Here are a few writing activities to help ESL students learn writing by getting their mind into the words and ideas. A creative head space, to use the parlance of the 1980s.
Writing Warm Up #1: Free Association
This is a five-minute activity to help students think about connections between words.
- Students add a word to each blank. Each pair of side by side words must be connected in some way.
- They might be opposites, synonyms or rhymes. Any connection is okay as long as the student can explain the link in a reasonably logical way.
- Add five words between the beginning and end.
It’s a free flowing game, so it’s meant to be creative and fun.
UP ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ SPIDER
BLACK ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ NICE
SMALL ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ BEST
DRINKING ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ LIGHT
SUNNY ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ AIRPLANE
Writing Warm Up #2: Looping
This is a ten-minute free writing activity with a twist.
Look at these words. Pick one for your topic.
- afraid – pollution – movie – water – pencil – cool – hip – baby
Free write for five minutes. Don’t think too much. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or neatness. Just create.
- At the end of five minutes, draw a line under your writing.
- Under that line, summarize your free writing in a single sentence, like a topic sentence.
- Now rewrite your story in a proper paragraph with a controlling sentence and good organisation.
What’s the point?
You might be surprised by what you can write when you don’t feel the pressure to produce a perfectly written paragraph in one draft. Somebody once said there are no good writers, just really good editors. Maybe that’s true.