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Developing writing skills in ESL/EFL classroom

Nowadays, most people do very little writing in day-to-day life. Usually, learners don’t consider writing as important as speaking or listening but there are several reasons to include writing in ESL/EFL classroom. Learner’s writing needs include: exam preparation and business needs (at advance level), and write a brief note to a friend, answer questions on forms, write diaries, letters, postcards (at basic level). Also, writing can be use to add variety to the activities done in the classroom reinforcing other language items being taught.

Here are five methods to develop writing skills in an ESL classroom.


In this method, first, teacher gives learners sentence exercises, then paragraphs in order to be copied and manipulated.

Free writing

Learners write freely for several minutes about any topic without worrying about grammar or spelling. This method is always difficult for learners because they don’t have a writing model for guidance.

Paragraph pattern

Learners have a paragraph as a model in order to learn the basic forms of English writing.

Communicative approach

This method puts the accent on the purpose of a piece of writing and the audience.

Process writing

This method emphasizes the process of composing, the way a learner writes. Process writing method should follow at least one pre-writing activity in which learners get familiar and then explore in depth the topic. The process writing method emphasizes the difference between writing and composing. Process writing is suitable for almost all levels and it uses all four skills. Learner, using this method, have more control on their writing. Discussing, reading, debating, brainstorming, list making are few of the pre-writing activities that can be done in order to give students the opportunity to explore the topic. I know many teachers who use methods 1-3 as pre-writing activities and the learners respond very well. Stages of Process writing are:

  1. Stage 1 - Pre-writing activities
    In pairs or small groups, learners explore the topic.
  2. Stage 2 - Writing the first draft
    Learners choose ideas from the pre-writing activity, organize them and then write a draft.
  3. Stage 3 – Revision
    Learners, read each other’s first draft. Guided questions can be used here for learners in order to focus on specifics such as clarity of meaning.
  4. Stage 4 - Writing the second draft
    Learners respond to stage 3 (comments and questions from stage 3) by writing the second draft.
  5. Stage 5 - Teacher’s correction
    Teacher corrects the second draft checking for grammar and spelling mistakes, and the way it is organized.
  6. Stage 6 - Writing the third draft
    Learners write the third draft.

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