ESL Essay Writing: Tips and Tricks

Usually, students don’t like ESL essays, and for a reason. Writing in a native language is challenging for many people. But writing in a foreign language is even more challenging. Just imagine that those thoughts and ideas that are complicated to express in the native language, you now have to express in English.

So, it is crucial to know how to write it. There are some tips that could help you to write a good ESL essay even if you aren’t good at writing in general. Moreover, the topics for an ESL essay are usually rather common and simple. For sure, nobody will require from you the solutions to some complex philosophical issues if you are writing in a foreign language.

How to Write an Essay for ESL Students: Practical Guidelines

ESL essay writing is much easier if you follow some simple rules. These rules will help you to avoid complicated situations, in which you can get when you are dealing with a writing assignment in English. Moreover, these are tips from practicing ESL teachers, so, you can trust them.

  • Don’t get too deep, write in a simple and easy-to-read manner
  • An essay for ESL students is never too complicated: just discuss something that is close and familiar to you
  • You cannot speak English at the level of your native language. So, it is ok if you build simple and clear sentences. No need to build super complicated structures
  • ESL essay: writing, topics, outline follow simple standards
  • All in all, an ESL essay doesn’t differ from any other essay. The only difficulty is a foreign language

As you can see, even teachers tell the same: don’t try to show that you are super cute and super smart because this can lead to additional errors and, hence, to a worse grade. Write in a way, in which you can write securely.

ESL Essay Writing Tips: Follow Them to Avoid Problems

Esl essay topics aren’t complicated, but still, you might need some preliminary preparation. What about checking some sources in English? You can as well find a good dictionary and write down all the words that you might need to use that are complicated for you. Regarding the vocabulary, you can even consult with your teacher and check if you understand the meaning of all the words correctly.

ESL Essay`s Topics Aren`t Complicated

As we have already mentioned, usually, ESL essay topics aren’t complicated. Your teachers understand that writing in a foreign language is more complicated than writing in a native language. Moreover, the target of an ESL essay isn’t to check your ability to analyze and make conclusions. Yes, this target is present, but it is not the major one.

The main target of your teacher is to check your ability to write and express your thoughts in English correctly. Do you get the idea? That’s why topics are usually limited to everyday situations in your life:

  • A place you love
  • Your plans for the next year
  • Who is your best friend? Tell a couple of words about him/her
  • Who would you like to invite to your birthday party and why?
  • Give directions on how to get from one location to another
  • Did you have a favorite movie when you were a child? What was it?
  • Do you have a favorite character? What about describing it?
  • Which food do you like most of all and why?
  • Without which person you cannot imagine your life and why?
  • The best event you have attended in your life

As well, you might be interested to know about some ESL writing prompts that might be very helpful. Some students try to explain super complicated ideas and express their feelings as if they were doing it in their native language. However, this is a mistake.

The main target of an ESL essay is to show how you know some grammatical and lexical material. For example, if you have completed the topic about the past tenses, most likely, you will get a topic about some past events, like your vacation or your best friend when you were a child. So, your task is to show how you know the material that you have learned: grammar, as well as vocabulary.

ESL Essay Outline Should Look Simple

As you might understand, the ESL essay outline is something simple. For example, if you are writing about a past event, make a short introduction. Explain why you have selected the event. Then, just describe it. Was there something unusual or funny?

Maybe something touched you, or there was something that made that event memorable. And then, make a conclusion. Just write whether it was a bad or a good experience, why you have selected it and which conclusions you made for yourself from that experience.


An ESL essay isn’t usually something complicated and has very particular, or, rather, narrow targets. Your main task is to use the grammar and the lexical means that you have learned and to make as few errors as it is possible.