ESL Writing Exercises: Activities, Worksheets, and Ideas!
We have several free ESL writing lessons on this page, including sample essays, sentence patterns, writing assignments, and more! If you like these lessons, consider buying our ESL writing textbooks to get even more content just like this!
Beginner Writing Lessons
The four units below are all taken from our book Write Right: 9 Beginner ESL Writing Lessons , available for instant download!
Sample Essay: “My Hobby” – Introductory sample essay that students can reference later when writing their own essays
Sentence Pattern: Start/stop verb+ing – Practice adding “ing” to verbs after “start/stop/quit/begin”
Grammar: Past Tense – Simple introduction to past tense verbs
Error Correction Worksheet – Correct the errors in this sample “My Hobby” essay
Assignment: “My Hobby” – Use the grammar and sentence patterns from Unit 1 to write an essay titled “My Hobby”
Sample Essay: “A Funny Story” – Introductory sample essay that students can reference later when writing their own essays
Past Tense Error Correction Worksheet – Review of past tense; rewrite the paragraph and correct the past tense errors
Indention and Quotations – Teaches students to indent new paragraphs and use quotation marks correctly
Indentions and Quotations: Error Correction Worksheet – Identify and correct the mistakes in the paragraph
Writing Assignment: “A Funny Story” – Students use the grammar and sentence patterns from Unit 2 to write an essay titled “A Funny Story”
Sample Essay: “My Favorite Place” – Introductory sample essay that students can reference later when writing their own essays
Sentence Pattern: Although / Even though – Introduction to “although” and “even though”, with sample sentences and practice exercises
Sentence Pattern: not…at all – Introduction to the sentence pattern “(not)…at all”, with sample sentences and practice exercises
Error Correction Worksheet – Identify and correct the mistakes in the paragraph
Writing Assignment: “My Favorite Place” – Students use the grammar and sentence patterns from Unit 3 to write an essay titled “My Favorite Place”
NEW! UNIT 4: “Letter to a Relative”
Sample Essay: “Letter to a Relative” – Introductory sample letter that students can reference later when writing their own essays
Writing Lesson: The Elements of a Letter – Introduction to the elements of a letter (greeting, body, conclusion)
Writing Lesson: Conjunctions – Introduction to the conjunctions and/but/or/so, with an explanation of how to punctuate them correctly
Error Correction: Conjunctions – Identify and correct the mistakes in the letter
Writing Assignment: “Letter to a Relative” – Students use the grammar and sentence patterns from Unit 4 to write an letter to one of their relatives
Intermediate/Advanced Writing Lessons
The writing lessons and worksheets below are taken from our book Write Right: Transitions , available for instant download!
Writing a Formal Paragraph
Topic Sentences (Introduction) – Introduction to topic sentences and their function in a formal paragraph
Introduction to Similes and Metaphors – Using similes and metaphors to write interesting topic sentences
Similes and Metaphors Review – Practice describing people and things using similes and metaphors
Topic Sentences (Review) – Practice writing topic sentences
The Body of a Paragraph (Introduction) – Introduction to the body of a paragraph and the information that should be contained therein
The Body of a Paragraph (Review) – Practice thinking of information to use in the body of a paragraph
Concluding Sentences (Introduction) – Introduction to concluding sentences and their function in a paragraph
Concluding Sentences (Review) – Practice writing concluding sentences
Punctuation and Conjunctions
Sentence Fragments and Complete Sentences – Introduction to sentence fragments and a review exercise to practice identifying them
Run-on Sentences – Worksheet to practice correcting run-on sentences
Comma Splices and Conjunctions – Worksheet to practice using conjunctions correctly to fix comma splices
Commas and Conjunctions (“and”) – Explanation of how to correctly use commas with the conjunction “and”
Semi-colons – Introduction to this often baffling piece of punctuation, with a review exercise
Transitions and Connectors
Listing Things in Order – Practice listing items or events in order using words like “First”, “Next”, “After that”, “Finally”, etc.
