B2 Lesson Plan

Teach ESL Students MLA, APA, and Chicago styles for Academic Essays

Created by ALULA | April 23, 2024

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- Academic writing, Essay -

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Academic essays can be daunting for ESL students, yet they are critical for academic success. This lesson plan is tailored for upper-intermediate (B2) ESL adult learners focusing on the nuts and bolts of academic essay writing. By the end of this lesson, students will gain confidence in constructing well-organized essays with clear thesis statements and properly referenced sources.


This lesson plan offers a deep dive into English for Academic Purposes, with a keen focus on writing essays. It covers the essentials of essay structure, language use, paragraph construction, thesis statements, and source referencing. Through a series of structured activities, students will learn how to articulate their ideas clearly and cohesively in English.

Lesson Focus

Students will gain hands-on experience in constructing academic essays, understanding the purpose of each essay section, and employing appropriate academic language. Additionally, learners will practice developing coherent thesis statements, organizing their thoughts into structured paragraphs, and correctly referencing academic sources.

Lesson Content

Activity 1: Crafting a Thesis Statement

Approximate Time Needed: 20 minutes

Objective: To develop clear and concise thesis statements.

Materials: Handouts with guidelines for writing thesis statements (Available online or created by the instructor).


  1. Review the handout on constructing thesis statements.
  2. In groups, analyze examples of effective and weak thesis statements.
  3. Individually, choose a topic provided by the instructor and draft a thesis statement.
  4. Share and discuss each thesis statement within groups for feedback.

Activity 2: Organizing Essay Paragraphs

Approximate Time Needed: 30 minutes

Objective: To understand and practice paragraph organization within essays.

Materials: Paragraph structure handouts, example essays (Accessible online or provided by the instructor).


  1. Review the handout on paragraph structure, focusing on topic sentences, supporting information, and concluding sentences.
  2. Analyze the paragraph organization in example essays.
  3. In pairs, select a thesis statement created in Activity 1 and outline three supporting paragraphs.
  4. Present and discuss the outlines with the class for feedback.

Activity 3: Referencing Sources

Approximate Time Needed: 25 minutes

Objective: To practice referencing sources correctly in essays.

Materials: Handouts on referencing styles (APA, MLA, etc.), example sources (books, articles).


  1. Discuss the importance of citing sources and review different referencing styles with the handout.
  2. Examine given sources and practice writing citations in the preferred referencing style.
  3. Create a bibliography for an imaginary essay using the sources.
  4. Share and critique the bibliographies in small groups.

Wrap Up

This lesson plan on academic essay writing will bolster students' understanding of essay structure, from crafting a compelling thesis to organizing their thoughts and citing sources. Through hands-on activities, learners will leave the classroom better prepared to tackle academic essays with confidence.

Incorporating technology into learning, ALULA, an AI-powered ESL app, can greatly enhance this learning experience. ALULA offers conversation exercises related to academic writing and speaking exercises focused on grammar, complementing this lesson plan. By practicing at home with ALULA, students can further solidify their understanding and gain additional practice in a simulated conversational context. This innovative approach ensures learners not only grasp the theoretical aspects of essay writing but also become adept at applying these skills in practical settings.

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