Practice Say Write Change

ESL Writing Activity:

Practice It, Say It, Write It, Change It

ESL Student Writing and Practicing Speaking

Duration: 10-20 Minutes

Type: Individual

What you will need:

  • Paper & Pencils (I suppose you know that ?)
  • An Example Text
  • TPR Motions to Go with Text


Each students receive a set of example sentences or an example paragraph that they practice together with the teacher or in small groups. Once a student can say the example(s) without looking, that student says the example(s) to the teacher. If the teacher says a student passes, the student attempts to write the example(s) without looking at the answers. When the teacher says a student has passed the writing, the student can change the example(s) and make it their own. 

How to Organize:

  1. Provide students with an example text you want them to reference. The text could show them a good example of how to structure a paragraph, how to structure an argument, how to write using similes, how to describe a scene, how to explain instructions, how to write in the past tense, how to use conjunctions, etc.
  2. Read the text together and point out the concepts you want students to pay attention to.
  3. Then together as a class or in small groups, assign actions to the different example sentences or each sentence in the paragraph. 
  4. Students then practice saying the paragraph until they can say it without looking at the answers. 
  5. Once a student is ready, he or she can go to the teacher to attempt to say the example sentences or paragraph. 
  6. You can decide whether a student passes based on whatever standard you would like (i.e. fewer than 3 mistakes). 
  7. Once a student passes, that student attempts to write the paragraph out without looking at the answers. Then he or she shows the written work to you. You decide again whether the student passes or not.
  8. Once a student passes, he or she can change the paragraph and make it their own. If the focus is on grammar, they only need to use the same grammar in their own writing. If the focus is on story structure, they only need to follow the same structure. If the focus is vocabulary, they only need to use the same vocabulary. 
  9. You can consider letting them be goofy and change the text to something silly as long as they show good grammar, vocabulary, etc.


  • This activity is a wonderful way to commit scaffolds to memory. Very often we provide scaffolds to our English language learners and they come to rely on them too much. When we require them practice the scaffold in such a way that they are more likely to remember in the future, they are also more likely to remember when they are doing future writing or completing a test.
  • If you get the students doing big, fun actions with each sentence, they get the blood flowing and are better able to remember what they are learning.

Used this activity before or have a variation? Share about it in the comments below!

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