Two Activities to Improve English Writing Proficiency

Improve English writing proficiency

How can EFL teachers help students learn English writing by improving proficiency?

Balance, imagination and specificity 

  • Balance means a good mix of activities and techniques that touch upon essential writing skills and maintain class interest.
  • Imagination means new and interesting ways to teach essential stuff.
  • Specificity means a clear purpose. Every activity needs a measurable objective that focuses on improving the accuracy of one writing element.

Here are two activities which I have used to help my EFL students learn English writing and improve accuracy.

1. Definite and Indefinite Articles

Using articles correctly in a long passage just might be one of the most difficult aspects of proficiency for English students. Internalizing the rules takes years of practice. So, every writing class needs a lesson or two focusing on this essential writing skill.

This flexible writing activity blends many layers of learning into one compact lesson. It is extremely versatile and can be adjusted to meet the needs of your class. The activity is based on a picture prompt which contains an old logic puzzle about a man who wants to cross a river with three things.

The objectives of this activity are to:

  • demonstrate an ability to use articles correctly
  • expand range of vocabulary to describe routine actions
  • practice elementary problem-solving skills


Pre-teach rules about articles. Display picture prompt (below) with seven illustrations. Introduce puzzle by reading introduction at the top of the prompt. Tell students there are three challenges:

  1. solve the puzzle by putting the pictures in the correct order
  2. write the story in a long passage being very careful to use articles correctly
  3. use synonyms to describe the task of moving the boat many times between the land and the island


2. Learn Appositives

An appositive is a noun, or noun phrase, that modifies another noun. This compact sentence pattern is extremely useful because it packs a lot of information into a small space. When students learn to write appositives well, the quality of writing increases because it aids in style (e.g. sentence variety) and adds a dash of sophistication.

The objectives of this activity are to:

  • understand the structure of appositives through sentence combining
  • create appositives by editing a short passage


  • Pre-teach appositives with the examples on Worksheet 8-1.
  • Practice writing appositives with the sentence combining questions on Part 1 of Worksheet 8-2. Check answers on Worksheet 8-3.
  • Edit the short passage in Part 2 of Worksheet 8-3.  Check answers on Worksheet 8-3.appositive-1appositive-2appositive-3


Teach writing?

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Cut your lesson prep time with this 240-page collection of ESL resources that stimulate language learning and critical thinking: awesome pair work speaking activities, logic puzzles, trivia, word games and much more. Simplify your lesson planning because teaching should be a joy, not a chore.toolbox-front-cover-3d-book-8-8

Image Credits

Featured image by Rafiq Sarlie. Its use complies with the owner’s creative commons licensing terms.


1 thought on “Two Activities to Improve English Writing Proficiency”

  1. Wow, such an awesome piece! I really enjoyed it! How important is the imagination for writers? I mean, is it possible to be a good writer just by following predetermined patterns?

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