Today I have a guest post from Ethan Miller, who’s an online ESL teacher and blogger over at Essay Writing Tips and Help. It’s geared towards more advanced students who really want to improve their writing. I hope you enjoy it.
Tips and Tricks to Spark an Interest in Writing Among Students
For centuries, writing has played an integral part in shaping the reader’s opinions and in turn shaping the world. Writing has not only given us great wordsmiths like Shakespeare, Mark Twain, etc., but it has also gifted us an enormous amount of thought provoking literature that has enlightened and inspired millions of people.
But with the advancement of technology and the advent of cool gadgets like smartphones, iPads, tablets, etc., writing as an art form is losing its shine. Today’s generation of children are well versed in texting lingos and slangs, but find it tough to string along words to express their thoughts and feelings.
Why is writing important?
Before we discuss ways to cultivate writing skills among students, it is necessary to understand why writing is important for a child’s intellectual growth. Writing gives wings to one’s imagination. It helps them convey their thoughts through the magic of words. It generates a feeling of empathy among readers as they understand the writer’s views by standing in his/her shoes.
Here’s how an ESL teacher can make writing interesting for students:
1. Read stories and encourage storytelling: There is a storyteller in each one of us. So, the best way to cultivate winning writing habits in students is by unleashing the hidden storyteller in them. Reading stories is probably the easiest way to summon the dormant storyteller in us. Reading lets you paint the world with your imagination and develops the urge in readers to be storytellers themselves. By introducing your students to a variety of books and helping them discover the pleasure of reading, you are indirectly encouraging them to tell their stories and voice their feelings through the power of written words.
2.Games and Writing: Writing games can play a vital role in motivating students to write. Games like crossword puzzles and Scrabble are not just fun to play but they also help students in learning new words and expanding their vocabulary. Why not utilize these games to instill the writing habit among students? Whenever students come across a new word while playing Scrabble or solving crosswords, ask them to write it down. Later on, urge the students to look up the meanings for these words and use them in sentences. When students indulge in this exercise, it not only cements the words in their vocabulary but also improves their writing.
3.Journal entries: One of the biggest fears that drive students away from writing is the fear of being judged. With people waiting to be offended at the drop of a hat and grammar nazis prowling all over social media, it is tough to express your thoughts in writing without being unfairly scrutinized. To avoid judgey eyes and still explore your writing prowess, it is essential to write journal entries. A journal provides you a private space to pour your heart out. It gives you an outlet to ramble on and even have fun with your writing without being crucified for having a different opinion or making grammatical mistakes. Daily journal entries can not only improve one’s writing but also makes one fall in love with the magic of writing.
4.Encourage Social Media Writing: Social media was meant to be a place for people to share their thoughts with the world. But instead of giving way to effective writing, social media platforms are being populated by poorly written posts and bullying trolls. That doesn’t mean that one should avoid social media writing altogether. If your student has strong feelings on a subject and can back their opinion with logic, then as an ESL teacher, you should encourage him or her to voice out their views on social media through the power of writing. While Facebook is a great platform for expressing your opinions in depth, Twitter challenges the students to write effectively within 140 characters without diluting the meaning of the tweet. Apart from Facebook and Twitter, teachers should also give a nudge to their students to explore the world of blogging. A blogging platform like WordPress is a wonderful place to write about all the things that you care for and ensure that your voice is heard on the internet.
5.Email Writing/Letter Writing: Letter writing is a dying art form. Before telephones, internet, and smartphones made communication ridiculously easy, letter writing played a major role in conveying information to people across the globe. But, from a writing perspective, letter writing encouraged people to pour their heart out on paper, thus turning every man or woman into a writer. As an ESL teacher, you can split your class into groups of two and ask every student to write weekly letters to the other person in their group during summer vacations and Christmas holidays. If your students are not too excited about letter writing, you could suggest email writing. It will not only help them learn email etiquette but will also help them discover their writing flair.
6.Encourage book & movie review writing: A fun way to make writing interesting to students is by encouraging them to write a book or a movie review. Books and movies invoke a lot of strong emotions from their readers and viewers respectively. Something as simple as why you liked or disliked a book/movie can make the writing process a fun and interesting affair. It doesn’t always have to be a book or movie review as even music or current affairs can develop strong opinions among students. This exercise gives students a push to write by making them feel deeply about something and by giving them an outlet to voice their feelings. After all, the first step towards writing is having something to say.
7.DIY Karaoke: Another interesting approach to cultivate the writing habit is through music and lyrics. Every week, play a song in your classroom. Ask your students to concentrate on the lyrics and jot them down. Make sure that you play the song at least two-three times so that students can have a decent chance to grasp the lyrics. Now, randomly choose students and ask them to sing the song with the lyrics that they have noted down. More often than not, the lyrics written by students will not match the actual one, and this will lead to a super fun session filled with music and laughter. But more importantly, it will make students attentive listeners and observant writers. This exercise might even encourage students to create a lyric book of their own where they can write the lyrics of their favorite songs.
To sum up, I quote Voltaire – ‘Writing is the painting of the voice’. Let your students paint their feelings, opinions, and stories with the web of words by introducing them to the magic of writing. If you have any other ways to cultivate writing habits among students, let me know in the comments below.
Ethan Miller is an online ESL tutor. Apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write and holds a degree in creative writing. When he is not teaching or working on his book, Miller loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. You can follow Miller on Twitter and check out his blog.