#9 Teach English Writing – Sentence Fluency

Teach English Writing – Sentence Fluency

Main Idea

Here’s an ESL writing activity that might become part of your weekly lesson plan. It helps students improve English writing fluency by targeting specific sentence patterns in timed writing exercises.

This lesson asks students to write targeted sentence patterns based on pictures prompts in conjunction with their own imagination and experience.

Lesson Overview

This lesson runs 10-15 minutes, including time to explain tasks and model targeted sentence patterns.

Before class:

  1. Prepare images. For this exercise, I collected two groups of pictures – five pics per group – with Creative Commons license from Flickr.
  2. Decide which sentence patterns will be the focus of the fluency exercise. I like to focus on patterns that students struggle with, like sentences with prepositional phrases, appositives and complex sentences. These patterns are the focus of the lesson described below.

Lesson Flow

  • Step 1. Describe the task to students: write three sentences for each picture within the time limit.
  • Step 2. Model the target sentence patterns. Encourage students to use their imagination and predict what might be happening in the picture.
  • Step 3. Students begin writing.
  • Step 4. Allow three minutes to write three sentences for the first pictures (e.g. more time for slow starters).
  • Step 5. Allow two minutes for each of the remaining pictures.
  • Step 6. Collect student papers. Return later with feedback before running this fluency exercise again.


  • Image packs for this lesson: Group 1 and Group 2.
  • This writing lesson is based on an article by Laurie Opfell in the book, Practical Ideas for Teaching Writing as a Process (1987, California State Department of Education).

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All images used in these writing exercises comply with the owner’s creative commons licensing terms; links provided below:

Group 1

Group 2


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