Are you looking for tips on how to help ESL students develop ideas and content for effective writing? In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the best strategies to support and guide your English-language learners in developing their writing skills.
From helping them learn proper sentence structure and working out essay topics to providing individualized feedback, these techniques will help give your students the confidence they need to share their ideas in clear and organized written pieces. So if you’re ready to get started, keep reading!
Strategies to Help ESL Students Generate Ideas for Writing
There are several strategies teachers can use to help ESL students generate ideas.
Let Students Brainstorm as a Group
Brainstorming creates its kind of synergy; it’s much easier to come up with ideas when everyone is contributing than doing it alone.
Create Lists of Topic Ideas to Post as Anchor Charts
Use the ideas from the group brainstorming to create lists such as topics for personal narratives, people to write about, favorite places, etc.
Create an Anchor Chart of Genres for Writing
Encourage the group to brainstorm what writers write; this may include personal narratives, letters, memory books, non-fiction books, scientific reports, how-to instructions, poems, plays, etc.
Invite Students to Share with a Friend
Ask the students to turn to a friend about what they plan to write about. This is particularly effective after a focused brainstorming session.
Provide Opportunities for Students to Share after Writing
Students benefit from having an audience and from being an audience. Sharing writing in a read-aloud format gives other students ideas to build from for their own writing experiences.
Strategies to Help ESL Students Develop Content for Writing
Sometimes the issue is not what to write about, but rather how to expand a particular topic into an interesting story or non-fiction report. The following are strategies that teachers can use to help English language learners develop and expand content for writing.
Encourage Students of All Ages to Draw Their Ideas
Drawing allows English language learners to express ideas and details that they may not yet have enough English to express through writing. Following up on the drawing with the conversation, either peer-to-peer or with the teacher, will help the student expand language and may help with expanding the story through detail.
Create Individual Target Word Lists
Often students are eager to share their stories verbally; it is the writing process they find daunting. An effective scaffolding strategy is for the teacher to write keywords from the student’s conversation on a 3 by 5-inch card or on a planning page. That word list can then serve as a road map for the student’s story or report. With practice, even very young students can become independent at using the word list to complete the story independently.
Introduce Graphic Organizers
Teachers can demonstrate how to use a variety of graphic organizers for developing subtopics and detail in their writing. Some graphic organizers include story webs, a five senses chart, and a timeline.
Encourage Students to Write on One Topic using a Variety of Genres
Students can learn to expand and deepen their topic choice by experimenting with several different genres all on the same topic. For example, if a student chooses to write about African contributions to civilization, he or she can make a list of obstacles to be overcome in Africa, write a poem about how it feels to master a certain sphere, write directions for investigation, or write a mini-play about the famous people.
Help ESL Students
English language learners need strategies for drawing on their rich backgrounds to generate ideas for writing. They will almost certainly need support and scaffolding to utilize the 6 Traits model and to communicate their ideas in English with detailed content. With specific strategies and with support and scaffolding, ESL students can be successful in writing in English.
ESL students can generate ideas for writing through group brainstorming and creating anchor charts of topics and genres.
Inviting students to share with a friend and providing opportunities for them to share after writing help build confidence.
To develop content for writing, teachers can encourage drawing, create individual target word lists, introduce graphic organizers, and suggest writing about one topic using different genres.