Writing Class Week 10


Let’s review some of the writing skills we have learned and practiced so far in this English composition class.

  1. IDEA: Create summaries. Find the main idea.
  2. ORGANISATION: Paragraph structure. Progression, how to describe change in time, place and events.
  3. VOICE: Express your ideas, your personality.
  4. WORD CHOICE: Close and far away words. Give precise descriptions.
  5. SENTENCE FLUENCY: Use short and long sentences to create effect. Emphasis. Fix run on and choppy sentences.
  6. CONVENTIONS: spelling, punctuation and proper paragraph format.

These are the writing skills we have learned and practiced. Now it is time to put these skills to a different use. Let’s use these skills to write different kinds of communication and business documents. The kinds of things English students might need to write when they get a job.

Writing Activity: Learn to Write a Summary Report

In this activity, you will need to use several skills: thinking, understanding, analysis and evaluation.

Your Summary Report Tasks

1. Understand the data in each chart.

2. Analyze the changes. Identify and describe the important changes. Write a summary for each chart.

3. Explain the reasons for the changes in the data.

4. predict what might happen in the near future – say ten years).

5. Write your text in a memo format written in a professional manner.


Old Stuff for ESL Students

This is week 10 of the semester. The main theme of this week’s work is how to improve the quality of student writing during the rewrite. Learning how to rewrite well might be more important than knowing how to write English stories, letters and essays.

The students should learn how to improve their writing by:

  • understanding the concept of close and far away words and how it can make writing more interesting, especially as a tool rewriting text.
  • practice writing short interesting sentences that make comparisons by writing a Coke advertisement. The true skill of this writing technique will become most evident during the rewriting work. It requires close attention to the types of verbs used, antecedents and word rhythm.


Here are the answers for the questions in Chapter 5 of the textbook.

ESL Writing Activity #1: Close and Faraway Words

Here is a technique to help students writer better. I found this in a book called The Classic Guide to Better Writing.

Some words and phrases are so general they keep the reader faraway. Detailed words bring the read closer to the real image or situation.

Here are some examples.

  • The weather has been a little crazy during the last few days. (Blah. Simple. Faraway. Not specific)

Here is a revised sentence.

  • Yesterday was a cold cloudy day with lots of rain in the morning. Today, the sky is blue and the temperature already at 25 degrees.

Another example.

  • When I came into the room, my daughter was reading a book. (Blah.)

This sentence brings us closer to the situation.

  • When I came into the room, my daughter, Julia, was lying on the floor, flat on her stomach, reading Brave New World, Huxley’s famous novel sci-fi novel.

Practice 1

Read these sentences. Rewrite the sentences with words and phrases that create a strong, close up picture for the reader.

  1. The audience applauded when the actress walked down the red carpet.
  2. The firefighters worked as the crowd watched.
  3. The angry animal walked towards me.
  4. It was a beautiful spring morning when we got into our car and drove off to the pension.

Practice 2

Use these sentences as a writing prompt. Write a picture with words and phrases that bring the reader close to the action. Also use a few appositives, the things we practiced at the top of this lesson page!

  1. By the time I arrived, the store was in flames.
  2. Late at night, the beach was filled with a unusual sights and sounds.
  3. The entire city seemed to fill the downtown area.

ESL Writing Activity #2

Here are two different models of guided slow writing. Each student will write a piece following one model.

Model A

  1. First sentence begins with a present participle (a verb ending in ‘ing’)
  2. Second sentence contains only three words.
  3. Third sentence contains an exclamation mark.
  4. Fourth sentence is a rhetorical question.
  5. Fifth sentence starts with an adverb.
  6. Sixth sentence has a simile (compare two things with LIKE, or AS … AS)

Model B

  1. First sentence appeals to the senses.
  2. Second sentence uses three adjectives.
  3. Third sentence starts with an adverb.
  4. Fourth sentence contains a connective.
  5. Fifth sentence uses exactly three words.
  6. Sixth sentence is a question.


