Essay Writing: Ideas for Teachers

Because there is so much material on essay writing, there is only one teaching idea included here, but it can be adapted to fit any of the essay writing materials on the website.

The materials and lesson plans assume that your students are at an intermediate level or above and already have some knowledge of the grammatical features highlighted on the website. There are of course many ways in which you could adapt the materials for use in class, with different permutations of individual work, pair work and group work, and the ideas below are just suggestions to prompt your own creativity. If you would like to share your teaching ideas for the materials please contact me and we can put your ideas up on the English for Uni blog. My email address is

I do not know how long your classes are, so the idea below can be adapted in any way you like. You might want to spend longer on some features than others, or you might want to use a flipped/inverted classroom approach and give the students some things to do before class and use the class time to discuss particularly difficult areas. The website materials and exercises can be downloaded as pdf files, or as Word files if you want to adapt them yourself.

If you want to use the website exercises in class, I’ve found that it works well to put a QR code up on a screen for the students to scan so they can go directly to an exercise. To generate a QR code, copy the URL for the exercise and then paste it into a QR code generator, such as this one: You can use this in a very basic way, with all the custom suggestions, and produce a black and white code to copy using either a screen shot or the snipping tool. Then paste this code into a PowerPoint slide and project it on a screen or wall. It takes less than a minute to do this and the students enjoy using the code.

You could also give students a copy of the video transcript and ask them to act out the story. They could even change the story to highlight different features of essay writing or add new ones and make a video of their final product.

These teaching suggestions are available as a PowerPoint, PDF or in Word format.

  • Suggestion 1

    This suggestion focusses on voice.

    1. Play the Essay Chef cooking show part of the video.
    2. Ask students what Gordon did wrong and what they need to consider when writing an essay. Some ideas are: structure, research, topic/title, content, paragraphs, argument, drafting, proofreading, incorporating your own voice, referencing, introduction, conclusion.
    3. Voice. How can you reference and paraphrase but still make your own ‘voice’ as a writer clear? Look at the relevant section in the explanation online or in the downloadable explanation or PowerPoint. Examine the differences in the way student writers incorporate their voice so that they are in charge of the text and are not presenting a list of quotes or paraphrases from other writers.
    4. Do exercise 3 on voice from the website or give students coloured pencils so they can mark a printed copy of the exercise in different colours to denote the student writer (yellow), quotes/direct external voice (green) and paraphrases/indirect external voice (grey).
    5. Play the teaching section of the video to remind students of what to consider when writing an essay.