• In-Class Essays: More Important Than Ever

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(This posting includes a PowerPoint which you are welcome to use with your students.) *

As I was reading Elio’s two-page essay, I was amazed at how good it was. In fact, it seemed too good, way better than anything he had ever written.  Although I was sure someone else had written it or had given him extensive help with it, or it had been downloaded from the internet, I couldn’t prove it. When I mentioned to him that it was so different from his previous papers, he just smiled and said that he had worked very hard on it over the past two weeks.

It would be a travesty to pass a student like Elio based on his out-of-class essays (OCEs). From reading most of his assignments, I was confident that he did not yet have the skills to be successful in academic classes, especially English Comp. Also, our higher-level ESL courses would lose all credibility in the eyes of the campus if unprepared ELL students were being allowed to take their courses.

According to research, because of the ease with which all students (not only ELLs) are able to download essays and plagiarize, more and more academic instructors are basing a large percent of their students’ grades on their performance on in-class papers written under a time limit. Thus, instructors have recommended that we include in-class essays (ICEs) in our ESL courses.

Reasonable expectations for in-class essays.

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• The Writing Workshop: Countless Benefits for ESL Students and Teachers

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This posting includes sample lessons of a Writing Workshop that give students a lot of autonomy.*

This posting is an update of my February 1, 2019 post:  Most Important Motivator of Students: How You Can Do It

Since posting this back in 2019, I’ve heard from teachers who decided to try out a Writing Workshop with their ESL Writing classes even though they were skeptical at first. Their hesitation seemed to be doubtful that their students would actually be productive without more direct teacher control. However, they reported that their initial skepticism was quickly dispelled after seeing the same great benefits that I had described in the post below. Almost all of them stated that they couldn’t imagine teaching a Writing class in any other way in the future.

Here is that posting.

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• Developing Paraphrasing Skills: Oral Paraphrasing Before Written.

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(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.) *

A good paraphrase can demonstrate to the teacher that the student truly understood the source. And if it is clearly written in the student’s normal style and level of vocabulary, the teachers can feel reassured that the writer wasn’t plagiarizing.

Paraphrasing may be a new concept for many of our ESL student. However, we can help them understand how to do it in a way that will let them “experience” what a good paraphrase is through a very natural process.

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• A Simple Technique for Writing Focused, Short Answers and Paragraphs on Tests

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(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.) *

Advice from academic instructors: Give your ESL / ELL / International students practice writing short paragraph answers to test questions.

Academic instructors report that these types of questions tend to cause problems for our students:

  1. They are unable to finish within the time limit.
  2.  They don’t actually answer the questions.

Here is a simple technique that students can use which can actually resolve those two issues.

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