Instructor Guide

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Thank you for making use of the ESL Writing Online Workshop (ESL-WOW). ESL-WOW is an innovative writing program designed for community college students and adult learners. It offers free 24/7 support to all non-native speakers of English while complementing existing traditional programs and the larger undergraduate curriculum.  We hope you find ESL-WOW helpful as a supplementary tool for both traditional and online classroom instruction. You can learn more about ESL-WOW in the “About ESL-WOW” section.

Accessing Content



Once inside ESL-WOW, you will have the option of accessing one of the four interlocking interactive modules (Figure 1) that encourage students to progress through each stage of the pre-writing, while-writing, and post-writing processes. 


Site Map (index) for the 4 main modules

Figure 1

Figure 1. The Four Modules of ESL-WOW listed in the left navigation menu


Or, under Other Resources (Figure 2), you can read more about ESL-WOW. watch the video about ESL-WOW, see the objectives under “What You Will Learn,” get detailed information under “How to Use ESL-Wow, view the Avoiding Plagiarism tutorial, or see additional helpful resources to guide and assist your teaching under “External Resources.”

Figure 2

Figure 2. Other resources listed in the left navigation menu



ESL-WOW is accessed through the interactive menus. The buttons on the left present information in the form of modules, topics and sub-topics. Each of these primary buttons represents a module. Buttons under each module represent topics (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3. Topics for each module are listed in the left navigation when the module listings are clicked.


Each level is active when its label is blue (Figure 4). To get to additional information, click on the topics under each module.

Figure 4

Figure 4. The active left navigation is highlighted blue.


The Next and Previous buttons (Figure 5) allow you to move back and forth between the last screen and the next screen.

Figure 5

Figure 5. The "Previous" and "Next" buttons

Technical Requirements



To achieve the most from the ESL Writing Online Workshop, it is important that the program be experienced on computer systems which meet or exceed the recommended minimum system requirements. In order to view the segments, it is necessary that you have Adobe’s Flash plug-in version 9.0 or greater installed in your web browser.

Figure 6




Figure 6. Recommended minimum system requirements to use ESL-WOW


While some OWLs provide links to grammar and basic writing resources, none offers an integrated suite of services targeted to academic and workforce writing skills. ESL-WOW is an online multimedia program designed to guide non-native speakers of English through each stage of the pre-writing, while-writing, and post-writing processes: 1) Getting Ready to Write, 2) Developing Your Ideas, 3) Revising Your Work, and 4) Editing and Polishing.

ESL WOW will help your students focus on distinct areas of the writing process. As a result of using this site, your students will learn how to do the following:

      • Develop a thesis
      • Use linear logic
      • Find resources for their work
      • Judge the value of information
      • Develop an outline
      • Take notes
      • Cite information
      • Avoid plagiarism
      • Revise their text
      • Edit and polish their paper

ESL WOW and Instruction

ESL WOW is a useful addition to almost any traditional or online class that deals with teaching writing elements or addressing plagiarism issues with non-native speakers of English. Students will have the option of participating in interactive learning modules as well as listening to audio files and narrated presentations on critical parts of the writing process in simple, accessible captioned English. At the prompting of the instructor, the students will be led through embedded videos and online instructional content through scenarios that guide them in constructing needed knowledge and building useful schemas as they work through modules that address the different challenges of written English. In this section, we provide you with the objectives of each module, a description of each module, and some sample classroom activities and scenarios for various types of classes that instruct non-native speakers of English.

Objectives of the Modules:

          Getting Ready to Write

    Students will understand and utilize effective prewriting strategies such as the following:

    • Generating ideas
    • Developing a thesis
    • Mapping ideas

Developing Your Ideas

Students will understand and utilize effective strategies for developing their ideas through the following:

    • Reading and taking notes
    • Using others’ ideas
    • Composing

Revising Your Work

    Students will understand and utilize effective strategies for revising their work including the following:

    • Understanding the importance of revision
    • Reading out loud
    • Glossing
    • Using a checklist

Editing and Polishing

    Students will understand and utilize effective strategies for editing and polishing their writing including the following:

    • Correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation
    • Formatting

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • In the tutorial, "Avoiding Plagiarism," students will learn the following:
  • What plagiarism is
  • How to recognize 7 different kinds of plagiarism
  • The correct way to use 'open access' materials
  • The consequences of plagiarism
  • How to avoid plagiarism by doing the following:

    • citing sources correctly
    • recognizing 'common knowledge'
    • writing good paraphrases
    • writing good summaries
    • taking careful notes

Description of ESL-WOW Modules

Getting Ready to Write

This module is divided into three sections: Generating Ideas, Developing a Thesis, and Mapping Your Ideas.  Students will be introduced to the prewriting aspect of the writing process. Some activities covered include taking notes in class, getting the most out of assigned readings, consulting with peers, developing a thesis and composing an outline.

