ESL Resources: How to teach FCE writing

As a writer, I love teaching writing, but it’s also one of my frustrations. I think minly because I’m quite motivated about writing and showing my students how to get better, using synoyms, giving them sound advice on how to edit and make their writing better, but there’s only ever one or two in the class who really take heed of my, or the coursebooks, tips.


If only that was all they needed to do… Photo by Melissa W Edwards

So how can you actually teach FCE students to write better? It’s a hard slog for them, having to turn out a piece of writing every 10 days or so, also correcting any writings that haven’t quite made the grade. I often see them look demotivated when I start going on about the next writing. I’d like to do another blog on how to motivate students to write, but this blog is mainly a list of resources that I’ve found on the web recently specifically for ideas on how to teach FCE.

So here you go, in no particular order. Also I haven’t tried all of these yet, but they are on my to-do-list for this year.

First Certificate Writing

This is a great resource for both teachers and students about FCE writing. There are some fantastic lesson ideas, tips, articles, and advice on how to really teach and improve your students level. I love the way each part of writing is separated and also how each specific task is focussed on.

Essay Writing

There’s a very interesting article by Alex Case on Using English along with tips and advice for what students should and shouldn’t do when writing an essay, the compulsory part. I found certain things interesting, like for example that students shouldn’t talk about both positive and negeative things about each of the three points because there isn’t enough time and space, and also about how little students may be penalised if they go over the 190 word limit. Definitely check it out though as there is some great advice for teachers.

Exam English

This is more students based, but there are some decent ideas for teachers too. Have a look at the main writing page for an overview of the writing section. There are some actual writing activities students can do to predict answers to certain questions. This could be quite good as a class activity too. Have a look at the essay one here.

Flo-Joe – Mistakes in writing

This is based on the old exam, where a letter was in part 1, but there are still some useful tips on typical mistakes that students make in their writings. You could just give this out to read, get students to predict, or highlight whichever are necessary for your students.

FCE Practise Tests

This is great page for both teachers and students. There are plenty of articles on how to do better in the FCE writing exams, how to improve your style, how to succeed in writing, and loads more. Have a look at the FCE writing archive.

Busy Teacher

Always a great website for tips and advice, and this article titled 6 tips to help students pass FCE writing is extremely useful. I’m pretty into planning and paraphrasing, so I’m a fan of these tips.

Stupid things about FCE

This is quite funny, and useful, with some interesting views on writing, as well as all the parts. Have a look at Alex Case’s opinions on what is stupid about the FCE exam.

Tefltastic FCE page

Following on from the above article, have a look at Alex’s general FCE page for some tips and worksheets on teaching FCE, with a few decent ones on writing.

That’s all for now. I’ll be adding to this blog as more resrouces for FCE writing land in my hoohah. Hope this helps.

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