Week 2 ESL Writing Class

This week, the ESL writing class has several specific composition objectives.

  1. Learn the six parts of good writing. They are called Six Writing Traits.
  2. Practice rewriting a short passage with a better description and better voice.
  3. Write a short story with a great description and a strong voice.
  4. Write a story that shows us an emotion but does not tell us the emotion. 


IDEA: a clear message. Good writing shows, it does not tell. Include bits of information often forgotten. Stimulating, interesting, surprising content.

ORGANISATION: The structure of the writing. Is it compare and contrast, point by point analysis, chronological? There is a beginning and an end.

VOICE: We can see there is a person writing to us, not a template. There is feeling, humor, personality.

WORD CHOICE: Rich, descriptive vocabulary. Not simple words that are as interesting as a piece stale of white bread. Great words ignite images and a sensory experience in the reader’s mind. Not just a powerful vocabulary but a skill in choosing the right word for each situation.

SENTENCE FLUENCY: Sentences have rhythm just like music. We see the flow with our ears and mind. Play with long and short sentences.

CONVENTIONS: The mechanics of writing, which includes  spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and paragraphing.



Here is a short lesson that helps students develop an understanding of voice.

1  Read the following passage.

I was really excited about going. It would be the best day of the summer. We were going to go rafting. My mother, father, brother, and sister got to go. They were excited, too. My dad knew a lot of stuff about rafting. This would be neat. When we got to the river, it looked big. The water was moving fast. I got scared. It turned out to be fun. We ate sandwiches and drank pop. I wore a life jacket and got wet.

It was the best thing I did all summer.

2. How would you describe this short story?

3. Work in pairs to find ways to improve the voice. (scroll down to read he features of good voice).

4. Rewrite the story with your voice.



Write a descriptive story that matches the pictures in this picture prompt. Keep in mind the six writing traits and be sure to add some voice and focus on word choice.



The task is to write a one or two paragraph story which is filled with emotion. But, and this is the hard part, you  cannot say what the emotion is. I found this writing project on a website by a writing teacher. I have changed some parts to make it a little easier for ESL students.

Here is the project.

A mother (or father) is sitting in a coffee shop. She was talking on the phone. Someone told her that her husband had just died in a car crash. Pretend you are that person. Describe what you see, what you hear, what you feel. How are the smells, the sounds? What does the coffee taste like?

Your job is describe how the person sees the world now that she has heard some very bad news. Basically, how emotion changes the way a person sees the world.

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