ESL Writing Activities
This ESL writing lesson helps students practice summary writing with video prompts. It covers the basics of summaries and works well for high beginner+ students.
Step 1 What is a Summary?
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.
- are much shorter than the original
- include main ideas along with character, plot, setting
- paraphrase words (no copying and pasting)
- have a good opening sentence and conclusion
Step 2 Why is summarizing important?
- Thinking skill: separate the important from unimportant
- Organize: put information in logical order
- Build vocabulary: understand the words before paraphrasing
Step 3 Watch a Video
Purpose: practice describing things and ideas
What to do: watch a video and make notes. Your final story will be a one-page summary that describes two things:
- the story (setting, main characters, plot) and main ideas;
- your idea about the story’s message.
Part 1 is descriptive and factual. The hard part is to focus on the main parts and don’t include too many details. Part 2 is your idea. Be sure to include reasons.
Video for the ESL Class
One of my favorites. Good story with a simple message. There’s no dialogue, so it’s a good choice for an ESL writing class with high beginners.
The ending is kind of flat, but if students get past the low comedy there is a message in the story. No dialogue and a simple plot.
There’s a simple plot and a complex message. Save this video for high intermediate classes because students might need to brainstorm a few ideas before writing. No dialogue.
Another simple plot with a challenging message that can be interpreted in many ways. No dialogue.
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