One of the biggest challenges ESL teachers have in the classroom is to encourage student writing. Usually, students do not want to write. Why is it so? According to Rosilli Sera, “Writing often lacks that communicative purpose.” So what can you do about this?
Blogging has been a great help in getting my students to enjoy writing. We have used blogging platforms such as Weebly and Tumblr. Students love interaction through social media. That probably is why they enjoyed blogging as they could share it with their friends. Correct their mistakes privately and encourage them to fix the mistakes. Students can write about their hobbies, news, fiction, and arts. Just make sure they enjoy the topic. You can also ask them to write a piece related to the topic you have just learnt in the class and use the vocabulary they have just learnt.
Young ESL students won’t be able to write blog posts, but they will surely enjoy creating cartoons. You can create cartoons using tool called Pixton. Print the copies of cartoons and give them away to students. Make sure the speech bubbles are empty. Ask every child to create speeches and fill in empty bubbles using new vocabulary. As a follow-up activity, the students may present the dialog in front of the class.
Encourage your students to write a real book. This task may take some time, so it should be done at home. As an encouragement, I use a story of an eleven-year-old author.
I start the lesson by introducing a book of young author, Ellen Frances Keast, A Snowy Week. We read this short book, check illustrations made by the girl, and then I ask my ten- and eleven-year-olds to follow her example and write one book(s). For example, “My adventures on vacation”. Before starting, the children learn weather and activities vocabulary. Guided by the teacher, each child writes a little bit about their favorite activities on summer/winter vacations, adventures, or events that happened to them. Also, students are encouraged to do their own illustrations.
After several lessons, you can collect the student’s writing and correct all the mistakes. You can either print the real book or ask the students to make hand-made books. Invite parents to come to the “book fair”, where the young writers present their their books and take pictures.
As you can see, teaching English can be much more fun!