Learning how to speak and read is interconnected with learning how to write. Writing is a skill that can be honed through writing prompts. For many English Language Learners (ELLs), they may need additional practice to put their thoughts into writing. That is why it is encouraged for ELL students to make the connection between speaking, reading, and writing as early as possible. Once that connection is made, they will see that writing is a fun and efficient way to express themselves. Here are 5 research-based writing prompts for elementary ELLs that you can start using in your classroom today.
1) Make A Word Bank
Word banks are essential for teaching writing skills to elementary ELLs. Depending on the skill level of your ELL students, you can allow them to make their own word bank or you can create one together as a class. Pick a certain topic, then brainstorm with your class. Leave the words up on the chalkboard or whiteboard during the writing session, that way your ELL students will have access to topic-appropriate words to facilitate the writing process. Additionally, you can make a permanent word bank of helpful words that can be used during all writing sessions and throughout the day.
2) Conduct Research
Research plays a huge role in writing that is why it is an important writing skill to teach elementary ELLs. Research skills include searching the Internet, reading books, conducting an interview, etc. It is important that ELL students can decipher between legitimate sources and poor quality content. This writing prompt should include teaching children how to take notes and figuring out what kind of information is important to write down and include in their writing.
3) Generate Topic Sentences
Learning how to write topic sentences is another important writing skill to teach elementary ELL students. Topic sentences are part of the pre-writing stage. Instruct your ELL students to write a clear and concise topic sentence that states the idea or topic they want to convey to the reader. Be sure to tell your students that the topic sentence is typically the opening sentence of their paragraph for most writing styles. Then you can instruct them to organize the rest of the information below that sentence. This writing prompt will help ELL student learn how to write and organize paragraphs as well.
Brainstorming is another writing prompt that will help ELL students hone their writing skills. Have your students create a bubble map or bullet points that allows them to see the relationship between concepts and ideas. The information jotted down during brainstorming sessions will help them see the flow in their ideas and make writing easier.
5) Use Templates
Using templates to write is an excellent writing prompt that will teach ELL students the correct format for writing. At first, start with fill in the blank templates that feature topic sentences and thesis statements. These templates should also have transitions built in. As your students gain more skills you can provide less structured templates. Templates help students organize information, and help with grammar.
If you are interested in more tips and resources for working with ELLs, visit the Latino Family Literacy Project. The Project offers webinars and seminars that will give you ideas to bring into the classroom to better prepare your ELL students for their current schooling and future endeavors.