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10 Creative ESL Writing Activities For Young Students
By VIPKid | February 7, 2018
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ESL Writing Activities
If you are an ESL teacher on VIPKID then you must consider the following things before selecting ESL Writing Activities for your students;
- You must choose the activities that can easily be done online because communication between you and your students will be done using VIPKID’s online video chatting software. Therefore, games that require outdoor activities may not work that well.
- You must avoid picking group activities because each of your online classes will consist of one student only. If you pick games that require more than one student, it is quite possible that you may end up confusing your students instead of helping them develop their writing skills.
- VIPKID provides the teachers with its own teaching material; therefore, the games you pick for your students must be relevant to the material you are given otherwise you may not be able to achieve any progress.
- The ESL Writing Activities you pick must be age-appropriate, which means you should pick games according to the age of your students. For your younger students, you need to choose easier to understand activities that teach English writing at the most basic level. Older students who understand English a bit may benefit from slightly more complex games.
- You must include ESL Writing Activities both in-class lessons and your students’ homework. This will allow them to practice more, which will help them develop and improve their writing skills.
The key to using writing activities as a teaching tool for your ESL students is to know which activities will help achieve your lesson’s learning objectives. If you use activities that are all fun and games, then your students may not learn anything useful from them.
ESL writing activities are important because they teach students to express their thoughts and use arguments so they can support their points of view in English. Therefore, it is important to do ESL writing exercises not only as homework but also as a classroom activity . In this article, we will outline some interesting ESL writing activities that are suitable for interactive work in a classroom or while teaching ESL online.
These are some of the best 10 ESL writing activities
Most of your students should be familiar with Twitter and tweets, so it can be a good starting point for an ESL writing exercise. Encourage students to write short tweets on the given ESL writing topic . You can even create a Twitter account for your class where the learners can share their thoughts. By the way, recently Twitter has exceeded the number of characters per post from 140 to 280, but still you can stick to the old 140-character format and maintain the conciseness.
Emails are the main source of communication between people around the world, and that’s why email writing is a key to effective communication . Explain to your students the difference between formal and informal emails , outline the structure and vocabulary, and encourage the students to write their own emails. They can write emails to each other based on a specified topic, such as organizing a surprise party for a friend’s birthday.
Writing Ads and TV Commercials
Advertisements and commercials are a great example of creative writing , so they can be used as writing activities for ESL students . Give your learners some sample ads as well as typical expressions that are used in advertising, and then ask the learners to create their own ads. You can bring some familiar objects to the classroom and tell the learners to advertise them. The students can work solo, in pairs, or in groups. For even greater creativity, encourage them to support their ads with images . For example, they can cut out those images out of newspapers or magazines, or print them from the web. Bonus points go to teachers who have their students present them as pitches for an extra speaking activity .
This ESOL writing exercise focuses on the ability to detect and correct mistakes in an already written text. One of example is to give the students a letter from an “imaginary friend” who does not speak English very well and has asked you to correct his or her letter. Each line of the letter should contain at least one mistake, which the students should identify and correct.
Collaborative ESL Writing Activity
Ask your students to write a story together. Each student should write a sentence and pass on the sheet to another student, who should continue the story. In the end, someone can read the story aloud. Such activity can both train the writing skills and spice up your ESL writing lessons, making them more fun and exciting. If you’re Teaching English as a Second Language online, you can go back and forth with the student and drive the story toward the vocabulary you’re focusing on.
Don’t forget to check our article about Teaching English as A Second Language.
Play an association game with your students: tell them a word and ask them to create an association chain for it, i.e. to name the association with each next word. For example, airport – travel – holidays – fun – party – night – moon – space, and so on. When the association chain is ready, ask the students to write a story by using all of these words.
During this ESL writing game, you should write an essay together with your students, but in a slow-paced manner, sentence by sentence . When writing, you will teach them the typical essay structure, such as introductory, supporting, and concluding sentences. As a result, your students will not be afraid of long essays, as they can easily break down the essay structure into smaller chunks.
Image-Based Story Writing
For this ESOL writing practice, you should mix up cards with various images in a bag or basket, and then ask each student to take three random images. Then the most interesting part starts: the students should write stories that involve each of the three depicted objects .
How-To Instructions Writing
During this ESL writing exercise, you should ask your students to describe how something works in the form of a step-by-step procedure . Of course, they should describe the functioning of simple objects from daily life, for example, a toaster. Another option is to write a recipe for a simple dish, such as scrambled eggs or cornflakes with milk.
Shortening The Texts
Give your students a bulky text overloaded with long expressions and ask them to shorten the text and remove everything that seems odd, thus making the text clear and concise. You can shorten one of the texts together with the students and then have them work in groups or pairs.
We hope that our examples of writing exercises for ESL students will help you liven up the writing activities and turn them into an exciting adventure. Good luck with the next lesson plan !
Benefits of ESL Writing
Here are some of the benefits of ESL writing activities:
They help to improve writing skills – Yes, this is an obvious benefit. Writing is an important part of learning English as a Second Language, especially if you are teaching adults who are looking for job opportunities or applying to universities for higher studies in native-English speaking countries. You will have to make sure that they know the basic knowledge of how to compose emails, take notes, prepare assignments and communicate with their peers and colleagues.
They help you build your vocabulary – ESL write up activities are a great way to build your students’ vocabulary. Not only do they learn new words, but they will also know how to use them in different sentences.
They help students understand the English language better – When you write a sentence you learn new words, you learn how to use them and how to build content around them. This can be a great way to improve your students’ comprehension, which can help them with their fluency in the language and play a role in developing their communication skills.
Remember, in order to make sure that your students benefit from writing, you should select exercises that are age-appropriate, related to your lesson, and easy to understand.
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Writing is one of the four basic English proficiencies next to reading, speaking, and listening. Developing a well-honed ability to write fluidly, naturally, and confidently — while using well-crafted grammatical structure and a wide array of vocabulary — carries several benefits for English learners.
A developed writing ability is essential for scoring well on standardized tests that include essay sections and a well-chosen ESL writing activity can increase the ability to express increasingly complex ideas succinctly and fully, thus improving communication skills across all four proficiencies.
