Benito Vacio

Writing activities

Some fun-filled, challenging activities to get your students writing.

A former friend of mine in a refugee camp in the Philippines some years ago, now an accomplished author of several books in America, requested me to send him some writing activities for intermediate and advanced ESL students, which he wanted to include in a workbook he was writing.

At first I was hesitant to send what he asked for because I was doing writing activities only for Grade 4 to 6. On the other hand, I thought that the levels I taught didn't matter as long as I shared my ideas. So I sent them anyway.

Incidentally, because of encouraging praises from people I met in some formal and informal gatherings in Bangkok, as well as generous comments from them about my blogs, I would like to share also my writing activities to these people.

Of course, some activities may not be applicable to their students, but with their creativity, they can modify them to suit their students' level and need. Here are the writing activities:

1. Getting to Know You - Print a chart on A4 paper about your students' particulars like favorite color, food, drink, fruit, TV program, sport, book, music, city, country, strength, weakness, skill, pet peeve, goal, preference, etc. Distribute to your students and let them accomplish this. When done, students work in pairs asking each other's particulars. Students group their answers as similar or different from that of the partner. The students will exchange papers and write about their partner using the details given.

2. Nature Tripping - Students have a trip outside the classroom; fill up a worksheet requiring data pertaining to land forms, water forms, animals, plants, flowers, buildings, people, events, natural disaster, seasons, etc. After the activity students pair with someone and share their answers. They then individually create an interesting story about the words they wrote adding as many nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions.

3. Vote for Me - After the students have chosen what they like to be someday - mayor, governor, congressman, senator, vice president or president they will give their imaginary answers to the following questions. What is your motive for running as _____. What is/are your qualifications? What are your experiences? What are your related achievements?

What are your memberships in organizations? What is your political agenda? Are you winning in the elections? Why? After answering all those questions, the students will write their speech. When everybody is ready, every student works with a partner to check the speech. This is returned to the owner. The owner rewrites the speech to be shared to the class.

4. Dear You - The teacher presents a situation where in a letter sender is confronted with a problem whether to pursue a career, study, or get married. She works as a secretary that gives her a lot of fulfillment. Incidentally a scholarship abroad is offered to her. She is indecisive whether to accept the scholarship get married or give up her job for her boyfriend who proposes to marry her. She is torn among these 3 options and wants convincing reasons on what to choose. In not less than 100 words what will you advise to this confused lady?

5. Help - John is a member of a religious group that does an outreach program for handicapped children ages 4-12. They do this every week but it seems that his group needs some financial help in order to fulfill its mission. They need money for transportation, materials, and things to give away to these children occasionally. He thought of seeking help from generous people in the community. If you were John, how will you compose a letter of solicititation?

6. Minutes of the Meeting - You were elected secretary by your club. You had a meeting on the third day of school. Write the minutes of the meeting using these facts: On-the- Spot Painting Contest, March 25, 2015, 3:30 p.m.; all members were present, opening prayer, checking of the attendance, welcome speech of the president, reading of the rules of the contest, reading the criteria for judging, amount of prizes for the winners, creation of committees, adjournment at 5:00 pm. etc.

7. Talk About the Picture - Having been presented a composite picture of a certain topic, let students write 20 words associated with it. Students classify the words good for introduction, body, and conclusion. They write about the picture using the words listed adding adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.

8. Selfie - Using the internet, students research on this most popular word nowadays. They search for its meaning, purpose, history, benefits, disadvantages, well-known personalities doing it, etc. Then they write a blog about it and put it on line.

9. Travelogue - After reviewing the different cities of the world, engage the students in discussing orally the city/cities they like to visit or have visited. They will include the purpose of their tour, companions, preparations, cost, length, places visited/to visit, interesting events, general impression, desire, souvenirs, people, food, culture, etc. Then students write their travelogue.

10. Starting Up - How will you advise someone to join face book. Write the detailed procedure in logging in. Include the problems one may encounter in doing the work. Define every term used in logging in.

11. My Ultimate Dream - With the help of incomplete words, let your students fill this up which they can use later on in one of their titles for this writing activity. Successful S__ __ __ __ ___, an award-winning __ __ __ __ s ___, well-known  a __ __ __ e__ ___, a great __ __n __ __ __, a renowned _r__ __ __ ___, an accomplished __ __s__ __ __ __ __ __ __,

12. An Imaginary Experience - To tap the wild imagination of students, they will be tasked to write an imaginary experience may it be fantasy, adventure, romance, science fiction, etc. involving 3 or more characters. The students make their own title as well.

Have you picked one writing activity for your students? Could you share with me later how your students responded to it? Good luck.



Great activity ideas. I've even used a few of these in the past with older students, and they generally enjoyed the activities.

By Sam, Chatuchak, Bangkok (15th January 2015)

dessertation should be dissertation.

By Benito Vacio, Nonthaburi (14th January 2015)

Thanks, Joy, one benefit I get from writing my blogs is that one author, the one I referred to in this article invited me to co-athor with him to write textbooks for Levels 1, 2, and 3. We might start as soon as he finishes his doctoral dessertaion . Wish me luck.

By Benito Vacio, Nonthaburi (13th January 2015)

Only a seasoned teacher like you could come up with those ideas. You are truly a gift to the education sector. If only we could suspend your retirement...there are a lot more students (and teachers as well) who would benefit from your practical ideas. There may be some more innovative ideas from new teachers, but yours will surely stay beneficial. I suggest that you put up your own website later on for future reference of everybody.

Keep on writing and teaching!

By JOY, Philippines (13th January 2015)

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