Learn English Writing, Basic Class: Week 2

Learn English Writing, Week 2


This weeks’ plan.

  1. Last week you wrote a short story about a boy and his mother after watching the video Howl. This week please rewrite the second draft and give it to me to read.
  2. Learn about the Six Traits of good writing.
  3. Two or three writing exercises.
  4. Review answers from chapter 1 of the textbook.
  5. Here are some answers for Unit 1 in the textbook.
  6. Let’s do some more editing: try the second and third paragraphs.
  7. Here is a warm up exercise that helps students students write a good paragraph. It’s called looping.

UPDATE (Friday the 13th)

This week, most students completed two or three short writing activities, as described below. I have read all of the student writing and offer these general comments on patterns of errors that I hope we can correct over the next few weeks (or sooner).

There are two categories of errors: conventions (e.g. basic grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc) and style (i.e. how well the meaning is expressed through vocabulary, sentence fluency and organisation).

In general, here are three ways to improve your writing:

  1. think before writing
  2. think while writing
  3. slow down – it’s not a race

The first or second draft always has a few problems. Nobody ever writes a perfect story the first time. Please review these comments and use them to help you when rewriting your stories.The idea is to get better with each draft.


  1. BE verb plus second verb that doesn’t match (e.g. I’m was watching the window)
  2. poor prepositional phrases
  3. wrong order of verb and adverb
  4. confuse he and his (subject and pronoun)
  5. wrong use of articles The and A
  6. incorrect  use of ED and ING endings on adjectives
  7. confuse so and such
  8. confusing verb tense (use present tense and past tense)


  1. forget to use paragraphs
  2. not enough details or explanations to support ideas
  3. many ideas left unspoken (e.g. It was the best day of the summer. – why best?)
  4. sentences in wrong order
  5. sentences too wordy
  6. repeat same word in one sentence
  7. not enough synonyms

Six Traits of Good Writing

This week we will learn about Six Writing Traits. It’s a framework to help teachers evaluate student writing. It also helps students understand what makes good writing. This is important to know because good writing is more than good grammar.

  1. IDEA: a clear message and story. Good writing shows, it does not tell.
  2. ORGANISATION: There is a beginning and an end.
  3. VOICE: The writing shows a little bit about you. There is a person writing, not a robot. There is feeling, humor, personality.
  4. WORD CHOICE: Use words that describe people, places, things and actions very well. Great words paint a picture.
  5. SENTENCE FLUENCY: Sentences have rhythm just like music. Writing with long and short sentences is one way to create rhythm.
  6. CONVENTIONS: The mechanics of writing, which includes  spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and paragraphing.

ESL Writing Exercise 1: Six Sentences

The Idea

This controlled writing activity helps students write clear sentences by focusing their attention on every word.

Step 1

Write a six-sentence paragraph with three rules.

  1. Do not repeat any word, including contractions and articles.
  2. The paragraph must tell a story.
  3. The final product should be a structured paragraph (i.e. there is a topic sentence and cohesion).

Step 2 – The Example

I went to school today. My backpack was full of stuff. It had binders and pencils inside. They were used for class work. Brittany is in first period with me. She has a bag filled with things as well.

Step 3

Students write. When completed, these short passages can be used as the base text for a small group dictogloss exercise.

The Skill

Improve clarity of meaning by reinforcing proper use of antecedents and expand student vocabulary through synonyms.

ESL Writing Exercise 2: Adding Your Voice

Click here to get that writing lesson activity about adding voice to a text


ESL Writing Exercise 3: Word Choice, Voice and Articles

The Idea

This writing activity helps ESL students learn to add their voice to a story along with word choice and one grammar point; watch carefully how students use definite articles – the, a, an.

Step 1

Look at the pictures on this worksheet. The story is called Dog and Sausage.

Step 2

In the story, I want you to be one of the characters, either the boy or the dog. Write the story from that perspective.

Step 3

The key point here is to use use a variety of verbs to describe actions, places and senses.  Add details.

The Skill

Improve the ESL students’ ability to describe places with details and add their own voice to the story.



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