Developing Your Ideas

This module is divided into three sections: Read and Take Notes, Using Others’ Ideas, and Compose. Students will learn how to take their writing beyond the prewriting aspect by getting their ideas down on paper; incorporating the work of other writers through summary, paraphrase, and direct quotes; becoming aware of what constitutes plagiarism and how they can avoid it; outlining and organizing their information; and composing a first draft.

Revising Your Work

This module is divided into four sections: Importance of Revision, Read Out Loud, Glossing, and Using a Checklist.  Students will learn the value of an often-overlooked step in the writing process by focusing on useful revision strategies and the use of a revision checklist.

Editing and Polishing

This module is divided into five sections: Automated Writing, Spelling and Grammar, Punctuation, Personal Editing Guide, and Format. Students will be able to learn about the convenience of Automated Writing Evaluation (AWE) tools with a link to both free resources and resources they can pay for to help them in this area. Students will also learn how to make good decisions with regard to punctuation and grammar issues and develop a personal editing guide to help them in future writing endeavors. Lastly, students are introduced to the importance of formatting such as APA style and MLA style.

Avoiding Plagiarism

This is a thorough tutorial on plagiarism that focuses on a clear definition of plagiarism, the possible consequences of plagiarism, how to avoid plagiarism, a quiz on plagiarism, and additional resources to help give students a clear, comprehensive picture of this subject.

Sample Classroom Activities for ESL-WOW

Traditional Face-to-Face Class

  • A student submits a paper in your American English Usage course with obvious plagiarism issues. As part of the rewrite of the paper, you require the student to complete and take notes on the Avoiding Plagiarism module.
  • After explaining your expectations for the small research essay due in two weeks, you refer the student to the model essay repository under External Resources.
  • Almost every student in your remedial composition course needs assistance with thesis statement construction. You refer them to the Developing a Thesis section under the Getting Ready to Write module.
  • You notice that many of the “final draft” essays that you receive in an intermediate ESL writing course are more like rough drafts. In class, you have the students view the Importance of Revision video under the Revising Your Work module.
  • Your institution is considering adding an Automated Writing Evaluation tool to its ESL composition and first-year writing courses. When you look under Editing and Polishing, you will find information under Automated Writing to assist your school with making this decision.
  • After viewing the Avoiding Plagiarism module, you assign the students a reaction paragraph or essay on the topic of plagiarism to encourage more in-class dialogue on this complex topic.
  • You assign students the task of creating their own Grammar Journal based on the tutorial found under Editing and Polishing under the Personal Editing Guide section.
  • Before you take a trip to the library to allow students time to find a source for a research project they will do in your class, you first take time to review the concepts of citations, paraphrasing, and summarizing in the Developing Your Ideas section.

Online Class

  • As part of an online Moodle lecture in your post that stresses the importance of proofreading and editing, you include a link to the tutorial on Editing and Polishing in the ESL WOW modules.
  • You are trying to stress study skills in an online first-year writing course that contains mostly international students. As an example, you could have them view the Read and Take Notes section under Developing Ideas. The video could be part of a weekly discussion thread.
  • In the dropbox where students will submit a final paper, you stress the importance of the revision process in the Revising Your Work module.
  • Direct your ESL writers to the Read Out Loud section as one last measure of revising before submitting the final product.
  • The animation that features the Revision Checklist under Revising Your Work is a fitting way to add instruction, voice, and interaction to an online course.
  • For one of your essays in an online class, students must submit an outline for approval before the essay is due. You could send them to the Mapping Your Ideas section under the Getting Ready to Write module. There, they can get information on outlines and gain practice with an ordering activity.
  • As a quick reference to MLA and APA, you can refer students to the External Resources section for assistance with various research projects that are due in the online dropbox throughout the semester.
  • After completing a rough draft of a process essay, students can take transition words they are using in this essay and add them to their Grammar Journal that they are able to create in the Editing and Polishing module. You can create a discussion board forum where they post their Grammar Journals for classmates to view.
  • Use the Spelling and Grammar section under Editing and Polishing as a springboard for an online discussion that has students finding misspelled words on signs or elsewhere online. Students will learn the importance of precise spelling in professional communication.

Contact /Feedback

Questions? Comments? Please email with any questions you may have about the project or with feedback regarding the site.

The contents of the ESL-WOW website were developed under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

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