In addition / Additionally / Moreover / Furthermore / Plus / …as well – Introduction to these commonly used transitions, with several sample sentences
In addition / Additionally / Moreover / Furthermore / Plus / …as well – Review worksheet to practice writing sentences with these transitions
However / Nevertheless / Still / Despite that / Nonetheless / Even so – Introduction to these commonly used transitions, with several sample sentences
However / Nevertheless / Still / Despite that / Nonetheless / Even so – Review worksheet to practice writing sentences with these transitions
Therefore / Consequently / As a result / Thus / For this Reason – Introduction to these commonly used transitions, with several sample sentences
Therefore / Consequently / As a result / Thus / For this Reason – Review worksheet to practice writing sentences with these transitions
Review of these Transitions and Connectors – Review worksheet to practice using all of the transition words above
More Transitions and Connectors
Although / Even though – Introduction to these commonly used transitions, with several sample sentences and review exercises
Though – Introduction to “though” and it’s various uses in a sentence
Despite / In spite of – Introduction to these commonly used transitions, with sample sentences
Despite / In spite of – Review worksheet to practice writing sentences with these words
Despite vs. Although – Explanation of how to use these similar transition words, with several sample sentences
Despite vs. Although – Review worksheet to practice using “despite” and “although” correctly
Because vs. Because of – Explanation of how to use these similar transition words correctly, with several sample sentences
Because vs. Although – Explanation of the difference between these two words, with several examples and a review exercise
Because of vs. Despite – Worksheet to practice using these transitions, which have nearly opposite meanings
Regardless of – Introduction to this commonly used transition, with several sample sentences
Regardless of / No matter – Review worksheet to practice using these transitions correctly, including an explanation of “embedded questions”.
Review of Transitions and Connectors
Transitions and Punctuation – Explanation of how to correctly punctuate transitions using commas, periods, and semi-colons. Also includes a review worksheet.
Transitions and Punctuation (2) – Students rewrite a short essay, adding punctuation around transition words as needed.
Review of Above Transitions and Connectors – Fill in the blanks with an appropriate transition word to complete the essay
Additional Review of Transitions and Connectors – Review of several transition words/phrases (For this reason / Despite the fact that / No matter / Due to / Consequently / As a result / In spite of / Regardless of / Owing to)
Additional FREE ESL/EFL Writing Worksheets, Activities, and Ideas:
Useful phrases and sentence patterns.
Instead of / Rather than – Handout explaining how to use these phrases, with sample sentences
Instead of / Rather than – Review – Worksheet to practice using “instead of” and “rather than” correctly
Instead – Worksheet reviewing different ways to use the word “instead” in a sentence
Would rather – Handout explaining how to use “would rather”, with sample sentences
Would rather – Review – Worksheet to practice using “would rather” correctly
Prefer – Worksheet to practice using “prefer” correctly
Regardless / Regardless of / No matter – Examples and practice sentences
Gradually / Eventually / Sooner or later / At some point / In the end / …end up… – Examples and practice sentences
More sentence patterns and phrases (in no particular order):
vary / varies from __ to __
that which / those who
Just because [A] doesn’t mean that [B]
If it weren’t for [A], then I never would have [B]
If I hadn’t [A] then I wouldn’t have [B]
I wish I had / I should have
(Currently) in the process of
Putting pen to paper doesn’t always have to be boring. Here are some activities and game-like things to make writing a bit more enjoyable.
Interactive Stories – Students collaborate to write each others’ stories.
The Lying Game – Guess which statements are true and which statements are lies!
Idiom Worksheets – Give advice using idioms. Less a “game” than an “assignment,” though the idioms tend to make things a little more interesting.
Explain the Idiom – Try to guess what the idioms mean, and use them in a dialogue.
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40 ESL Essay Writing Topics + Prompts
By VIPKid | April 20, 2018
Ready to start teaching English online?
Writing ESL essay writing is hard for most students and many will struggle at first before learning to write well.
However, writing skills are a crucial part of learning a new language .
In this piece, we’ll share some ESL writing prompts and ESL essay topics for five different kinds of essays. They should help your students develop their grammar and vocabulary skills while teaching them how to write coherently.
(While they work for all kinds of students, we’ve found these topics are especially handy for teaching English to kids .)
Writing practice should never be boring! When you’re done this article, check out the 10 most engaging writing activities here .
Descriptive ESL Writing Topics
- Describe your favorite place in as much detail as possible.
- Describe your favorite fictional character in as much detail as possible.
- Describe a famous person – e.g. a singer or athlete – that you admire. Focus on both their appearance and personality traits.
- Describe a family member or your best friend as detailed as possible. Discuss how they look and their personality.
- Choose a hobby or favorite activity and describe why and how you do it.
- Describe your most memorable holiday or vacation spot in as much detail as possible.
- Describe a photo or work of art in as much detail as possible.
- Pick your favorite food . Describe what you taste, smell, and sense while eating or drinking it.