How to Use ESL Writing Activities
As an ESL teacher, part of your teaching scope likely includes improving the writing skills of your students. Fun, engaging activities can be effective tools for achieving the gains in their writing abilities that you hope to see in the classroom.
When to Use ESL Writing Activities
Depending on the type of activity, writing activities can be used:
- At the beginning of a lesson to pique students’ interest and generate excitement about the upcoming lesson.
- Mid-lesson to assess students’ absorption and retention.
- At the conclusion of a lesson to review previously learned vocabulary/grammar.
Setup for ESL Writing Activities
Some ESL writing activities featured here require virtually no setup. Others require a whiteboard and/or projector with computer access. A handful require some preparation before class and pre-printed materials for handout.
Here are a few of the premier ESL writing activities for students divided by age and skill level.
ESL Writing Activities For Young Learners
Flash card writing.
Young learners are often best engaged with visual cues, so ESL flashcards are great tools for the classroom at the primary level.
To conduct the flash card activity, do a warm-up session by going through each card and, together as a class, writing the correct spelling on the board letter by letter.
Then, heat things up by dividing students into teams and having one member of each team write the vocabulary term on the board as quickly as possible when you prompt them with the corresponding flashcard.
The first student to finish earns a point for his or her team. Incentivize the students, if necessary, with a prize for the team with the most points at the end.
Building on the theme of combining imagery with writing for younger ESL learners, consider showing students a picture (the more vibrant, colorful, and detailed, the better) and asking them to write what they see. Consider using images with recently learned phrases as a review method.
Write a Letter to Santa (or Spiderman, Harry Potter, or Whomever)
Letter writing is an essential aspect of a young student’s English. Make it fun by having them write to their favorite superhero, celebrity, or best friend.
If your students need extra guidance, prompt them by suggesting what to write about; if writing to Santa, for example, encourage them to discuss what they would like for Christmas.
Help them frame their letter logically by providing a structure guide and helpful suggestions as necessary.
Postcards to Pen Pals
Capture young learners’ imagination by introducing them to a fictitious young boy or girl (or one inspired by real life) who is their same age and who lives in an exotic far-off land.
If your students are interested in a particular region or city, such as San Francisco, adjust your character’s geographic location accordingly.
Have them write a short composition to their new faraway friend that will fit on a postcard about who they are, what they like doing, etc. You can even make your own DIY postcards in the office using colored cardboard or other material.
This is a great opportunity to teach basic introductions and conclusions in English writing, a foundational component of almost any form of writing.
ESL Writing Activities For Adults
Write a business email.
Many adult learners are businesspeople, office workers, or other teachers themselves, so chances are all or most of your students have to send emails at some point in a work-related capacity.
Learning how to use professional, natural-sounding business language is a practical, valuable skill that adult ESL learners will appreciate — in fact, you may find that sounding “native” in both written and spoken word is a major goal of many English students, particularly adults.
Using a projector, create a relatable and entertaining work-related scenario and write an email to a boss or co-worker together about the situation.
Then, have your students craft their own email either in response to the example you provided or in a fresh scenario.
Fluent English writers and speakers have the ability to translate visual experiences into the written word, an advanced skill set that can serve your students well in a variety of real-world English-speaking contexts.
Consider using a well-known piece of local imagery with important cultural meaning (such as a portrait of a well-known historical figure or leader) and help your students to write verbal descriptions of the visual cue.
Paraphrasing is the ability to quickly recreate sentences with different grammatical structure and vocabulary while retaining the meaning and content of the original sentence.
The ability to paraphrase off the cuff is an important skill that can come in handy for adult learners who interact with other English speakers. Practicing paraphrasing encourages a greater understanding of the nuances of the language and developing alternative ways to construct sentences.
Offer your students a sentence, then ask them to capture the essence of what is communicated and reconstitute the critical elements into a new sentence structure.
Personal Ads for Dating Sites
Due to human nature, social conditioning, or a combination thereof, adult ESL learners’ ears tend to perk up when the topic of conversation moves to the birds and the bees.
If your adult students don’t use personal dating apps like Tinder, chances are they did at some point or their sons and daughters do.
Have your students write a personal ad – either about themselves or about one another in pairs – to be placed on a fictional dating app. Depending on the context of the learning environment, you can spice the activity up by encouraging uncouth language if/when you feel it is appropriate.
ESL Writing Activities for Beginners
This simple writing activity encourages creativity in use of the English terminology as well as recall of vocabulary. To create an acrostic poem activity for your students, write a short series of letters such as BIRD on the board, one on top of the other. Each of the four letters is its own line of poetry like this:
Create an example first for your students, such as:
- Barbara and
- I went to the garden where
- Red flowers grow
- Down by the creek
Then encourage students to think of their own poems to create.
Fill in the Letters
Mastering the letters and their phonetic sounds is a foundational element of ESL writing for beginners.
Present your students with words containing missing letters. You can either use pre-constructed worksheets from other teachers, create your own, or write the words with missing letters on the whiteboard.
After your students complete the words, take the time to sound out the terms again to strengthen students’ phonetic grasp on common English sounds and their corresponding letters. This will build their capacity to conceptualize letters when constructing words and sentences.
Print a series of words with one giant letter on each page. For example, if the word is HOUSE, then print an H, O, U, S, and E, each on its own respective page.
Scramble the papers up, then call an equal number of students to pages to the front – in this example, five. Say the word they should spell (house) and then watch them scramble to organize themselves in the correct order – helping them when necessary.
Although beginning ESL students don’t put pen to paper in this activity, it is nonetheless a writing activity in that it instills proper spelling and a basic grasp on phonetics that are critical at this stage of language development.
Students also enjoy and may benefit from the social, team-building aspect of this writing activity.
If single words are too easy, you can up the difficulty level by printing entire words on separate pages that form complete sentences.
ESL Writing Activities for Intermediate Students
Western ESL teachers might remember Mad Libs from their youth, a game in which a handful of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are extracted from a prewritten story and left up to the participants to fill in.
