ESL Essay Writing: 7 Tips for Success

ESL essay writing is crucial for students who must cope with organizing their thoughts and building their arguments using the second language.

5 Easy Steps to Teach Your ESL Students How to Write Essays

1. Get back to the basics

Before teaching your ESL pupils essay writing, ensure that you have taught the essentials of sentence structure.

Start by teaching them simple sentences, compound sentences, and finally, complex sentences.

Once they have mastered sentence building, you can teach them prepositions, conjunctions, and adverbs.

Next, have your students focus on linking and sequencing their language. For instance, you can request that they develop a method or guide and then utilize language linking to connect the dots.

One suggestion is to have them utilize bullet points or numbering in a sequence of steps and connect them using time connectives.

2. Select a subject

When your ESL students are ready to begin writing essays, choose a topic that will pique their interest. This is an efficient method for keeping students interested throughout the essay-writing process.

If they have trouble coming up with a topic, feel free to offer alternatives and then choose one that will spark their creativity. If you believe their chosen topic is too broad, assist them in narrowing their focus.

Once a student has selected a topic, it is time to help them formulate a position on it. Instruct them to transform the issue into an argument they can explain and defend in their essay. To promote brainstorming, have your pupils generate ideas and outline them roughly.

3. Introductory paragraph

Next, instruct your ESL students on creating a proper, captivating introduction. Show them how to captivate and engage their readers, and provide examples or suggestions. 

Depending on the topic, some fantastic essay writing prompts include:

  • A pertinent statement or information from one of their sources.
  • An intriguing fact or piece of trivia.
  • A proverb or even a joke

Explain how this essay section should enlighten and prepare readers to defend their position or opinion. Writing an essay requires multiple procedures and a variety of skills. If your pupils continue to struggle with more complicated forms of writing, advise them to utilize resources that will improve their writing. There are numerous internet tools and services available for their usage. 

4. Developing the main argument

Since pupils are new to writing essays in their second language, they should adhere to the standard three-paragraph pattern.

Teach them how these body paragraphs explain and support one of their claims.

Students should begin each paragraph with a sentence explaining the point followed by evidence from their study that makes up the rest.

To increase clarity and consistency, urge them to simplify and condense their explanations of complex concepts.

Teach the rule of three to your students. This is the belief that readers would be more engaged and retain information better if repeated three times. The phrases “blood, sweat, and tears” and “stop, look, and listen” are examples.

5. Creating the conclusion

Students should conclude their essays with a conclusion that summarizes the primary points made in the essay’s body.

This is their last opportunity to present their case, so make sure they understand they should not add new points in the conclusion.

However, they may still include a quote or a forward-looking notion.

Quotes and facts are essential to an essay since they provide credibility and authority in the argument, and they also make a great conclusion.

ESL essay writing: 7 tips for success

1. Center the essay on a central question

Encourage your students to organize their writing around the essay’s key question. This fundamental question should be the driving force for the entire composition.

If a word or phrase does not clarify a problem or its potential solutions, it must be reworded, rephrased, or eliminated.

A lean writing style is cruel. Prewriting, writing, and revising phases help build the necessary faculties necessary for determining what to retain and what to discard.

2. The 5-paragraph essay format

Providing students with a clear format for essay writing can do much to boost their confidence. The 5-paragraph essay, or “hamburger” essay, gives emerging ESL writers a clear format.

This arrangement often includes five paragraphs for the entire essay. Each paragraph has a distinct role and combines to make a unified whole.

First paragraph is the introduction. It provides the thesis statement and orients the reader to the essay’s objective. The 2nd to 4th paragraphs are referred to as are the body paragraphs. These make distinct arguments that are supported by various types of evidence.

The fifth paragraph is the conclusion. This section provides a summary of the arguments and a conclusion to the thesis. This simple structure can serve as fantastic training wheels for your students, even though they do not need to adhere to it rigidly forever.

3. Use the PEE method

Using the 5-paragraph framework mentioned in the previous section makes planning simple. P.E.E is an absurd acronym that represents the point, explanation, and evidence.

Body paragraphs should present arguments supporting the main thesis, followed by an explanation of the main point and supporting evidence.

Experts have pioneered mental mapping techniques that work in the planning phase and provide handy reference points to keep the essay focused. Having a visual reference will help ensure that your student-writers see each component of the whole as well as the elusive “larger picture”.

4. Research

As important as planning is, so too is research. Frequently, thoughts or associations do not emerge until the writing process has begun.

Since essay writing is a creative process, students can generate and incorporate more ideas as they work. The key is to always have evidence to support these claims. Students who have completed their assigned assignments will be far more confident and articulate when presenting their arguments.

Before beginning the daunting chore of writing an essay, students should explore and comprehend their topic area. Even with careful planning and research, it is common to write oneself into a linguistic dead end.

Once the plan is completed and the student begins writing the essay, it may or may not be smooth sailing. Often, especially with our higher-level pupils, unanticipated currents can steer the student-writer astray.

Sometimes it helps to simply abandon the sentence. Often, it is best to go back to the drawing board and rewrite it.

When presenting elementary concepts and arguments, students can be inventive with their phrase constructions. Help them learn to use shorter phrases to break down their arguments into smaller, more digestible portions when conveying more complicated ideas.

5. Repetition

Repetition is a particularly beneficial tactic in essay writing. Argument relies greatly on rhythm, much as poetry does. This sensation of rhythm can be achieved via repetition. Oral language is the ancestor of written language. Consider how great orators and demagogues utilized repetition. Speechwriters are aware of the effectiveness of repetition.

To Wrap Up

Writing an essay in English can be difficult for ESL students. Mistakes are bound to arise in any student’s essay because thinking and writing are two different skills.

Notwithstanding, ESL students can gain mastery of essay writing in no time with the techniques mentioned in this article.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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