Number one for English language teachers

Writing tips

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate Type: Teaching notes

Jackie McAvoy provides some useful tips for integrating writing into your English lessons.

Tip 1: regular writing

One problem with ‘writing’ is that in many EFL classes it is relegated to homework or classes devoted to writing. The first tip is to include a ‘bit’ of writing into your regular classes.

Tip 2: giving the writing a purpose

Another problem is that writing is often done ‘cold’, in ‘real’ life this isn’t the case. Writing is normal in response to something else whether it be another piece of writing (i.e. answering a letter), a conversation (i.e. taking notes during a telephone conversation), or after reading something (i.e. replying to a job advert). This means that the piece of writing has a context and, in most cases, a ‘thinking’ time.

Therefore, it would be useful to try and make the writing you give in class (or for homework) as realistic as possible. So, discuss the topic and writing before starting to write.

Tips 3, 4 and 5: fitting writing into your lessons

Writing is often seen by students as being ‘boring’. This is partly because of lack of ‘thinking’ and discussion time but is also due to writing being seen as an individual task and not one that is collective. As many EFL classes use lots of pair and group work ‘writing’ (and long texts of reading) often don’t ‘fit’.

3. Break the writing up. Talk about the topic, plan, discuss the plan, write the outline and discuss, write the first paragraph & discuss etc.

4. Make it part of the lesson by talking about the topic, reading about it, developing role plays from the situations etc.

5. You can also make much of the writing collaborative.


Tip 6: it’s finished

In a way a piece of writing should never be finished. The more you can reuse/recycle a piece of writing the better. So, use students’ writing as the starting point for a future lesson (either for discussion) or to be responded to with another piece of writing.

When you correct a piece of writing, instead of marking mistakes (which are often seen as spelling, punctuation or grammar) in red pen, respond to the content and style with questions and make the student think about what they have written and give them a need to write again responding to your questions.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Thanks for the above tips.i like the point of teaching collective writing and the one concerns teaching authentic writing preceeded by class discussions or readings.thanks

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  • Brilliant tips & it helps alot!

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  • Just loved the tips. I keep a blog, but students normally don´t comment there.

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