Learn English Writing: From Paragraphs to Short Essays

So far, the ESL students have completed many paragraph writing assignments. The learning objectives were to look at a table of data, find the most important ideas and write a well structured paragraph.

That means, a paragraph with a good topic sentence, supporting ideas and an conclusion.


The English composition students looked at different sets of food consumption data for Korea and other countries: fruit, vegetables, meat and other foods like grains. Those data tables are here: ESL writing lesson raw data.

Now it is time to put to the whole thing together. The assignment today is to write a five paragraph essay. Here is the writing plan.

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ESL Writing: Comparatives, Most and Almost

Here is the truth about writing for English students. Learning how to write English well takes time.  A lot of time.


Writing is a skill. It is not a bunch of facts. Unlike math, social studies or other school subjects, writing can’t be memorized. It is like learning how to play the piano or basketball. It often takes years of regular practice to see

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25 Thought Provoking Questions

The new semester is almost here and it’s time to start thinking writing prompts for my ESL university students.

Paragraph Writing

Here is a link to 25 questions. Many of the questions are excellent prompts for short story writing or one paragraph compositions for ESL students: ESL writing prompts.

ESL Student Writing Assignment

Look at the list of questions. Choose one question that seems to appeal to you right now.

  1. Think about the question.
  2. Make some notes.
  3. Think about how you will answer the question in one paragraph.
  4. Consider your first sentence carefully.

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ESL Writing – Editing Worksheets

As a university writing teacher, I wonder what is the best way to help my students see, correct and avoid writing mistakes.

Slowly, I am coming to the conclusion that the old teaching style is not very effective. The old way, for me, is a writing lesson that goes like this: the teacher gives a writing assignment, the student writes it, the teacher goes home with a bag filled with 50 papers, spends part of the weekend making corrections, hands the papers back on Monday, the students try to decode the teacher’s scribblings, the students re-write the paper, the end.

Better Writing Lessons

For a lot of reasons, the old way has to stay. But I’ll do it less. My goal is to teach students how to see, correct and ultimately avoid basic writing errors. And, the old is not the only way.

What is a basic writing error? For Korean students, most writing errors fall into six categories:

  • word choice
  • verb tense
  • prepositions
  • articles
  • subject-verb agreement
  • conventions (e.g. spelling and punctuation)


Peer review is one way for students to quickly learn how to detect and maybe avoid errors. The idea is simple. Student A writes something. Student B finds the errors. Student A re-writes. Like many teaching ideas in the ESL world, it sounds great in theory but doesn’t always work well in the classroom.

Editing exercises seem to offer more hope for student achievement. They teach the students what to look for and how to correct the errors.

Editing Worksheet

So, for our next class, dear students, download these editing worksheet and try to find most of the writing errors. Then re-write the paragraphs.

Update: here are the answers for the editing worksheet questions: esl-writing-editing-worksheets.