This diary ESL writing activity could be used as a project-based assignment that you can have your students do throughout the term or you can use it as an activity in a single class. It works quite well for all ages and levels.
Daily Diary Writing Activity Preparation:
There is not a whole lot to prepare for this activity, but you could take some sample writing from blogs or online diaries to show your students.
By looking at samples, they will have a better idea of the types of sentence forms and informal writing styles that are typically see in diary writing.
Daily Diary Writing Activity Guidelines:
To start, write on the board three categories with the headers similar to these:
Things I did very well
Things I could have done better
Things I am grateful for
From your own personal life, explain two things in each category based on what you did yesterday or last month or last year. Pick one time frame to reflect on.
For example, for number one you could say, “Yesterday, I worked hard on my assignments and surprised my girlfriend with a box of chocolates.” For number two you could say, “However, I didn’t clean the apartment and I forgot to call the plumber to fix the sink.” Lastly, for number three you could say, “I’m grateful that I’m healthy and that my girlfriend wasn’t expecting a new Ferrari to accompany the box of chocolates.”
The examples can be pretty basic or more detailed depending on your preference. Of course, consider the level of your students when giving the examples as well.
On the board, you could also write down in point form the two examples you gave for each category. This way the students can see the points visually and it works as a sort of “outline” for how to write their own ideas for the diary assignment.
After highlighting your own example, tell the students that they are going to do the same task from their own personal point of view. They should create a brief outline highlighting two things they did well, two things they could have done better and two things that they are grateful for.
Next, they can use their outlines to create a short diary entry about half a page in length. They should be encouraged to use the diary samples that you provided to follow similar forms and sentence styles. Set a time limit to complete the task. It could take them anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes depending on their level.
Once they have completed their diary entry, they could do peer correction and have a short discussion with their partners about what they wrote. Lead feedback and ask a few students some things that they did well, could have done better and what they are grateful for.
Before the end of class, have them hand in their writing if you want to give them more specific feedback on their accuracy, grammar and writing style.
Follow-Up ESL Activities:
If there is time left in class, you could try playing a fun interactive game to change the pace up a bit. For instance, you could use some of the topics from their writing and apply it to the Pictionary ESL Game.