Mad Libs and its variants like Mad Takes can be wildly entertaining for ESL learners.
Fantasy Dialogue Using Pop Culture
Most of your students, especially in the mid-secondary school age range with a typical skill level for that group, will find this writing activity engaging.
Create a fantasy meeting between two well-known pop culture figures – for example, in Thailand, this would be something like Lady Gaga meeting Harry Potter if selecting from Western celebrities.
You can make the activity more exciting by setting the dialogue against an unusual background – for example, backstage at a concert in Bangkok.
Writing Descriptions of Visual Stimuli
Flash an image of a busy street corner in a major city in your student’s country, or of a well-known piece of historic architecture or famous landform – anything that your students are likely to know well.
Write the question words on the board:
Then ask your students to craft their own descriptions of the images you show for the question words. Some might not fit well – for example, the answer to who? may not appear obvious in an image of an island with no inhabitants. Encourage creative, “out of the box” answers in this regard and reward them with positive feedback.
The Directions Game
Giving and receiving directions is an intermediate English skill that ESL learners who want to travel will need to have. Additionally, this activity is useful to include at the outset of a lesson because the competitive nature captures students’ interest.
Draw a handmade map or grab one off of the internet. Divide the students into two teams. Then, have one student from each team come to the whiteboard with marker in hand.
Ask how to go from point A to point B on the map. Each student, with the help of his or her team, must quickly write coherent directions (turn left, turn right, go east, go west, etc.) from start to finish.
The first team to complete intelligible directions wins.
ESL Writing Activities for Advanced Students
What happens next.
This writing activity has the potential for several modifications to spice it up, but the essential idea is that the class, as a group, creates a story line by line.
The simplest version of Collective Story Time is to begin, as the teacher, with the introductory sentence on the whiteboard or projector: “Billy went to the skatepark.” The next sentence is completed by a student chosen at random, who then passes the baton to another student of his or her choice.
Depending on the age, maturity level, and preferences of students, you might put content limitations in place or interject with your own sentences from time to time to keep the story on a productive track.
Social Media Posts
Nearly everyone uses social media; they identify with it; they engage with it. Instead of fighting students to stay off of their phones in class, why not consider crafting your own Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram posts together as a class?
Use projection technology to supersize the browser or app and brainstorm a Tweet or post about a popular topic or the latest news in your learners’ home country.
Getting to the Point/Cutting Out the Fat
In English writing, more is not always better. The stage at which ESL students begin to develop advanced writing skills and become more confident is the right time to begin to introduce the concept of brevity and its benefits.
Start by offering your own writing sample that is chock full of redundancies, extraneous details, and non-sequiturs. Point some of them out yourself so that they know what to look for. Ask your students to shorten the story by half while keeping the original meaning and the critical details.
Transcription Practice (Dicto-Comp)
For some advanced ESL students who are either working already or will soon join the workforce, the ability to translate spoken English into written form quickly and accurately is an important skill.
Help them develop this skill set by selecting a text that is commensurate with their comprehension level. If you can’t find a suitable sample on the web, consider writing one yourself. The text should be about 500 words.
Students will listen and transcribe what they are hearing as quickly as possible. Emphasize the equal importance of accuracy and speed.
Read a few sentences at a time, pausing when you think appropriate.
Where to Start as an ESL Teacher
Devising effective ESL writing activities — and, equally importantly, adapting them to match the needs, interests, and social context of your students – requires a good bit of trial and error. Inspiration from other teachers’ examples and outside resources can help.To get started developing high-quality writing activities for your students, take a look at our list of free lesson plans . They are full of effective teaching strategies that are backed by years of practical success in ESL classrooms around the globe.
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6 Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom
03 June 2021 • Guest posts , Tips
The ESL classroom is a place where students learn, develop their language skills, and use their creativity and imagination. Learning a language is a process that requires different types of activities to be involved, for the student to truly progress. That’s why ESL students deal with speaking, reading, listening, and writing activities interchangeably. And, it’s the teacher’s job to make these activities as engaging and useful as possible.
When it comes to creative writing, teachers should look for creative activities that will keep the students interested and present. To help you give your students the best possible learning experience, we've put together a list of 6 creative writing activities for the ESL classroom. Check them out below.
1. Group Story Writing
If you have a classroom of reluctant writers, you might want to kick things off with a group exercise. Divide students into groups so that they can work together and help each other out.
Group story writing is a fun exercise that your students will love. All you need is an interesting picture showing something amusing and inspiring for each group. Once you give them the picture, ask them to:
- - name the characters from the picture
- - decide on their relationship
- - come up with a story about the things happening in the picture e.g. why are they there, what are they talking about, how are they feeling…
Ask the students to take turns pitching ideas, and have one student in the group take notes. Once they define all the details, ask them to write a story based on the ideas they've previously shared.
Group work can be a challenge, but if you instruct it properly, your students will enjoy working together.
2. Five-Sentence Stories
To have your students engage in a writing task, you don't need to have them write a two-page essay. Exercises that seem simple can actually help them work harder and truly activate their language skills.
A five-sentence story is an exercise that requires the following:
- - the students work individually
- - they have 10 minutes to come up with a story
- - the story needs to have an introduction, a climax, and an ending
- - the story needs to be exactly five sentences long
The teacher can either provide a topic or let it be completely up to the students.
The students will struggle to summarize their entire idea into five sentences and will have to use all the language skills and knowledge they have. Plus, they'll enjoy listening to each other's fun short stories and seeing how everyone did.
3. Finish The Story
The following exercise is great for pair work since it can engage language-speaking separately from written assignments. Finish the story is quite simple:
- - provide each pair of students with a beginning of a story
- - it can be a newspaper article, a fairy tale, a letter, an email, or anything the students find interesting
- - ask them to read it
- - ask them to write the rest of the story and finish it the way they think it should finish
The students will be provided with a writing style sample that they'll need to follow and respect. They'll need to be imaginative and creative to finish the story with a bang and amuse the rest of the classroom.
4. Simplify the Text
This idea comes from HubSpot’s article “How to Train Your Brain to Write More Concisely” and their exercise Rewrite Wikipedia Paragraphs. While you don’t have to use Wikipedia as the source of exercise materials, you can use the same principles since it’s engaging and fun for the students.
