Published 28th May 2019

EFL writing

If we’re honest, we know that EFL writing is not our students’ favourite part of learning English as a Foreign Language. Writing even in your own language is not enjoyable for everyone and writing in a foreign language is that much more difficult. In order to write effectively in English learners need to consider their vocabulary and grammar choices, sentence structure and level of formality – not an easy task.

Keeping all of these in mind while EFL writing means that writing can take some time and a lot of effort. It’s not surprising that EFL writing is not at the top of our learners list of things they want to do in the classroom. There are various ways we can make writing in class less of a chore and more of a fun activity, such as by providing scaffolding.

What is scaffolding?

Scaffolding is the support structures you find outside a building during renovations. It is the poles and planks that are used to support the building or the workers who are cleaning, repairing or building. Scaffolding is only put up where necessary and is removed as soon as it is no longer needed.

In the classroom, scaffolding works in a similar way. Scaffolding is an activity which helps the learners understand a language point or concept. In terms of writing, scaffolding would be any activities which build learners up to completing a writing task.

Ideas for effective scaffolding techniques for an EFL writing lesson

Half sentences

For lower level EFL learners, the teacher can provide half sentences as stimuli for the learners. In other words, the teacher writes the beginning half or the second half of some sentences and the learners can complete them however they wish. An entire piece of writing can be completed in this way or the teacher can stipulate how they should be used.

For example:

On Saturday I ______________________.

When we got home we ______________.

Model texts

Even when writing in your native language, it’s helpful to see a model example of the text you need to write. If, say, you need to write a college application essay or an academic essay, it’s useful to see a good example to base yours on. The same goes for EFL texts – perhaps even more so. By providing your learners with an example text you are giving them an idea of the structure of the text and examples of good language. Even though they are not allowed to copy it completely, they can use the model as the foundation for their writing.

Interactive Word Walls

An Interactive Word Wall is a wall in the classroom dedicated to language. It has vocabulary items written or stuck on it, as well as language ideas or prompts. Interactive Word Walls are usually created by students who decide what should be on it, and so it will be changed regularly. Interactive Word Walls are meant to be used as sources of inspiration for learners.

Writing can be challenging but by helping our learners as much as we can, we can make it more achievable and more enjoyable.