English Writing Activities to Explore Words
Verbs are an important part of writing with style. They add variety and can be very descriptive. Sometimes, students rely on a small set of verbs. That can make student writing a little dull.
This ESL writing activity helps students expand their awareness of word choice. It introduces writers to a brave new world of verbs, even though they may be familiar with the words as nouns.
Part 1 ESL Writing Activity Introduction
Describe the learning objectives:
- to improve the quality of writing by learning new verbs;
- to improve writing skills by completing practice exercises with complex and compound sentences;
- to improve learning by completing word substitution exercises.
Part 2 Word List
Look at these 15 words. Can you divide them into three equal groups based on some common characteristics? (Here’s a pdf file with the words and answers.)
- eye book horse sandwich back
- foot bug box tap chicken
- duck elbow pocket hog head
Part 3 Answers
All of the words can be divided into three groups: body parts, animals and things around the house. In addition, all of these words can be used as verbs.
1 eye, foot, elbow, back, head
2 duck, bug, horse, hog, chicken
3 book, box, pocket, tap, sandwich
Part 4 Meanings
Ask students to look over the words. They need to know how to use them as verbs. Spending time with a dictionary might be a good idea. Working in pairs might save time.
Remind students that some words might need a preposition in the verb form.
Part 5 Demonstrate Meaning
Students write one to three sentences for each verb. Be sure the context and meaning are easy to understand for each verb.
A simple sentence like, “John eyes the book” does not show an understanding of the word meaning.
For some classes, I give students more direct instructions.
- For 5 verbs, be sure to include a complex sentence in the practice sentences.
- For 5 additional verbs, include a compound sentence for each verb.
Part 6 Word Substitution
The attached pdf file has 15 practice questions. Ask students to rewrite the sentences by replacing a word or phrase with a verb from the list above that has a similar meaning.
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