Writing & Business Writing Skill Building Strategies

Activities to Help Develop Basic Writing Skills

The following activities are designed to help learners develop basic writing skills. Be sure to choose materials that appeal to the age levels and interests of the learners.

Write Personal Guidelines

Help learners write a list of personal guidelines for proofreading the sentences they write. For example, does each sentence:

  • have a subject and a verb?
  • begin with a capital letter?
  • end with a period or question mark?

Keep a Journal

Have learners keep a journal in which they write daily, using full sentences (fragments are sometimes used intentionally and effectively, but more often in advertising and creative writing than in workplace writing). Give them a prompt ("brainstorm ideas for your next project," "write about something you are reading," etc.) or let them choose their own topics. The important thing is for them to write for several minutes daily. Have them select several sentences to revise. Recognize learners for writing complete sentences.

Give a Sentence to Describe

For example:

John Bixler tunes pianos.
The company will send you a refund.
subject/verb/indirect object/direct object
The nursery sells houseplants and perennials.
subject/verb/object/coordinating conjunction/object

Read Phrases

Read phrases or sentence fragments to the class (advertisements are a good source). Have learners rewrite each phrase or fragment as a full sentence.

Write a "How to" List

Discuss imperative sentences with learners and have them write a "how to" list for performing some activity (preparing a recipe, turning on a computer, building something, etc.). For instance, to greet customers in a restaurant:

—Don't keep anyone waiting for longer than one minute.
—Always smile when you greet customers.
—Make sure the table is clean before you seat customers.
—Give customers menus when you seat them.
—Tell the appropriate server that new customers have been seated.
To close a store for the night:
—Lock the front door.
—Take out the trash and lock the back door.
—Turn off display case lights.
—Turn down the thermostat.
—Vacuum the carpet.
—Turn off the overhead lights.
—Exit through the front door and activate the alarm.