Writing is where information and ideas meet the structure and flow of language. Sure, anyone can in essence write – but a list of online resources helping to make good student writing great? Read on!
This post is the final leg of a 3-part blog series focusing on online resources to share with students. Be sure to join us on every stop along the way – see also our top 5 game sites and top 5 grammar sites!
With Emended you can easily guide your students to the right remedial writing instruction – tips and explanations that are sure to make technically sound and creative writers of them. Simply utilise links in your own feedback commentary to get them one-click access to clarifications and demonstrations seemingly designed just for them. Feedback doesn’t get more actionable than that!
To spare you searching all the wrong resources for just the right ones, here are our top 5 English writing sites to share with students:
Don’t let access to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) being free have you think otherwise – the wealth of information on hand is top-class. We recommend linking students upper-intermediate and above to OWL content as the site deals in topical, audience-specific writing (viz. technical, creative, journalistic, prose) as well as developmental minutia of the writing process itself, to include pre- and post-writing qualitative techniques. This second point being, however, what makes the OWL so interesting – you can link students to individual stages of the writing process where you’ve determined further explanation and/or example to be most needed, and thereby imparting to them advice in but a single link that would take hours for you yourself to verbalise.
The Essay Writing Center of International Student is comprehensive and approachable in having dissected for learners of English the science (and art) of academic writing. Although more for upper-intermediate learners and above, the site is for all intents and purposes a lighthouse by which to guide your ESL-writers in the direction of creating robust and attention-holding original content – or as the Essay Writing Center puts it, making sure there’s always an effective ‘hook’. The resource itself walks readers through the timeless five-paragraph essay where readers will learn about overall essay structure, by-the-paragraph particulars, and topic coherence as well as persuasion. There’s not only great information here, but essentially nothing not worth reading – ESL student or otherwise!
Courtesy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Center for Writing Studies (CWS) casts an admirably wide net, addressing unspecifically what are widely considered canons of good academic writing. Bookmarking CWS for future reference online is a no-brainer if you have students erring in the construction of clausal or sentential elements as well as finer points such as pronoun agreement or verbal mood. Not dissimilar to #1 Purdue’s OWL or #2 International Student’s Essay Writing Center, CWS also appeals to written form with consideration given to what audience one is writing for and perhaps more mission-critical yet, the overlying top-to-bottom morphology of the output itself. Simpler in its explanations, CWS is ideal for your pupils intermediate and above.
The blog-styled Daily Writing Tips (DWT) rounds out our top 4. In bridging what you’re seeing in your students’ writing to the site’s content, we recommend using DWT’s search bar, located in the site’s top-right corner. This will spare you the headache of scrolling about confusedly and getting rather just what you need. For example, should a student show an erroneous predilection for passive over active voice, search then quite literally ‘voice’ – an across-the-board formula for DWT applying to ‘colons’, ‘semicolons’, ‘hyphens’, ‘prepositional phrases’, or what have you. The site is a breeze to make your own personal library for writing best practices!
Unapologetically for English language’s more advanced students, Bartleby.com hosts what many hold as a flagship point of reference in the tutelage of academic writing – William Strunk, Jr.’s The Elements of Style. The reference work, which is precisely what this is, is style-definitive and moreover true to purpose, jumping right in with best practices in grammatical usage, composition, form, and other miscellanea. While perhaps most complementary of learners pursuing literary ends and better shared in small, relevant doses, this seminal publication has as much a place in history as it does in any high-level writing course today.