“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”
― Ernest Hemingway
This article is tailored more towards helping second language learners improve their writing skills. However, many of the following tips can be useful for native English speakers as well.
Some of the most effective methods for elevating students’ writing involve teaching them about proper structure, descriptive writing, and autonomous learning. These three factors can be easily implemented into your lessons on a frequent basis.
As a result, by understanding how to improve writing skills in English better, your students will feel more confident next time they have to do a writing assignment.
1. Teach Proper Writing Structure
Foreign language students sometimes have trouble grasping how to format an essay properly. Other types of writing also follow a common structure. Depending on the assignment, you should first make sure that they know how to form an outline before they start writing anything.
For instance, if students are doing an essay, there are important components that they should be aware of. In other words, give them a blueprint of the house before they build it. Having a solid structural foundation is essential.
An effective method for teaching essay structure is to outline it visually on the classroom board.
First, draw groups of lines on the board that represent the five paragraphs of a standard essay. Elicit the types of paragraphs, including introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. You can use different marker colors to represent the topic sentences, supporting details, and concluding sentences of each paragraph.
This clear visual representation will give them a strong foundation for understanding and using proper paragraph structure.
2. Improve Descriptive Writing
Another way to elevate students’ writing ability is to teach them more about descriptive writing.
There are a few ways that you can do this. One is to start with basic sentences and slowly building up the description with adjectives, comparisons, similes, and clauses.
Another method is to use chocolate.
Yes, that’s right. Chocolate.
Give your students a sheet of paper and have them write the five human senses at the top, including sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. They should have five columns total.
Next, give them a small piece of chocolate but tell them NOT to eat it yet.
Using the chocolate, they should write as many adjectives as they can, describing how it looks, smells, sounds (more difficult), and feels. Finally, they can eat it and write adjectives about how it tastes.
At the end of the exercise, elicit all of the adjectives that everyone came up with on the board for the entire class to see.
The students can then write a short descriptive paragraph describing the chocolate using as many of the words as they can. Anywhere from five to ten sentences would be a reasonable goal for them depending on their level.
3. Encourage Autonomous Learning
The last tip for improving students’ writing skills is to promote autonomous learning. Basically, this means encourage them to be more independent learners. There are a few ways to do this.
One method is to assign diary writing assignments. They could be hand-in assignments or simply have them do it on their own without checking them. It will probably depend on their age. If they are younger learners then they may require some extra encouragement or submission requirements.
Another tip for helping students to become more autonomous learners is project-based assignments. During the term, they could work on an essay or book review to be submitted after a few weeks. They should complete the writing in small steps on their own progressively.
Occasionally, you can review their writing once a week to see how they are doing. Give them tips as they complete each page or section. By the end, they should have a final draft that reflects a significant improvement in their writing ability.
By teaching your students about structure, descriptive writing, and encouraging autonomous learning, they are likely to become better writers as a result. Try to make the lessons interactive as well and remember to take writing breaks that involve discussion. Peer reviews and talking about students’ written assignments in pairs can be helpful techniques too.
More Ideas and Activities for Writing Skills
Do you have any other tips about how to improve writing skills in English classes?
Please leave a comment and share your advice with other teachers.