How to Write an Essay for ESL Students


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This month, my academy will hold an essay competition for our students. We will provide a variety of topics for our students to choose from. Each class, grades one to five, will write an essay or paragraph according to their abilities and appropriate level (with the teacher’s instruction). So, that brings to mind the question…

How do you write an essay?

Before we start writing, we need to look at the writing process.


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It all begins with planning what you will say and how you will say it.It’s best to use some graphic organizers to plot out your thoughts.

This site has tons of free graphic organizers!

Once you have some notes taken (main ideas and supporting details), make an outline and form those into sentences.


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Visit here and here for some free templates.

Now it’s time for your first draft. This may seem daunting, but it’s not that bad. A first draft is typically three to five paragraphs long, and contains three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Think of an essay like a hamburger: your “bun” consists of the introduction and conclusion, and the “meat and fillings” are the main points and supporting details.


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The picture above illustrates just one paragraph, but an essay is typically four to five paragraphs long. So, take that burger and multiply it by four or five.

Once you have a draft written, edit any spelling, grammar, or other errors you have. It’s best to have a peer or a teacher proofread your essay as they may be able to spot mistakes you can’t. After you finish correcting mistakes, go through your essay and see what sentences you can remove, if there is more you can add, or any sentences reword for better flow.

This process takes a couple of drafts before it is completed, but once it’s all finished, you have a perfect (or near-perfect) essay! You should be proud of it!

You can visit here and here for more information.

What makes a good essay?


Writing a good essay takes practice. Writing quality content, getting the structure right, allowing your ideas to flow easily from one to the next, and summarizing it all up nicely is not an easy task.

There are five characteristics of a good essay.

They are…

  1. Format and presentation – you should use a font that is easy to read, as well as a size that is not too big or too small. I recommend typing up your essay on a computer, using Arial typeface and 12pt size.
  2. Content – It’s best to find a topic you are knowledgeable about, and also find resources for. You should be able to support your topic with facts and credible sources. Academic journals can be found online or in a library. Also, make sure there are no grammar or spelling errors. You should use the appropriate words, too. Powerful adjectives and verbs as well as using complex or compound sentences really punch up your essay.
  3. Organization – Make sure your ideas flow logically and use smooth transitions. A disorganized essay is unreadable and will confuse your readers. Making an outline helps focus your essay and organize your paragraphs. If you come down with “writer’s block”, looking at your outline can help you break through it.
  4. Depth – A great essay not only has quality content consisting of well-supported reasons and examples. It also brings out something new for the reader. Whether it’s an informative essay, an opinion, or an abstract essay, make it thought-provoking and engaging for the reader.
  5. Conclusion – You should end your essay with a solid conclusion. It should summarize your main points and restate the topic plainly. You may also end with a final thought on the topic or pose an idea for the reader to take away from it.

Go here, here, or here, for more help or information.

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Filed under EFL, ELL, English, ESL, Essay, Korea, Teaching, Writing

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