Published 8th March 2019
Writing is an essential skill in a foreign language. Without being able to write, a learner cannot claim to be fluent in a language. At the same time, writing is not the easiest of language skills to master. Our language learners can struggle with writing in English. It is up to us to help them overcome their difficulties and write better.
Encourage your learners to read
Reading increases vocabulary, illustrates natural language and exposes the reader to correct sentence structure. Three very good reasons to read. Encourage your learners to read in their spare time. If you have reluctant readers, encourage them to read anything – blogs, social media, graphic novels. If your students are more enthusiastic about reading, encourage them to read graded readers, novels and newspapers.
Create a personalised dictionary
Dictionaries are amazing tools when you need to look up the meaning of a word, but it is even better to create a dictionary specifically for you. Encourage your students to use this dictionary to record useful phrases and new words which they have learnt and which are useful their own writing purposes. When they tackle a piece of writing, give them free access to their dictionary to inspire them to use this new vocabulary.
When you are giving a writing lesson, show your students that writing is a process. Writing does not take place in five minutes. It needs to be done again and again, each time with improvements. Once your students realise that even native speakers need to check and edit their writing, they won’t feel the pressure to write a perfect essay in twenty minutes.
Keep it simple
Remind your students that simpler is often better. Tell them to put their thoughts down on paper in such a way that they are clear and easy to understand. Once they have done that they can spend time on improving their vocabulary or sentence structure.
Use online resources
There is no reason your students shouldn’t take advantage of the writing tools available online. There are websites that can help with grammar and give vocabulary suggestions. Native speakers use these tools all the time when writing. These days it’s part of the process of writing. Encourage your students to use the Internet when necessary and their writing will improve dramatically.
Writing should not be a stand-alone lesson once every two weeks. You should try incorporate writing into your lessons as much as possible. The more practice your students get writing, the more comfortable they will feel doing it and the better they will get.
Writing in the EFL classroom doesn’t have to be the snoozefest many of our students think it is. If you help your students get to grips with writing, they will start to enjoy it. The more time your learners spend doing it, the better their writing will be, and the better their English will be.