Writing Sentences with ELLs

Writing Sentences with ELLs

writing sentences

Writing a detailed sentence can be challenging for students learning English as a second or additional language. Beginning writers benefit from explicit instruction in writing sentences as well. Here are some strategies to help students improve their writing at the sentence level.

For students who are still at the beginning levels of spelling, it is helpful to practice these skills out loud. Then, once they have more advanced spelling, they will be able to write more advanced sentences.

Sentence Patterning Chart

A sentence patterning chart is similar to a sentence frame. It includes choices to help students fill in the sentence frame. You can add pictures for additional vocabulary support. It also helps to teach sentence structure and parts of speech explicitly. The chart can be simple or complex, depending on how many columns you use. You can provide students will the vocabulary or work with them to fill out the chart before using it to create sentences.

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First, choose a topic. You can prefill out the chart or work with students to fill out a chart with parts of speech such as articles, adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, or prepositional phrases. Then model for students how to go across the chart and create a sentence. Practice creating sentences orally first and then move on to writing. Watch a detailed explanation of sentence patterning charts by Katie Toppel.

Mixed Up Sentence

Creating a sentence from mixed up words helps students to practice sentence structure. They do not need to think of the vocabulary words to build the sentence. To further support beginning ELLs, you can add pictures for the sentence, capitalize the first word of the sentence, and include ending punctuation (remove these supports for more advanced students). Try a FREE sample of the -all Sentence Scramble Set.

Expand Sentences

Give students a very short sentence. Then, use question words to support them in expanding that sentence and giving it more details.

Question Words

Use question words to help students practice writing sentences. Choose a topic and then have students answer questions. Next model how to take the information and put it together into a detailed sentence.

Question Words with Pictures

Show students a picture and then ask them questions such as who, what, where, when. After they fill in this information, students create a sentence. You can read more information about using question words to expand sentences in The Writing Revolution.

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Mentor Sentences

A mentor sentence shows students an example of a well-written sentence that models how to use a grammar concept in context. It is often taken from a longer paragraph or story. Try and find a sentence that students will connect with.

First, give students time to point out what they notice about the sentence. You can guide them by asking the question What do ______ do when we read? Summarize the main idea of the sentence. Then, give them a sentence frame so that students can create their own version of the sentence.

You can read more information about using mentor sentences in Patterns of Power.

Watch a video about using mentor sentences with newcomer ELLs.

Get a FREE sample of the ELD Writing Lessons.

You will receive the print materials for the complete sentence writing lesson.




The Writing Revolution

The Writing Rope

Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1-5

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