To improve sentence structure and overall writing skills, you can use graded exercises such as the example below, or adaptations thereof. It has been adapted from an excellent book by Louis Alexander called A First Book in Comprehension, Précis and Composition published by Longmans, 1963.
To begin with, this exercise looks a bit trite but if different graded passages are used over time, it is extremely successful in developing the writing skills of weak learners.
The students have to comprehend the paragraph and the questions and write a précis or short summary in sentence form, guided by the paragraph itself.
They practise writing the sentences and then joining them together to form a new paragraph. Paragraphs can also be built by teaching students how to use the most common connectors such as: in fact, in addition, therefore, unfortunately, actually, moreover, furthermore, however, nevertheless, because.
This exercise also practises:
- awareness of grammar in context
- reading comprehension
- grammar constructions
- paragraphing skills
- frequently used vocabulary
- cohesive devices
This simple but effective method of practising writing includes:
- confidence building
This particular example also reinforces the use of has and have and possessive pronouns.
My name is Amy. We have a large family. Every morning, we all get up early so we can have breakfast together. This is the only time of the day that we are all together. For breakfast we always have toast and cornflakes. We don’t have time to cook anything. Before we leave for school mum and dad make sure we have all the books we need and that we have our food for the day.
Write complete sentences using the paragraph above to complete the following questions:
1.Who has a large family? Amy has a large family.
2.Why do they get up early? They get up early so they can eat breakfast together.
3.What do they have for breakfast? For breakfast they always have toast and cornflakes.
4.What do Amy’s mum and dad do before they leave for school? Before they leave for school Amy’s mum and dad make sure they have all the books they need and their food for the day.
a) Rewrite your sentences adding as many of the following words that you can to connect the ideas together.
b) Add two more sentences to the story and write questions for them.
c) Give the story a title.
Example of the rewritten story
Amy has a large family. They get up early so they can eat breakfast together. For breakfast they always have toast and cornflakes. Before they leave for school Amy’s mum and dad make sure they have all the books they need and their food for the day.