Teaching Writing: Tips For Making It Fun

journal_writingjpg_smaller1.jpgWith the limited time available in class, it’s not surprising that many teachers assign written tasks as homework (and by writing, I’m thinking about these longer written tasks like essays or letters, not just, say, writing out answers in the workbook). English language students throughout the world are famous for not doing their homework, so writing often ends up being neglected. To be fair, adult English students do often have full-time jobs and substantial responsibilities outside class…and many of them do not need to excel at essay-writing. But the fact remains, they often don’t do homework.

Tip 1: give students an excerpt from an engaging story with the middle or end missing and ask them to complete it in a set number of sentences.

Tip 2: Do chain writing, where students work in pairs. The first pair starts by writing two or three sentences and then folds the paper over so only the last sentence is visible. They pass the paper to the next pair, who continue the story after having only read the very last sentence.

Tip 3: For practicing thank you letters: students draw names and have to buy a “gift” for the person whose name they select within a certain price range. After they “give” this gift, the recipient has to write a thank you letter expressing their gratitude and explaining how they use the gift. Force your students to get creative by limiting the range of gifts to everyday items you’ve cut out from adverts – a pair of flip-flops, a 5-pound honey-glazed ham, etc.

Tip 4: As a warmer, give each student a historical event (the sinking of the titanic, the “discovery” of America, the first radio transmission) and tell them they have just witnessed it and somehow they have a mobile phone. They should write a text message about what they’ve just seen – they read it out and the other students have to guess which historical event it was.

Tip 5: don’t assume that your students have the same experience writing in their own language as you do. If you ask them to write an essay, give them an example or two that you’ve written, maybe even a good one and a bad one and get them to compare them.