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Explanatory ESL Essay Topics
- Give directions for getting from one point to another . For example, how to get from your home to your school. Describe the landmarks someone might see along the way.
- Explain how to cook your favorite meal . Provide a recipe and the step-by-step instructions.
- Explain your favorite computer game . What should a player do to win? What are some playing tips?
- Explain what you would do if your friends show up at your house unexpectedly . Say how you would entertain them.
- Explain how to make a bed . This task is seemingly simple but allows you to write about everyday habits you might never think through in detail.
- Explain how to make a paper airplane . Again, this task has many precise, technical details that that should be included in the essay.
- Explain how to brush your teeth . Try to make your essay about a seemingly mundane task more interesting.
- Explain how to pack a suitcase when going on a holiday. List out all the objects and pieces of clothing you would bring.
ESL Essays Topics to Practice Verb Tenses
- Talk about a time in the past when you had to make a difficult decision . Explain what you did and why.
- Describe your dream place to live . Why would you want to live there? What would you do?
- Write about three specific goals you want to achieve this year. Explain how you are going to achieve them.
- Write about something you regret having done . Point out what could have happened if you had not made that decision.
- Describe the world 100 years from now . Describe how people live, and new inventions and also the things that will not change.
- Talk about your earliest memory . What happened? How well do you remember the events?
- Write a short essay about how you prepared for class . Now “translate” that essay into future tense. In other words, the essay should say how you plan to prepare for class.
Argumentative ESL Essay Topics
- Are smartphones good or bad? Give some arguments to support your position.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of public schools and private schools ?
- What is your favorite book or movie ? Convince others, through your essay, to read or watch it.
- Is it the case that the more people that have cars, the better? What are some advantages and disadvantages of public transit ?
- Should money be spent on space exploration ? Give arguments to support your opinion.
- You’re the mayor of your town or city. Explain in an essay your recent decision to ban smoking . Then, from another person’s perspective, write a letter to the mayor protesting this new law.
- Reading books vs. watching movies . Which do you prefer and why?
- What are the pros and cons of e-readers compared to paper books?
Hypothetical ESL Essay Topics
- What would you do if you were late for an important class?
- What would you do if your car got a flat tire on the highway?
- If you had the power to change one thing about your past, what would it be?
- If you had the power to alter one major historical event , what would it be?
- If you could take any superhero’s powers , who would be your choice?
- How would you feel if, one day, you woke up 300 years in the past ?
- What would you do if you won the lottery ? Would your life change day-to-day?
Some General ESL Essay Tips
When checking ESL essays, pay attention to the following key points:
- Grammar. The ESL essay should be grammatically correct.
- Vocabulary. The more new vocabulary the essay contains, the more points it will get.
- Text flow. The text of the essay should flow logically and naturally. Pay attention to the use of connecting words and phrases. These include first of all , secondly , moreover , in addition , besides , finally , on the one hand, on the other hand , and as a result .
- Sticking to the topic. Some essay writers tend to deviate from ESL essay topics. However, a perfect ESL essay should stay as close to the point as possible.
A good essay typically has the following parts:
- An introduction . Here, the author gives some general information about the topic or lays out their argument. An effective intro entices readers to read further.
- The body . In an argumentative essay, the body could be 2 to 3 paragraphs. Each should introduce their arguments and support them with examples. In other types of essays, the content may vary. For example, the body may include descriptions, explanations, or personal stories.
- Conclusion . The author should logically conclude or summarize their thoughts and arguments.
How Do You Teach Writing?
It doesn’t matter if you teach English online or if you’re a classroom teacher, we want to know about your teaching styles. Do you use writing prompts, games and activities, or something else entirely?
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Are you an intermediate (CEFR level B1) learner of English? Practise and improve your writing skills with these texts and exercises.
Choose a lesson
Look at the blog and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
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Look at the job adverts and the CV and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
A for and against essay
Look at the essay and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
A letter to a friend
Look at the exam question and letter and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
A short story
Look at the short story and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
A website review
Look at the website review and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
An email to a new friend
Look at the email and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
An invitation to a party
Look at the exam question and invitation and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
An opinion essay
Checking out websites
Look at the article for a school magazine and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
Describing a bar chart
Look at the bar chart, exam question and sample answer and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
Someone I admire
Look at the description and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
Writing about a pie chart
Look at the pie chart, exam question and sample answer and do the exercises to improve your writing skills.
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