Writing Prompts is a simple idea to help your TEFL students develop their writing skills and stimulate ideas and discussions.
It can work with almost any age or level of class and is very flexible.
Pictures as Prompts
There are many variations of the method, but a simple one is to use pictures as prompts.
First collect together enough interesting photographs for the class – 1 per student (with a few extras just in case). The photographs should have a common theme: people, landscapes, buildings and so on. Ideally you can print the pictures out on an A4 sized sheet (but otherwise you could just staple the picture onto a blank A4 sheet of paper).
Next, give each student a different picture and ask them simply to write on the paper a single short sentence about the picture. For example, with the picture above the student might write:
There is a building on fire.
Next, get the students to pass the picture to the person next to them who must write another sentence about the picture:
It is night time.
Of course if the class are more advanced then encourage suitable speculation:
Perhaps the fire was started deliberately.
And then the pictures get passed around the class so that each picture will end up with one sentence from each student on it.
Eventually the pictures will end up where they began but with a whole bunch of sentences on the back. Some may be good, some bad, some grammatically brilliant, others not so. But this doesn’t matter.
What happens next is that each student will now need to write the story of the picture based on their own imaginations and what the other students have written about it.
Variations on a Theme
As mentioned above, there are plenty of variations here. You could, for example, give each student a piece of paper on which is the first line of a potentially amazing story:
Suddenly the light went out and I couldn’t see a thing!
It was love at first sight!
I have never seen anything so amazing in all my life!
The door opened and my new teacher walked in…
Again, each student adds a sentence to a story and passes it on.
- Or, you might use realia instead of pictures.
- Or you could establish a theme for the writing.
- Or restrict it greatly; perhaps if you had recently done a lesson on clothing you could give each student a picture of a person and each sentence must mention what that person is wearing.
- Or use videos instead of pictures.
- Or have each student fill in one part of a questionnaire.
The possibilities are almost endless.Image © photographerglen