Writing with Variety

Members in my Patreon program voted to focus on sentence structure and sentence variety. We first reviewed sentences according to their purpose. I explained how much of their writing will be made up of declarative sentences. However, the strategic use of interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative sentences can spice up a text. Seeing models hit this…

Learning to Make Smooth Transitions and Connections

Having edited countless student submissions, I see that once learners have a grasp on organization and transitions, they gain confidence writing on nearly any topic. Gaining enough familiarity with conjunctive adverbs as well as sequence markers is like filling up their glue bottle for the next art project. Many high intermediate writers already know how…

Email Isn’t Just for Business English

Who doesn’t write email? In today’s world, sending and receiving email is as common as having your morning cup of coffee. (I admit I’m a tea drinker, though!) If our goal as ESL teachers is to prepare our students to handle spoken and written communication in a wide range of contexts, then email must absolutely…

Studying Syntax: A review of the basics

A number of my students have the desire to study syntax in order to increase their confidence and accuracy when they write. I continue to believe that reading regularly indirectly helps by exposing students to standard patterns and word order. I’ve also seen how exercises like sentence unscrambles and error correction can give students practice…

Snacking on Syntax

Practice fixing common errors at the sentence level. Classroom slides included.

Subject-Verb Agreement: Beyond Simple Sentences

Lack of subject-verb agreement is a common mistake, but errors in judgment with subject-verb agreement extend to inconsistency with reference words and combinations of indefinite articles with plural nouns. Doubts center around the concept of number. These additional mistakes can span two or more clauses. For that reason, I’ve created a writing task that goes…

6 Pitfalls of Writing

When I see my writing from twenty years ago or more, I cringe because I realize how much I had yet to learn. Not too long ago, I saw a writing project I did back in high school and my face turned red. The truth is that good writing is a pursuit. We improve through…

Timed Essay Writing and the Value of Checklists

What I love about writing is that you usually have the chance to form and tweak ideas through multiple revisions. Unlike real-time conversations, you can carefully choose your words and delete mistakes. You can also reorder ideas into a more logical sequence. Some of these opportunities for improvement are taken away from us when we’re…

Storytelling: Your Go-To Activity

Storytelling can be any teacher’s go-to activity because stories can be short or long and make use of any target language. If you have any concern about your own lack of creativity, don’t worry about running dry; tap into your students’ wonderful minds. All they need is a prompt, like an interesting photo from the…