Course Outline for Writing for ESL Student

Week 1

Lesson 1- An Overview of Writing

Knowing how to write well is one of the most important skills you can have, whether you're writing e-mails and letters at work or essays and research papers in school. In our first lesson, we'll explore the key differences between speaking and writing plus a few techniques for continually improving your writing throughout your life. But there's more! You'll also understand the whole process of writing, starting with the prewriting stage and going all the way through the editing stage. You'll see that you truly can master writing in English, and I'll show you how!

Lesson 2- The Creative Process

Do you ever struggle with not knowing what to write about? Many of us do. In today's lesson, you'll learn two effective methods for generating all the ideas you need: brainstorming and clustering. Then, once you have your ideas, you need to organize them. You'll do this in the outlining stage. An outline is like a detailed map of where you want to take readers in your writing. When your outline is finished, you're ready to begin writing. So, we'll also examine two crucial elements of any written piece: the topic sentence and paragraphs.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Effective Essays

In this lesson, you'll learn all about how to write effective essays. Why should you learn about this particular form of writing? The essay form will hone your writing and thinking skills, helping you develop and connect your ideas in a clear, logical, focused way. You can certainly apply these skills in any setting! A vital component of all essays is the thesis statement, so we'll spend a lot of time exploring this. When you finish with this lesson, you'll be able to write strong thesis statements that will set a sure course for your essays.

Lesson 4- Three Types of Essays

Now it's time to try out what you've learned so far about essays! In this lesson, you'll learn about three different essay types: descriptive, narrative, and explanatory. Each type has its own distinct purpose. Descriptive essays have vivid details that help your readers get involved in what you're writing. Narrative essays tell stories, starting at the beginning and moving logically to the end. Explanatory essays allow you to explain something you know about to your readers. I've provided lots of examples to show you how to write each kind of essay. You'll have fun with these!

Week 3

Lesson 5- Compare and Contrast Essays

You'll be able to apply the essay styles you learned about in the previous lesson to many other kinds of essays, including the one you'll learn about today: the compare and contrast essay. These essays let you examine, describe, and explain the similarities and differences between at least two topics. Additionally, you'll get acquainted with the importance of transitions and see what they can do for your writing. Rest assured—I'll provide you with lots of examples to walk you through how to write these very interesting pieces.

Lesson 6- Cause and Effect Essays

Have you ever struggled to explain to your child what the effects of a certain course of action would be? Or have you ever tried to explain to your boss how one thing caused something else to happen? You may not have realized it, but you were engaging in the logical thinking required to understand cause and effect relationships. In today's lesson, you'll sharpen your logical skills by learning how to write cause and effect essays. Sometimes you'll analyze how one cause produced several different effects. At other times, you'll analyze how one effect had several causes. Once again, I'll provide you with sample essays that will point the way in your own writing.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Argumentation Essays

Do you feel confident in presenting or defending your opinions? In this lesson, you'll acquire one of the most important skills in writing: how to argue your point of view convincingly. You'll learn how to develop a sound thesis, organize your supporting evidence, and explain your argument fairly and persuasively. Most important, you'll learn how to think critically, as well as recognize and avoid fallacies. This will be a most interesting lesson, and as always, I'll provide you with many examples to guide you along your way.

Lesson 8- Correcting Your Wording

In the past seven lessons, you've explored the prewriting, outlining, writing, and revising stages of the overall writing process. In the balance of this course, you'll strengthen your grammar skills so that you can perform the final stage—editing—with a keen eye and a sure hand. In this lesson, you'll study the art of wording. You'll learn how to rephrase wordy, redundant, pretentious, and vague language. You'll also understand what homophones and homonyms are and safely discern the right word to use. Finally, you'll learn to guard against slang and clichés so you can communicate well in any setting. Most of all, you'll see how fun and useful grammar can really be!

Week 5

Lesson 9- Take Care With Verbs

Native English speakers and writers often struggle with verbs, so this tricky area will be something ESL learners will want to be extra careful about. Verbs can be the most powerful words in your sentences, but if you don't use them correctly, they become powerfully confusing. Today, we'll examine verb tenses and inflections, subject-verb agreement issues, and active vs. passive voice. When you finish this lesson, you'll use verbs with confidence!

Lesson 10- Other Parts of Speech

Having spent the entire previous lesson looking at verbs, you now need to learn about the other parts of speech. So we'll review important features of nouns and pronouns, adjectives and adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. Next we'll look at the three types of clauses: noun, adjective, and adverb clauses. Finally, you'll gain another important technique for trimming wordiness: reducing clauses to simple phrases.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Common Writing Problems

The English language, though certainly not the most difficult, can present native and non-native speakers alike with challenging problems. In this lesson, you'll see how to avoid some common problems with subjects and objects so that your writing will always be clear. Next, you'll laugh as you learn about mistaken and dangling modifiers. These misplaced and unclear words and phrases often create as much unintentional humor as they do confusion! Finally, you'll discover how to tell possessives and contractions apart. This is sure to be an entertaining, as well as informative, lesson!

Lesson 12- Punctuation and Wrap-Up

In our last lesson together, we'll focus on punctuation, paying special attention to the helpful but often misused comma. In addition, you'll learn how to skillfully use semicolons, colons, and dashes, along with the concluding punctuation marks. Next, you'll see how you can apply what you've learned about academic writing to your workplace. Finally, we'll wrap everything up with a review of the key points of the course. You should be very proud of all that you've learned!

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What do others think?

‘Dear Dr. Bebawi, This course was an awakening for me.  Before I took this course, I had problems with writing and speaking in English.  Today, I have completed the course, I have discovered my weaknesses.  I will use all the information which I have learned from this course to improve my English skills.  I also realize that I have much work to do to move up to the next level.  I will not stop learning.  Thank you very much for your teaching, Dr. Bebawi.’

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