ESL Writing Lesson: Better Paragraphs

Why can’t students craft good paragraphs? Perhaps, they’ve never learned to notice the logical breaks in ideas. This easy writing lesson, great for high beginner+, helps students notice paragraph breaks by providing obvious cues.

Better Paragraphs Overview


  • 30-40 minutes


  • Students will write a fictitious story.
  • It’s about a character that goes on a journey and finds four things.

Writing Task Explained

You are going to write a short story about adventure and discovery. The focus of this creative writing exercise is descriptive details which activate the senses. There should be a strong sense of place and movement.

There are 3 requirements.

First, finish the first draft in 20-25 minutes.

Second, your story must include four things.

Third, each thing must be described in a separate paragraph. The four things you need to put in the story are:

  1. Woods. You are walking in a forest. What is it like? What do you see and feel?
  2. Water. You come to water (e.g. a lake, river, ocean). Describe what you see, hear, feel. What do you do?
  3. A Key. Describe the key. What do you do with it?
  4. A Barrier. At the end of the woods, there is a barrier of some kind (e.g. a door, gate, wall). What is it like? What is on the other side? What do you do about it?

Like all stories, there should be:

  • a good first sentence to create reader interest
  • a character who wants something
  • a story with a beginning, middle and end

Skills Focus

  • thinking
  • text organisation
  • noticing cues for paragraph breaks
  • listening to a short teach talk


Note to teachers

To add a bit of fun to the writing assignment, there is a code which can be used to interpret each student’s description of the four elements.

Want the code as well as the full lesson plan, including worksheets that can be printed or displayed on a classroom projector? Click here to get the ESL writing lesson plan as a pdf.

Teach writing and critical thinking skills

In the ebook Teach Writing Thinkingly, you get 20 lessons that help students improve composition style and mechanics and learn language skills to express and critique arguments and ideas. Click HERE for details.ESL writing lessons

Teach writing?

Get the ebook Teach Essential Writing Skills. Transform the quality of EFL student writing by focusing on four essential skills. Click here for details about the ebook that should be part of every writing teacher’s resource library.


Save time. Teach well.

Cut your lesson prep time with this colossal collection of ESL resources that stimulate language learning and critical thinking. Simplify your lesson planning because teaching should be a joy, not a chore.


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