Here's what you need to do:
- - give your students a piece of content
- - try choosing something they’re interested in and will enjoy reading
- - ask them to read the whole text
- - ask them to reduce it by 50%
So, if you gave them a 1200-word article about sustainability, ask them to reduce it to a 600-word article, without losing any important information.
This will teach them to write concisely and avoid redundancy, which is a key skill they'll need for business writing, college papers, case studies, or motivational letters. You can order case study writing online and use it as another writing resource for your EFL students, teaching them about research, investigation, and organizing information.
5. Chain Writing
Another great way to engage students in a group writing activity is to have them write a chain story together. Chain stories will have students enjoy their time spent in the ESL classroom, collaborating with their peers and working on a fun project together.
The principle is simple:
- - the teacher takes a blank piece of paper and writes a writing prompt on it
- - it can be anything that will get the story going, e.g. “It was dark and Jack was scared.” or “The sun was setting behind the hills.”
- - The teacher passes the paper to the next student in line and asks them to add a sentence.
- - Once they finish, they pass the paper on.
This can go on in circles until the story is finished and ready to be presented. Ask one of the students from the group to read the story and show the rest of the class the result of their group work.
6. Monologue Writing
Your EFL classroom must use diverse writing activities that allow students to constantly grow. Writing a monologue is a unique chance for them to exercise first-person writing and use their wittiness and creativity.
The teacher should first provide monologue examples for students to explore. Then, they’ll assign a character to each student. It could be:
- - a famous person
- - a former president
- - a made-up person
- - a member of the student’s family
The student needs to write a brief monologue and give this person a chance to speak up. They'll need to take care of the perspective and think of the exact words this person would use.
Creative writing is important for your students’ overall ESL skills, and you find the activities that will help them improve. The 6 creative exercises listed above will help you focus on the area of creative writing your students need help with the most.
Use this list as guidance or inspiration to make every ESL lesson successful.
Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.
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Blog / Teaching Ideas » 5 Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom
5 Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom
Much of language learning comes through language experimentation; steering away from examples and formulas and attempting to arrange your own ideas into words. No matter what a student's goal may be in learning English, they will eventually have to do this by leaving the classroom and using English on their own. Activities like creative writing are one method to encourage the practice of experimentation and expression in ESL students. In this post, we're going to look at five different activities students can use to put their thoughts into writing.
Listen to this blog post:
1. (New Year's) Resolutions
Celebrating a new year is practically a universal tradition, and all students have goals. Writing down New Year's resolutions allows students to practice various usages of the future tense. These include using the future simple to talk about plans (I'll start a band); expressing future hopes or wishes with the present simple (I hope I can pass my exams); and expressing desires for the future with the present simple (I want to go abroad).
Before you conduct this activity, decide what specific language points you want your students to practice, and make a few sets of decorative cards. These can be anything from squares of different colored paper, to more ornate card templates found online.
To begin the activity, show your students some New Year's resolutions of your own as examples of what you expect them to write. Have students write three of their own resolutions, and check for mistakes once a student is finished. After correcting any mistakes, let students choose one decorative card to copy their resolutions on. They can keep these cards in notebooks, folders, bags, or anywhere else where they can easily see them and remember their goals.
Also read: Guide To Writing Your First TEFL Syllabus
2. Letters to the Future
Even though the letters students will write in this activity are addressed to the future, that doesn't mean the language in them has to be limited to future tenses. A few different themes for letters to the future include:
Obligations and Rules: Have students write letters to their future children, explaining their family's rules. (It's important to take care of yourself, so you must sleep well. Also, I don't like to study, so you don't have to study.)
Memories: Students write letters to their future selves, describing something that happened recently that they hope to remember in the future. (Do you remember the school festival? I ran in the relay race. I helped our team win.)
A Day in Your Life: Write a letter to people thousands of years in the future describing what daily life is like in your present. (I wake up at 7:00. I cook breakfast. I usually eat...)
3. Cultural Ambassadors
Students choose something unique to their country or culture (holidays, foods, clothing, etc.) and write a description of that thing as though they were introducing it to someone who had never heard of it. The language points used for these explanations can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be depending on the language level of your students.
If you really want to get in-depth and creative, everyone in class could work together to compile a cultural guidebook. Everyone writes one description, and then provides drawings or photos to accompany their writing. You can put all of these together later on paper or online.
Also read: 7 Activities for Teaching Reported Speech in the ESL Classroom
4. Travel Itinerary
Individually or in small groups, students choose a place they want to travel to, either within their home country or abroad, and write up their dream travel itinerary. In addition to the imaginative aspect, you can help students practice practical skills by requiring them to look up and include things like real bus/plane/train departure times, real hotels, or short descriptions of sights they want to visit.
You can format this activity in a variety of ways to match the language levels of your students. For example, students at the elementary or pre-intermediate levels could create a table of each travel day with a short, simple schedule of their plan for each day (Day One: I take the bus at 8 am. I arrive at 10 am. I check in to Hotel Plus). Meanwhile, students at the intermediate or advanced language levels could write fuller, more detailed descriptions of their travels (First, I'm going to take the 8 am bus. I'll arrive at about 10 am. After I check in to Hotel Plus, I want to visit the tourist information center).
If you want to expand this activity a little bit more, you can have students present their travel itineraries to their classmates in order to introduce each other to different destinations.
Show your students something interesting or thought-provoking (a popular song, a current event, a picture of a treehouse, etc.) and have them write a few sentences that either describe what you've shown them, or express what they think about what you've shown them. This activity can be a good regular warm up to help students practice grammar you have already gone over in class.
As your class goes on, you can prompt students to write more and more complex sentences. For example, when you first introduce this activity, you might ask students to write something like, "I like this song. I think the singer is cool." Then, some time later, you might ask students to write something like, "I like this song because it's upbeat. I had never heard of it before, but I want to listen to it again."
