Sophomore ESL Writing, Week 2

Here is this week’s plan to help ESL students learn English writing.

  1. information: ensure everyone knows about the website and syllabus
  2. parts of speech lesson
  3. write a summary of a video (homeless man)
  4. complete first step of Before and After Writing
  5. complete chapter 1 in the textbook
  6. start fluency writing
  7. write a hypothesis

Next Week

Next week we will focus our writing on a couple of specific skills:

  • writing summaries
  • writing a hypothesis
  • describing relationships between two variables
  • explaining cause and effect

To prepare for that work, we need to develop a couple of skills. One skill is writing a summary, which we will do this week (see below). Another skills is writing a hypothesis, which we will do next week.

Next week, our lesson will require you to get some information from this video. You might want to watch and listen to this video a couple of times to get the main ideas.


What is a Summary?

Part A. Intro

Take a long story and make it short. Really short. A long story can be a movie, a book, a newspaper story or something you heard on the radio. Summaries usually have these features:

  • much shorter than the original story
  • include only main ideas, important information as well as the main supporting ideas
  • paraphrasing – use different words and phrases to say the same ideas (no copy and pasting)
  • it’s coherent, not just a bunch of sentences put together (e.g. has a strong opening sentence, cohesion elements, style elements, and a hook in the conclusion)

Why is summarizing important?

  1. Learn to evaluate – separate the important from not important (its a thinking skill).
  2. Learn to organize – text an long text and put the information in logical order.
  3. It’s a job skill – managers and company owners often want the gist, the key points.
  4. It builds your vocabulary – you have to understand the words and phrase before you can paraphrase.
  5. Efficient writing – stay focused on main idea, cut out the unnecessary words and phrases.

Part B. Video Summary

Purpose:  practice describing things and ideas

What to do: watch the video and make notes. Your final product will be a one-page summary that describes two things: 1) a summary of the story (setting, main characters, main events move from beginning to end); 2) your idea about the story’s message.

Part 1 is descriptive and somewhat factual. The hard part is to focus on the main parts and don’t include too many details. The second part is interpretive. Describe your idea, Provide evidence and reasons.


Part C. Short Story Summary

We will do this short story summary writing activity in class.


Before and After Writing Analysis

This exercise is for two writing classes: EGL 106-08 and ENT 224-02.

Purpose: to provide students with a way to see improvement in their writing skills over the semester.

What to do: read the short story about a place. Notice writing techniques that help the reader learn about the place. Notice elements of writing style.

Now it’s your turn. Choose a place and write an interesting short story about it.