21 Writing Tools: Teach ESL Students How to Learn English Writing

21 Writing Tools: The Series Outline (a work in progress)

This series of English lessons is designed for teachers who want to help ESL students learn English writing.

These ESL lessons focus on easy to explain, skills-based classroom exercises that improve student performance. The writing skills include sentence structure, vocabulary development, some grammar to improve idea clarity, as well as paragraph organization. (more…)

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#13 Teaching Writing – Fix Run On Sentences

Teaching Writing – Fix Run On Sentences

Main Idea

Run on sentences, a common problem in first drafts, are easy to fix with two possible solutions. Once English students learn the meaning of run on sentence they will be able to find and repair those errors by themselves. Therefore, studying run on sentences helps ESL students develop the skills they need to become independent English writers.

What is a Run On Sentence?

A run on sentence happens when two independent clauses have not been joined in the right way. What’s an independent clause? (more…)

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#14 Teaching Writing – Avoid Choppy Sentences

Teaching Writing – Avoid Choppy Sentences

Main Idea

ESL students can improve their writing style by learning how to notice and fix choppy sentences with combined clauses that create smooth text with an elegant flow.

Choppy Sentences

Grammatically, there is nothing wrong with choppy sentences. Stylistically, they read poorly. Choppy sentences are commonly written by young children and older students who did not learn how to combine sentences with conjunctions. Here are some examples:

  • Choppy:  I like dogs. Dogs make good pets. Dogs are friendly and loyal.
  • Better:  I like dogs because they are friendly and loyal. That’s why they make good pets.


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#15 Teaching Writing – Avoid Wordy Sentences

Teaching Writing – Avoid Wordy Sentences

Main Idea

When ESL students write a first draft of an English text, it is normal to expect wordy and awkward sentences. Heck, native speakers do it all the time. The problem for many ESL students is that they do not know how to improve their text by cutting unnecessary words or tightening sentences (i.e. expressing an idea in fewer words). This English writing lesson helps ESL students develop that rewriting skill with two editing techniques. (more…)

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#16 Teaching Writing via Paraphrasing with Synonyms

Teach Writing via Paraphrasing with Synonyms

Main Idea

This English writing lesson teaches ESL students how to improve sentence flow and expand their vocabulary range by paraphrasing key words and phrases with synonyms.


With a broader, deeper vocabulary range, ESL students have some of the tools they need to write with greater clarity, variety and productivity. Without a strategy to improve their lexical strength, it is hard for ESL students to improve the quality of their writing.


Find a synonym for the underlined words/phrases. Re-write each sentence using these new words or phrases. For example: (more…)

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#17 Teaching Writing via Proofreading Skills


One of the challenges associated with teaching English writing in Korea is the mindset of ESL students. Not many, it seems, have been exposed to process writing. By that, I mean the expectation that a piece of text will undergo several stages of proofreading and editing before it is considered good or complete.

Because students have not had much exposure to process writing, most are poor at proofreading (i.e. finding and correcting text errors) and editing (i.e. making substantial changes to the text with additions or deletions). (more…)

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#19: Write Sentences with Parallel Structure

Writing with Parallel Structure

Main Idea

Teaching ESL students how to write English sentences with parallel structure can improve sentence clarity, style and impact not to mention good grammar. As the level of writing progresses, ESL students may find that sentences with parallel structure can serve many purposes, such as a thesis sentence in an essay or the concluding sentence of a paragraph. (more…)

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