Also read: Songs in the ESL Classroom for Younger Beginners
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ESL Games, Activities, Lesson Plans, Jobs & More
ESL Writing Activities, Games, Worksheets & Lesson Plans
If you’re teaching writing and are looking for some of the best ESL writing activities, along with worksheets, lesson plans and more then you’re in the right place. Keep on reading for everything you need to know about teaching English writing.
ESL writing exercises and games
Let’s check out the top ESOL writing exercises and activities to consider trying out with your students.
ESL Writing Activities and Games for All Ages
#1: 3 things esl writing activity.
I’m ALL about simple and easy for writing activities in emergency situations when you don’t have a lot of time to prep. 3 Things is ideal because it requires nothing except a pen and paper and also requires no prep time.
The way it works is that students think of 3 random things. Then, they give those words to a partner who has to write a short story using them. It can be serious or silly and kind of depends on the words chosen.
#2: Journaling for English Learners
When I teach ESL writing classes, I always have students keep a journal. It can either be with pen and paper or online. It’s a fun way for students to work on writing fluency and have some freedom to write about topics they want to write about, not just the ones that I assign.
If you want to see how I set up this ESL writing exercise, check out the following: Journaling for ESL Students .
#3: Postcards ESOL Writing Exercise
If you’re looking for a simple, fun ESL writing activity, then you may want to consider having your students write some postcards. Ideally, you could get your hands of a stack of blank, unused postcards. But, if not, students can design their own and then trade with someone else who can fill in the back.
Learn more about this fun writing activity here: ESL Postcard Writing Activity .
#4: A to Z Alphabet Game
Remember that writing is more than a 5-paragraph essay. It’s any time a student is writing something, even one word. With that in mind, you may want to try out this ESL writing game for beginners.
The way it works is that you name a topic. Jobs or animals for example. Then, students have to think of one word for each letter. I give my students a certain amount of time and the team with the most words is the winner.
Do you want to give this writing activity for beginners a try? Check it out here: A-Z ESL Writing Activity .
#5: Conjunctions and Transitions
Words like but, so, and, however, etc. are key in English writing because they join ideas, sentences and paragraphs together. This makes writing easier to understand and helps it to flow better. Even beginners can learn about using things like and or but.
Here are some of the ideas for teaching these words: ESL Conjunction and Transition Activities .
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 85 Pages - 02/02/2020 (Publication Date)
#6: Whiteboard Games
I don’t know why, but students really love to write on the whiteboard. There are a ton of relay type ESL writing activities that you can do. Here are some of the best ones:
ESL Whiteboard Activities .
If you want to challenge your students with some serious listening and writing, then consider this dictogloss ESL activity. The way it works is that you find a passage or write one at an appropriate level for your students.
Then, put the student into pairs and read out the passage at a slightly faster pace than normal. Students have to take notes and then attempt to recreate what they heard by writing. Read the passage again and students add to what they have. Finally, they can compare their version with the original one.
Do you want to give it a try? Read this first: Dictogloss ESL Writing and Listening Activity .
#8: How to Teach English Writing to Beginners
Back when I did the CELTA course, my tutor told me that writing doesn’t have to be a 5 paragraph essay. It can actually be any time the students are writing something in English. With this in mind, here are some of the best activities for absolute beginners to English writing:
Teaching ESL Writing to Beginners .
#9: Fill out an Application Form
One very practical writing activity that we can do with our students is getting them to fill out an application form. If they plan on living in an English speaking country, they’ll certainly have to do this. And, there’s often some very specific vocabulary and expected answers that you can help them with.
More details here: ESL Writing Application Form .
#10: Sentence Structure Activities
In speaking, our students can sometimes get away without having great sentence structure. This is because people often speak in sentence fragments and rarely in full sentences.
However, in writing, sentence structure is key and vital to helping our students get their ideas across on paper. Here are some of the best activities to help our students practice this:
ESL Sentence Structure Games and Activities .
ESL writing games and activities
#11: Is that Sentence Correct?
A simple reading and writing activity is this one that focuses on error correction. The way it works is that you make some sentences, some of which have errors and some that do not. Students have to decide which ones are incorrect and them correct them. It’s ideal for review at the end of class or the beginning of the next one.
Learn more about this writing activity here: ESL Error Correction Activity .
#12: Proof-Reading and Editing
A key part of writing well is proof-reading and editing. Everyone does it, even professional writers! Instead of the students relying on me to correct their errors for them, I like to teach them do to edit their own work. It’s a key skill in the writing process but often overlooked by many English teachers.
Check out this activity for helping students with this writing skill: ESL Proofreading and Editing .
- 146 Pages - 06/18/2020 (Publication Date)
Spending some time working on self-editing skills, instead of relying on the teacher-editing model is a nice way to improve student autonomy in English writing classes.
#13: Focus on Fluency Activity
Many ESL writing textbooks (and teachers too) focus on accuracy in English writing at the expense of fluency. However, both are needed if students are to become proficient in English essay writing. After all, no employer is going to appreciate an employee who can write a simple, but perfect email in half a day! Most would expect it to happen in a few minutes.
Check out this activity to help our students out with this: Fluency ESL Writing Activity .
#14: How to Teach ESL Writing on the Let’s Talk TEFL Podcast
#15: Word Association
I like to use this quick writing activity if I know that students have studied the topic of the day before. For example, jobs and weather are very common in almost all ESL textbooks and if students are at a high-beginner or intermediate level, I guarantee that they already know some of these vocabulary items.
You can find out how to do it right here: ESL Word Association Activity .
#16 : ESL Surveys
I love to use surveys in my classes. They are a super versatile activity that covers all 4 skills, including writing. It’s also easy to make a survey for just about any topic or grammar point. See why I love them so much?
If you want to know more, then you’ll want to check this out: TEFL Surveys.
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- 134 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
#17: Opinion Activities and Games
Opinion essays are a classic writing activity for both English learners and students in high school or university. That’s why I like to give my students some chances to practice writing and supporting their opinions in my classes. Do you want to try out some of the best ones? You can find out all the details right here:
ESL Opinion Activities .
#18: Parts of Speech Activities for ESL
English writing is ALL about parts of speech. After all, if you don’t know where the verb, subject, object, adjectives and adverbs go, how can you have any chance of making a coherent English sentence? It’s nearly impossible!
