Written in Stone

How to Teach Writing - for teachers; Why You Need to Study Writing - for students; Personal experience - Valeria Shemyshevskaya

How to teach writing

When studying a language we have to focus on four skills: two receptive — listening and reading, and two productive — speaking and writing. The latter are usually harder to acquire and train, and although speaking is done in every single lesson, writing is often unduly neglected. The students are often reluctant to do any kind of writing for fear of making mistakes (and weren’t we all a little traumatized by receiving your paper spattered with blood-red ink) because it requires undivided attention, reflection, and creativity. At the same time writing structures the knowledge and new information, let students try out more complex structures in a safe environment, and use target vocabulary with enough time to come up with the right word. 

Let’s look into what reasons students may have for writing, how to overcome problems and how to encourage them to write more.

When will students need writing skills:

- International Exam preparation

All international exams contain at least one writing task, and if your students’ goal is to take one, then training this skill is unavoidable.

- Business English

Writing emails and reports, texting with foreign colleagues, preparing presentations are usually a part of a business routine. Chances are, your students are already writing a lot in their everyday lives.

- University preparation

Coursework, thesis, forums, reports - the need for writing here is more than evident.

- Real-life skills

The most elusive and yet commonplace reason for writing, don’t you want to comment on someone’s Instagram, chat with a foreign friend or inquire about check-in hours at a hotel? Writing is as indispensable as speaking, it may appear. 

Problems students may encounter

Lack of motivation

Discuss in what situations students may want to write. It is easier when they are preparing for exams. Adults may need to write business emails, update their CV and add a cover letter, teenagers may want to start a blog, write Instagram posts or stories in English, chat with foreign friends. Children have much less need for writing, but making the tasks interesting and rewarding them with stickers and badges will help.

Disconnection from the topic

Ask students to write on the topics they like or feel strongly about. They can even imagine themselves being the person who is writing to them!

Lack of ideas

Discuss the topic before giving the writing task. If you have a debate, a role-play, a class discussion, your students will be able to use the ideas mentioned in class in their writing. 

Also, encourage students to do research, or plan a task-based lesson with group work and researching a particular topic.

Insufficient Vocabulary

- Create a word bank in class that the students will use

- Encourage the use of dictionaries (teach students how to use them), collins and Macmillan dictionary, skell engine.

- teach students to paraphrase

Fear of making mistakes

If this is the first time you are doing the writing, tell the students you are not going to correct grammar or punctuation mistakes, only that they were able to explain their ideas and get the message across. Practise error correction in class, teach students to identify their mistakes.

Writer’s block (blank page stupor)

Help students plan out their writing in class, discuss the stages and paragraphs and what should be written there.

Give your students enough examples and templates.

Compose topic sentences together and ask them to expand on them at home.

Planning a writing lesson

What stages might a writing lesson have?


At this stage, you can identify the reasons for writing, when students write in their everyday life and how comfortable they are with writing.

Introduce the topic

Discuss the topic, elicit vocabulary and give new vocabulary.


Introduce key structures, sample questions, and answers.

Practice more

Students are ready to share their ideas. They can interview each other, do a role-play, or debate.


Students already have the vocabulary and structures they need, they have discussed the ideas. Ask students to write some sample paragraphs.


Peer correction, mistake correction, discuss what posed a difficulty, read paragraphs out loud, give homework.

Some Reasons to Study Writing?

  • When you study writing, you also gain practical experience because studies in writing include exercises that give you concrete practice at the craft.

  • Studying also helps you advance faster than learning strictly through hands-on experience.

  • Through the course of your studies, you’ll do a lot of reading, which, as Stephen King said, is essential to becoming a writer.

  • Writing requires a lot of different skills. You acquired the basic skills during your formative years. You’ll acquire more by reading and writing. When you study writing, you’ll expand your skills even more.

  • You will learn things you can’t (or don’t) learn any other way. For example, through study, you could come across some writing technique or literary device that you’ve never encountered through reading or writing, and it could be just the thing you need for some project you’re working on.

  • Learning new things is good for your cognitive health. The human brain needs a variety of stimulation, and acquiring new knowledge is essential for a good, strong mind. And of course, a good strong mind will ensure that your writing meets its full potential.

The article is taking from: https://www.writingforward.com


by Valeria Shemyshevskaya

My experience in teaching how to write correctly was awful at the beginning! I was devastated as I had no idea from what I should start. Originally, I asked my student to write a little article about himself, just usual information about his hobbies, his family or friends. To be honest, my students were a bit hesitant as far as they didn’t have any common and main idea about what they need to write about. My huge mistake was the loss of the particular topic of the articles. One more mistake caught me on the way of teaching English as a tutor – missing minor mistakes like punctuation or spelling. My main goal was to teach how to write just for knowing how to do this practical productive skill. However, having a skill of writing is not only about presenting the info, but also about creating the right arguments or ideas which can perfectly suit the specific topic. 

Taking into consideration all my experience I would say that 

  1. You need to identify the main topic of the letter/article/essay! 

  2. Make sure that your student understands the main idea of the topic and he or she can create enough cases to introduce.

  3. Check if your student has an adequate number of ideas or arguments!

  4. Just ask him to tell you 2-3 points. If he has some problems – try to control his ideas and direct him on the right thought.

  5. Don’t be cruel while checking!

  6. If you only start the path of writing point out only serious grammatical mistakes for example. If you have a bit of experience in writing for today – you can ask a student to find a mistake by himself which makes the checking time full of fun and excitement. 

    That’s all for now!
    Stay amazing ♥