A while back, I shared a teaching method for helping English Language Learners (ELL’s) develop their language skills. Journal Writing for ESL Students tells how young students who are learning English can benefit from responding to prompts in writing. The practice compels the child to process their thoughts in English, which in turn helps to hone their skills in English, the target language.
When I use journaling in my ESL classroom, I usually pose a question to my students, which they must answer in English. They are given ample time to think about their response and write it. The only requirement is that they write a minimum number of sentences, dependent upon their English proficiency level. Since I have many of the same students year after year, I sometimes find it difficult to come up with new prompts.
Here are some suggestions for journal questions that are sure to get thoughtful responses. Of course, journal writing in this form is not limited to the ESL classroom and extension activities, such as group discussions, peer editing, expansion of writing into essays of all sorts, etc. can be employed to expand upon whatever skills the teacher would like to teach.
You are the owner of a brands new zoo, but it is a special zoo. There are only ten animals in it, but they can be any animal that is extinct or living, that is real or mythical. What ten animals would you put in your ideal zoo and why?
What is more important: being smart, being strong, or being good-looking? Why?
If you could live the life of any person in history, who would you choose? Why would you choose that person?
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you live? Why?
If you could have any special power, what special power would you have?
Do you believe in life on other planets?
What should you do when a new person comes to school?
If you could learn to speak another language, which language would you like to learn? Why?
What is your dream vacation?
What is your favorite/least favorite class and why?
What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate? What did it taste like?
Who inspires you? Why?
Is it better to have a lot of friends or just one or two good friends? Why?
What is one thing you like/dislike about yourself? Why?
What is the best/worst present you ever received?
What makes you happy/sad/angry/excited?
What’s the scariest dream you ever had?
Describe the perfect birthday. What would your day be like?
Stay tuned for more journal prompt ideas for your students…
Mr. Myers students