That’s why I like to do some worksheets and practice with my students related to this. If you want to try it out too, here are some of the best ideas:
ESL Parts of Speech Activities .
Top 17 ESL writing games and activities
#19: Spelling Challenge Game
Spelling is an important, but often neglected part of writing. In my opinion, it’s worth spending some classroom time on and one way to do that is with this word challenge game. Because it’s done on the whiteboard, it’s ideal for smaller classes.
Want to find out what it’s all about? You can right here: ESL Spelling Challenge Activity.
A nice TEFL writing activity that you might want to try out is dictation. It covers not only writing, but also listening, spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary in a big way. Is it obvious why I like it so much?
Try it out with your students today. Learn more here: ESL Dictation Writing Activity .
#21: TEFL Writing Activities and Games
#22: Brainstorm Games and Activities
One of my favourite, simple ESL writing activities is to get students to brainstorm words or things related to a certain topic or category. It’s a nice way to get some creative juices flowing and can also be used for a quick warmer or review activity.
There are a number of engaging, student-centred activities to consider. Here are some of my favourites: Brain Storming Games.
#23: Freeze Writing Activity
Group writing activities for TEFL classes are few and far between. However, freeze is one of the best ones to consider. Students have to work collaboratively to make stories, line by line is a fun and engaging way.
Want to give it a try? Find out how: Freeze Activity .
#24: Five-Paragraph Essay Writing
For higher-level students, it can be a worthwhile activity to teach students how to write academic essays. Here’s an outline and some tips for how to do that:
Five-Paragraph Essay Template .
#25: More Ideas for TEFL Writing
#26: fill in the blank sentences games.
A nice option for beginners in English writing is to use fill in the blanks. This adds a bit of structure to it and makes it much easier for students! Have a look at some of my favourite options:
Fill In The Blank Sentences Games .
#27: Round Robin Story
Try out this simple story writing activity that can be used for speaking & listening, or writing. Learn more:
Round Robin Story .
#28: Five Senses
Try out this simple activity that involves a lot of adjectives. It can be done with speaking or writing.
ESL Writing FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching English writing. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What is ESL Writing?
ESL technically refers to English as a Second Language but the more common usage is anyone who is a non-native speaker of English, whether or not it’s their second, third or fourth language. ESL writing focus specifically on writing skills.
How can ESL Students Improve Writing?
There are a number of ways that ESL students can improve their writing skills:
- Practice, both in class and outside of class is key.
- Give students a reason to write.
- Use peer correction.
- Offer self-editing checklists.
- Give students some freedom to choose what to write about.
- Use a variety of writing activities and games.
- Give students a chance to revise their work based on feedback.
- Strive to make English writing fun and engaging
- Make it relevant to real-life.
- Ensure that your ESL writing classes target the level of the students.
How Can ESL Beginners Learn to Write?
Remember that ESL beginners will not be able to write a 5-paragraph academic essay. Instead, you may want to focus on things like filling in the blanks on a worksheet or writing very simple sentences with a subject, verb, and object.
Why is Writing Difficult for ESL Students?
Writing can be a little bit difficult for ESL students because it not only involves vocabulary and grammar, but things like punctuation, capital letters as well as style and other writing conventions. What does make it easier is that it doesn’t happen in real time like with speaking.
Did you Like these ESOL Writing Exercises?
- 72 Pages - 12/09/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book you can easily find on Amazon: ESL Writing Activities, Games & Teaching Tips . It’s the first and only ESL activity book dedicated exclusively to teaching writing and it’s a must-have if you’re teaching these kinds of classes.
You can easily get these ESL writing activities in both digital and print formats. Consider keeping a copy on the bookshelf in your office and using it as a handy reference guide. Or, bring the digital version with you on your phone or tablet to your favourite coffee shop for some serious lesson planning for your English writing classes.
It really is that easy to have ESL writing classes! Check out the book on Amazon, but only if you want to get yourself a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome in your life:
Do you Have an ESL Writing Grading Rubric?
If you’re looking for a bit of guidance on how to evaluate your students’ writing, then you’re in the right place. We strongly recommend using a simple rubric that’ll save you a ton of time. Plus, students will understand why they got the grade that they did. All the details can be found here:
ESL Writing Grading Rubric .
ESL Writing Lesson Plans
If you’re looking for some ready-made writing lesson plans that can help your students improve their skills in a big way, you’ll want to check out our top recommendations:
One Stop English
Writing practice for English learners
ESL Writing Worksheets
The good news for English teachers is that there are a ton of English writing worksheets to help you out with just about anything! Why reinvent the wheel if another English teacher has already done the hard work, right? Here are some of the best ESL writing worksheets:
ESL Writing Assignments
If you’re not sure about writing assignment options for your ESL/EFL students, here are some of the best ideas that you’ll want to check out:
Consider Investing in Grammarly if you Teach ESL Writing
If you teach English writing, then one of the top tools we can recommend to you is Grammarly. It can help you catch lots of errors that your students are making in their writing. It’s fast and easy to run written assignments through it.
The other reason to consider Grammarly is for the plagiarism checker. It’s a simple way to find out who is actually doing written assignments on their own and who is stealing things from the Internet. Head over there now to find out more about their services:
The World’s Best Automated Proofreader
Have your say about these ESL Writing Activities and Exercises
What do you think about these writing ESL activities? Did you try out one of them from this or have another that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers, like yourself find this useful resource for teaching English writing.
Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.
Jackie is the author of more than 60 books for English teachers and English learners, including Business English Vocabulary Builder and 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.
You can find her on social media at: YouTube Facebook Pinterest TikTok LinkedIn Instagram
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Fun ESL Writing Activities ( See Activities )
There are many kinds of ESL Writing tasks, such as free writing, creative writing, and guided writing (i.e., an essay).
Jump to ESL Writing Activities
I like to get my students started with free writing at the beginning of each class to encourage creativity and relieve pressure of making mistakes.
Steps to Free writing
- Suggest the topic for Free writing.
