Monday, March 30, 2009

Passionate Writing Assignments That Motivate Language Learners


Even Ernest Hemmingway Had to Learn to Write


We said in the first article of this series that there are no native writers of English or any other foreign language for that matter. Each of us, no matter what our first language is, must learn to write in a clear, logical manner that promotes easier reading. Even the legendary Ernest Hemmingway had to “learn” to write. And so it is with our foreign language learners. So here in the second article of this series, we’ll continue with some passionate writing assignments which will motivate our English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners to strut their stuff on paper or the keyboard and screen without undue concern for “correctness” that might inhibit the free flow of words and ideas.

4. Compiling of Specialized Lists

How about writing a list, and then of course, expounding in detail on its content? It can be a list of anything (almost) that motivates your learners. From the “Ten Best” discos, restaurants, boutiques, bars, movies, sports cars, game web sites, video games or videos, hot entertainers or whatever else, you can derive a writing assignment piece which allows you to really “strut your stuff”, so to speak. Doing so thereby produces a worthwhile piece of writing far and above the usual “dreck” that passes for essays and compositions these days. The language learners need only to choose their topic, draft their “list”, then detail the elements of each list item to the best of their knowledge and abilities. And finally “Voila!”, a paper you can read without your soul filling with tears – or worse.

5. Help and Advice or Answers to Peer Topic Questions

How about inviting your language learners to write an “answer” to a common or at least plausible situation question? You know, kind of a “Dear Abbey” type of question and detailed answer response to the question, situation or problem. Producers turn this kind of drabble into soap operas that make millions.
“You see, there’s this really cute gut in my English class who I like but he’s kinda seeing this other girl who I can’t stand – but my best friend told me that he said he was going to quit that girl, so I’m thinking, what should I do to…?” (Remember to break for a commercial right before all the “juicy” parts)

6. Relevant Link Lists

Are your language learners internet or video game addicts? Well then, it’s highly likely they can easily come up with a list of links or websites useful to them and their “passion”. So let them! Allow them to create a list, then detail each item on it. They could compare the links, contrast them or illustrate any variety of relationships between the links they’ve chosen to write about. How did they find them? How often do they use or visit? Why? Ask for and expect details – and the unexpected. As long as it’s not a list of best porno sites of whatever, you should get some good really interesting results for this writing assignment. Just remember to set some “ground rules” for the writing and topics. If your language learners are anything at all like mine are, you’ll be glad you did!

Passionate Writing Assignment Ideas That Are Coming Up

Okay, so we’ll wrap it up for this second article of the series now. In the next installment of “Motivate Your Language Learners with These Passionate Writing Assignment Ideas”, we continue once again with some Task-Based-Learning writing ideas to keep the words and ideas flowing from the pens, pencils or computer (or even typewriter) keyboards of your English as a Foreign Language learners. If your language learners like watching videos, playing video games or enjoy one or more of a score of other performing arts, then you’ll be “in the clover” when using our upcoming writing assignment ideas. See you then.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 130 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.


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