7 Creative ESL Writing Exercises for your Classroom

March 4, 2016
7 Creative ESL Writing Exercises for your Classroom

Do your students groan or complain when it is time for in-class writing? Many adult learners are reluctant to complete ESL writing exercises in class because let’s face it – these tasks can be boring. Writing prompts such as write about what you did on the weekend, or write about your favourite movie can become tiresome very quickly.


ESL teachers are busy people so resorting to pdf downloads or pre-made worksheets to save time is common but can be beneficial for beginner, intermediate and advanced students.


In fact, Brown (2014) discusses the importance of both display writing (writing for classroom purposes) and real or authentic writing. Time-saving pdf downloads and worksheets are useful ESL writing exercises because this type of display writing contributes to improvements in authentic writing.


The key as ESL teachers is to engage adult students by including fun and authentic writing tasks. It is important to think about the reasons why your adult students would need to write outside of the ESL classroom.


For example, they may need to write for work purposes (resumes and cover letters, set up a LinkedIn profile or request vacation time), personal reasons (write a note to their child’s teacher, or a superintendent) or for pleasure (send a birthday card or write a letter to the editor).


Here are some other fun and authentic ESL writing exercises and tasks to consider:


1. Application forms

Have students complete an application form for a library card. Include a visit to your local library.


2. Thank you notes

Buy inexpensive thank you notes. Have students handwrite messages in the cards and then personally deliver them to someone special.


3. Recipes

Have each student write out a favourite recipe, and then compile them into a recipe book to share with the class or school.


4. Trip reviews

Write a review for a restaurant or place they have visited. Post the reviews on the Trip Advisor website.


5. Movie reviews

Write a review for a movie and send it to a local newspaper.


6. Social media

Create social media accounts such as Twitter and learn to tweet. Connect with people around the world to engage in some interesting knowledge exchange.


7. Blogs

Visit The Good Guide which is a unique website where students can write blogs, post geographical and cultural information, or ask and answer questions about places around the world.


Finally, don’t forget to ask your beginner, intermediate or advanced adult students why, when and what they need to write outside of the ESL classroom. You might be surprised at the real life examples they provide which can then be used as a great source for fun and authentic writing exercises.


See more ideas on EFL Sensei with icebreakers, warmers and fillers, and essay writing worksheets to get your students writing.



Brown, D.H., Lee H. (2014). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy (4th Edition). NY: Pearson

Patrice Palmer

Patrice Palmer

Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A. TESL has 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Curriculum Writer in Canada and Hong Kong. Patrice has taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as English for Specific Purposes (ESP), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), Business English, and language programs for new immigrants.