- Suggest the time limit (e.g., start with five minutes for higher level students and three minutes for lower level students). Try to increase the time each week.
- Get Ready, Get Set, START WRITING !
Four Rules of Free writing
1. keep writing don’t stop .
Write as much as possible! Aim for quantity over quality. If you can’t think of anything, then simply write, “I can’t think of anything to write.”
2. No dictionaries!
Looking words up in the dictionary takes a lot of time. If you don’t know a word, they write the word in your language, try to explain it in a different way, or skip it and move on.
3. Don’t worry about mistakes!
The goal is to write as much as possible without worrying about grammar mistakes or vocabulary. Don’t worry about spelling, word usage, etc. Just write!
4. No talking!
Free writing is a time for you to write. Don't talk until the Free speaking time is finished.
Ideas for Free writing
- Tell each student to write one word on the board. Then, tell the students to create a story using the words. It’s not necessary to use all the words.
- Students write about their weekend to practice using past tense verbs.
- Give students a topic each week similar to Free Speaking (e.g., Hometown, Food & Restaurants, etc.).
Try Our Fun ESL Writing Activities
About The Teacher
Inside My Wallet
Warmers & fillers.
Correct The Errors
ESL Boggle Game
ESL Spelling Bee
Four Squares Incorrect Sentences
Give A Reason Because
Rhyming Words Activity
Telling Jokes With Homonyms
Top English Words
What's The Question?
Tic Tac Toe
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Brainstorming ESL Essay Writing Topics
Brainstorming ESL Writing Topics
ESL Creative Writing Activity
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Using Mind Maps For ESL Writing
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ESL Writing Activities for Kids & Adults
Three-word stories esl writing activity.
This ESL writing activity is an adaptation of the Three-Word Stories game from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon . The aim of the activity is to create stories by collaborating with classmates using three words at a time.
Student Level: Beginner , Intermediate , Advanced
Age Group: Kids , Adults
The 5 Whys ESL Writing Activity
This activity is an adaptation of Sakichi Toyoda’s technique for determining the root cause of a problem. The 5 Whys Method was originally used within the Toyota Motor Corporation.
Let’s explore how we can use this technique as a language learning activity.
Dictogloss ESL Writing Activity
The Dictogloss writing activity is an excellent collaborative English lesson that incorporates all core language skills. Students work in groups to reconstruct a text after listening to the teacher’s reading of the text.
Student Level: Intermediate , Advanced
Running Dictation ESL Writing Activity
Have you ever tried doing a running dictation in your English classroom? This ESL writing activity will also help students elevate their listening, speaking, and reading skills. It is a great collaborative activity for pairs and group work.
Family Tree ESL Writing Activity
This activity is appropriate for all ages and levels. By using the Family Tree ESL Activity in class, students can develop their descriptive writing skills. You can easily adjust the level of difficulty depending on your context.
Christmas Story ESL Writing Activity
Do you need a fun writing activity for the Christmas season? The Christmas Story ESL Activity is a great way to develop your students’ creative writing skills. In this activity, they can create their own unique story and get peer feedback from their classmates. It is ideal for younger learners, but adults could try it too.
The Cube Test ESL Writing Activity
The Cube Test ESL Activity can help students improve their writing skills and have fun evaluating their classmates’ personalities.
The original Cube Personality Test was developed by Tadahiko Nagao and Isamu Saito who co-wrote the popular Kokology book series. The test analyzes people’s personalities by using guided storytelling. However, you can also use it in your language class.
Daily Diary ESL Writing Activity
This daily diary ESL activity could be used as a project-based assignment that you can have your students do throughout the term. However, you can use it as an activity in a single class. It works quite well for all ages and levels.
Movie Subtitles ESL Writing Activity
The Movie Subtitles ESL Activity helps develop students’ writing skills by watching films. It can be used with movies and films on YouTube or other movie sites. Students should create their own dialog from what they see with the volume turned down.
Age Group: Adults
Five Senses ESL Writing Activity
The Five Senses ESL Activity encourages students to write more descriptively using all five of their senses with a piece of chocolate. It is recommended for adult learners; however, kids could try it as well if their level is high enough.
News Report ESL Writing Activity
This is an effective activity for improving students’ writing skill by summarizing information from a news broadcast. The goal of the news report ESL activity is to create a brief summary of a news story that they watch in class. Students can also improve note-taking skills.
Postcards ESL Writing Activity
It may be a bit old-fashioned for the times, but some people still like to keep old traditions alive. This postcards ESL activity can be a useful method for getting students interested in writing a personal message to a friend from a travel destination of their choice.
Comic Strips ESL Writing Activity
Creating dialog for comics is a fun way for students to spark some creativity and improve their writing skills. This comic strips ESL activity can be done with any popular comic strip that you can find online and edit accordingly for your students’ levels.
Other ESL Activities for Developing Core Skills
- ESL Listening Activities
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A Guide on Creative ESL Writing Activities
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If you want to learn about some of the best tips about ESL writing activities , you might find this article helpful.
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What is ESL?
ESL means English as a Second Language . Foreigners who don’t speak English study this level of language. Individuals whose society’s speak English as a main or second language practice this.
The program intends to support learners of English. The focus of ESL teachers is to develop conversational and job-related communication skills for their students. Students enroll in such programs to learn the language at work, school, or in another country.
In all countries, students study English as a Second Language, from Japan to Spain. English-speaking teachers in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia travel abroad to teach English. Many ESL teachers visit countries such as Vietnam, Spain, China, South Korea, Japan, and the UAE.
It’s taught as a subject in many schools with students who have a different native language. ESL teachers will help students with speaking, reading, writing and listening.
These teachers can be native speakers, who move abroad to teach English, or local teachers who are fluent in English. In many countries, ESL is a public school subject. It’s taught in private schools, international schools, graduate schools, by private tutors, and through online learning platforms.
ESL education can take place in a variety of settings in reality. Some students learn English talking to friends, playing video games, or even on the radio.
However, in most cases, ESL is taught in a formal setting, normally taken at a school, a college, university or a library.
What are ESL Writing Activities?
