Teacher Training: Paraphrase Writing Class Outline

Clear Writing with Paraphrased Sources

The purpose of this writing session is to improve your English writing skills by learning how to paraphrase authoritative sources that support an argument.

By the end of this session, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an ability to use 6-8 paraphrasing techniques.
  2. Accurately paraphrase small passages.
  3. Seamlessly integrate sources into a short (say 1 to 3 paragraphs) piece of writing.
  4. Master a variety of sentence structures.
  5. Develop a rich written vocabulary. 


Paraphrasing is a reading and writing skill. It works like this: you read a sentence or passage (several times if necessary), find the meaning and write that original writer’s meaning in a different way.

Here are some characteristics of good paraphrasing:

  1. Communicates the original idea.
  2. References the original source.
  3. Does not add your opinion.
  4. Uses about the same number of words.
  5. Uses a combination of writing skills including different words and sentence structures.
  6. Blends the original idea into your own writing. 

Here is a checklist for good paraphrasing:

  1. It’s okay to use common terms, such as the author’s name or topic.
  2. If we borrow key words, they should be placed inside quotations.
  3. When paraphrasing text, start with the source name. 
  4. In academic writing include a source reference.

Here is an example.

Original text:

For effective communication, it is necessary to have a fairly accurate idea of what our listeners know or do not know that is pertinent to the communication. If we assume that people know something they do not, then miscommunication and perhaps embarrassment may result (Nickerson, 1999).

Paraphrased text:

Nickerson (1999) suggests we need a reasonably good understanding of what the audience knows in order to communicate well. Faulty assumptions about what the listener knows, or doesn’t know, can lead to misunderstandings or moments of chagrin.


No. Paraphrasing shows you understand other people’s ideas and can write them in a way that makes sense to you. Summarizing shrinks a long text – sometimes a book – and focuses on the main ideas. Details are eliminated. Lists are deleted.


In an ESL environment, paraphrasing is a useful learning tool.

  1. Improves reading comprehension by focusing on the meaning of words and phrases. Paraphrasing is impossible without good reading comprehension.
  2. Helps the student master a variety of sentence patterns.
  3. Expands the student’s range of vocabulary.
  4. Learn how to control a paragraph by blending paraphrased text with the student’s own ideas.
  5. Teaches students how to use authoritative sources and create new knowledge. 


  1. ESL students have a hard time maintaining the original writer’s tone or intent because of a lack of vocabulary and/or inability to create different sentence structures.
  2. ESL writers have problems with syntactic simplifications.
  3. One study reports that L2 students see copying as a legitimate strategy for paraphrasing.


The general structure of our ESL writing class will be as follows.

  1. learn 4-7 specific paraphrasing techniques
  2. apply those skills to short passages
  3. write a longer piece that integrates authoritative sources into an argument piece


As an aside, here is some research about Korean problems with English writing.

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