Category Archives: *ESL WRITING

These postings include writing activities, teaching techniques and strategies for evaluating writing skills.

• 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.) *

YouTube I discuss this posting in this video: Developing ESL Paraphrasing Skills Naturally: Start with Oral Paraphrasing Exercise

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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• Effective, Stress-Free Approach to Dealing with Plagiarism.

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This posting is an updated version of a post from November 2016: Writing Class: Dealing with Plagiarism (Don’t Take It Personally) 

In October 2016, Tiffany Martínez, a Latina student at Suffolk University in Boston, was accused of plagiarism by her sociology professor in front of the entire classHuffington Post plagiarism story   What caused him to be suspicious?  The word “hence.”  On her paper, he circled the place where she had written the word “hence” and wrote in the margin, “This is not your word.”

In my many years as an ESL instructor, I’ve witnessed instructors over-reacting in suspected plagiarism situations.  It seems as if those instructors were taking it personally, feeling like they were being disrespected.  Too often instructors seem to see it as a “gotcha” opportunity.

Plagiarism Learning Opportunities

Unless there is proof, the instructor shouldn’t accuse the student.  It would be more damaging to falsely accuse a students of plagiarizing who had worked hard than to “let” a students who actually plagiarized slip by.  If the student actually plagiarized, and the instructor has proof, it can be viewed as a learning opportunity.

Here are some options depending on the situation.

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