ESL Activities are ways to enhance and practice students’ writing skills, interest, and ability to connect with one another. Students typically have difficulties in developing and/or completing simple writing projects such as writing a book review or speaking essay. ESL Writing Activities are designed to challenge students to improve themselves, their experiences, and their ideas through writing.
Language learning is very common in the world of education, such as ESL or English as a Second Language. It is used to enhance language learning when a user uses a foreign language. ESL includes tutorials, information on topics, and grammar lessons.
Basically, a writing activity is like a mini lesson on grammar, composition, spelling and punctuation. More often than not, it is a little bit more challenging as it’s much more in-depth than a traditional grammar session. The best part is, they’re suitable for many learning levels and ages, too. Writing activities offer a helpful way to gauge whether your student is plateauing or just not interested in language-learning.
ESL refers to English as a Second Language, and it is the use of English by someone who is not a native speaker. This includes second or third generation natives or the children of immigrants. They are interested in improving their language skills and general education by means of college and professional courses in an English-speaking country.
One of the most important facets of blending in with the mainstream population is to learn the language.
For this reason, the following activities are a great way for beginning ESL students to incorporate their language goals into the curriculum. These activities are designed to push the students toward their language goals.
Also, it gives them something to look forward to as they practice their English.
How to Make the Best Writing Activities?
You won’t have a lot of time to prepare for an emergency situation if you just have to do something quick and easy. The three things series is perfect since it requires nothing but a pen and paper and does not require prep time.
Students think of three random things in this way. They then give those words to a partner, who then writes a short story using them.
You can make it serious or silly, it all depends on what words you select.
Instruct Students to Keep a Journal
Try to ask your students to keep a journal during writing classes.
Students can improve their writing fluency and have some freedom to write about topics they want to write, not just the ones assigned.
If you’re looking for a simple, fun ESL writing activity, you may want to get your students to write some postcards. If you had a stack of blank, unused postcards, you might want to get your hands on one.
Students can design their own, but if not, trade with someone else to fill the back.
Remember that writing is more than just a 5-paragraph essay. Typically, students write anything, even if they only provide one word.
Then you might want to try this English writing game for beginners.
Basically, you name a topic. For example, “animal jobs are popular”.
Students must then think of a word for every letter. Provide the students a certain amount of time, the team with the most words wins.
Have a great time trying out this Dictogloss ESL activity if you want to challenge your students with serious listening and writing. To do this, you need to find a passage or write one that is appropriate for your students.
Next, put the student in pairs and read out the passage at a slightly faster pace than usual. Students are expected to take notes and then recreate what they heard by writing.
Students add to what they are learning when reading the passage again. Lastly, they can compare their version to the original.
Things to Remember when Choosing Writing Activities
Avoid group activities.
It is important to avoid group activities, since all of your online classes will consist of one student only. You may be able to confuse your students rather than help them develop their writing skills. This happens if you design games that require more than one student.
Select Age-Appropriate Activities
ESL Writing Activities you choose must be age-appropriate, which means you should pick games according to the age of your students. There are easier to understand activities that teach English writing at the highest level.
Students who understand English a bit may benefit from slightly more complex games.
Include Writing Activities Both on Lessons and Homework
ESL writing activities must be included in all in-class lessons and your students’ homework. It will allow them to improve their writing skills through practice, which will help them to develop and improve their skills.
Students who want to use writing activities as a teaching tool should know which activities will help them meet their learning goals. Using activities that are all fun and games may not help your students learn anything useful from them.
ESL writing activities are important because they encourage students to express their thoughts and use arguments to support their points of view in English. Therefore, it is important to do ESL writing exercises not only as homework, but also as a classroom activity.
Teach Students About Modern-day Communication
Many of your students should be familiar with Twitter and tweets, so this can be an excellent starting point for a teaching exercise. Teachers should write short tweets about the given topic of ESL.
In general, most students should be familiar with Twitter and Twitter hashtags. This can serve as a good starting point for an ESL assignment. Give students the opportunity to write short tweets on the given ESL topic.
You can also create a Twitter account that lets learners share their thoughts with your class. By the way, Twitter recently increased its commenting limit from 140 to 280, but it still retains its 140-character format.
Bring Familiar Objects
The learners can advertise some familiar objects in the classroom. The students are allowed to work independently, in pairs, or in groups.
Encourage them to support their lessons with images for even greater creativity. Print those images from newspapers, magazines, or newspapers can be used.
Teachers who use their students to present them with extra speech activities receive bonus points.
As educators, we have the responsibility in creating engaging learning environments for our students. To achieve this goal, we need to learn how to utilize a variety of ESL activities to develop creativity and ingenuity in our students.
These activities can be incorporated into ESL lessons and homework assignments to create opportunities for students. When we learn how to use these activities, students are more likely to stick with their learning while acquiring independence in their learning success.
Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.
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These are some of the best 10 ESL writing activities · Writing Tweets · Writing Emails · Writing Ads and TV Commercials · Error Correction.
ESL Writing Activities For Young Learners · Flash Card Writing · What's Happening? · Write a Letter to Santa (or Spiderman, Harry Potter, or
6 Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom · 1. Group Story Writing. If you have a classroom of reluctant writers, you might want to
Apply Some Fresh Ideas for Quality Writing Lessons · Make it Personal · Story Telling Warmer · Speed Writing Warmer · Writing Prompts · Creating Character · Writing
5 Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom · 1. (New Year's) Resolutions · 2. Letters to the Future · 3. Cultural Ambassadors · 4. Travel
If you're looking for a simple, fun ESL writing activity, then you may want to consider having your students write some postcards.
1. Start Small with Tweets · 2. Write Informative, Useful Emails · 3. Create Creative Advertisements · 4. Form Informative Reports · 5. Craft a
Ideas for Free writing · Tell each student to write one word on the board. Then, tell the students to create a story using the words. · Students write about their
Creating dialog for comics is a fun way for students to spark some creativity and improve their writing skills. This comic strips ESL activity
Three Things · Instruct Students to Keep a Journal · Write Postcards · “Dictogloss” · Avoid Group Activities · Select Age-Appropriate Activities · Include Writing