  • Connective. A word or phrase that shows a shift in time, a combination or a change. For example:
  1. Add information – In addition
  2. Show contrast – However
  3. Comparing – On the other hand
  4. Show order – first, then
  5. Show cause – Therefore, As a result
  6. Show emotion – Feeling betrayed …

ESL Writing Activity #3

Here is an advertisement for Coke. Watch it a few times. Then write sentences that describe the comparisons or differences in each segment.

Writing Class Week 9

The exam is over so now it’s for the students to continue learning how to write English text.

Podcasts for ESL Students

This week, I will introduce a couple of podcasts which can help my ESL students learn English.

The Memory Palace is a story telling podcast. The stories are well written so they podcasts can help student appreciate the art of story telling, the beauty of descriptive text and the art of completing a story with tidy conclusion. Great for short trips on the bus or subway, the stories are usually about 5 minutes long.

Wiretap is a 25 minute podcast from Canada. It’s a humor program with stories that are sometimes insightful and moving. Sometimes it’s just weird. The official website has one or two new stories per week. This website has links to many more episodes.

ESL Writing Activity#1: So and Because

Look at these sentences.

  1. We needed some fruit so I went to the supermarket.
  2. She studied all night because she had an English exam the next day.

Now look at these sentences. What is the difference?

  1. I went to the supermarket because we need some fruit
  2. She had an English exam the next day so she studied all night..

Write sentences with SO and BECAUSE for each of these prompts. Be creative.

  1. I had to get up early.
  2. I’m thirsty.
  3. She wants to speak German.
  4. My family needed a vacation.
  5. They’re going to visit me tomorrow.
  6. We went for a walk.
  7. My student won one billion won in the lottery.
  8. He bought a Smartphone.

ESL Writing Activity#2: While and During

Part A: While is used when writing about two actions happening at the same time.

While is used with a subject and verb.

  1. While I was playing with my cat, my brother was doing his homework.
  2. While we were playing poker, the CD was playing.
  3. My father doesn’t like the TV on while we are eating dinner.

Part B: During tells us when an action is (was) happening.

During is used with a noun/pronoun.

  1. My students are really busy during the week.
  2. He was sleeping during the party.
  3. The electricity went out during the storm.

Part C: Write 5 sentences each with while and during.

ESL Writing Activity #3: Write a Story with Progression

Progression is a writing skill. It uses words and sentences to move a story from the beginning to an ending. There are many ways to show progress. You can show the movement of time or the change of places. When you can with a style that shows progress, your writing will be clearer and more interesting.

Part A

  1. Listen to the story called Missed Connection.
  2. Here is the script for the story.
  3. Here is a story about Missed Connection.

Let’s analyze the story by:

  • making summary
  • describing some of the ways the writer used words and sentences to show progress

Part B: Extension

Now write your own story which demonstrates progression.

ESL Writing Activity #4: Video Summary Writing

In this writing exercise, you are going to write a long summary. Here is the process.

  1. Watch the video.
  2. Work with a partner and discuss the comprehension questions.
  3. Write your summary.


  1. Where did they meet?
  2. What did he notice about the girl?
  3. What happens when the guy wants to talk about the problem?
  4. Why did she leave him?
  5. When she leaves, what 3 things does the man do?
  6. Where do they meet again?
  7. What happens when they meet?
  8. Who is to blame for the breakup?
  9. Why does the title Focus mean?
  10. Why does the video director put some things out of focus?
  11. In the end, the narrator says, “You question your focus.” What does that mean?

Focus from Ari Kruger on Vimeo.

Quick ESL Writing Warm Up Exercises

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.

  1. UP ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   SPIDER

  2. BLACK   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   NICE

  3. SMALL   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   BEST

  4. DRINKING   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   LIGHT

  5. SUNNY   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___   AIRPLANE

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