ESL Writing Grading Rubric | Evaluating English Writing

ESL writing grading rubric

Grade Fairly with this ESL Writing Grading Rubric

For English teachers, grading writing and speaking are not easy when compared to something like grammar or vocabulary because there’s no right or wrong answer. Everything falls on a continuum from terrible to excellent. The challenge for teachers is to grade in a way that’s fair and that also appears this way to the students. To do this, you’ll need an ESL writing rubric.

After all, student evaluations at my school are the sole thing that determines whether or not we get our contract renewed.

My ESL Writing Grading Rubric

My solution to ensure fair grading and also appear this way to my students is to use this ESL Writing Grading Rubric, even though within reading the first couple sentences of a 5-paragraph, 500 word essay, I usually know what grade the student will get, especially if terrible, or excellent. The middle ones require a bit of a closer look to separate the A students from the B ones. This ESL essay rubric started off more complicated, but over the years I’ve simplified it. The best ESL writing rubrics are simple enough that students can clearly understand why they received the grade that they did.

Looking for an excellent textbook for teaching academic writing to ESL or EFL students? Stop looking right now and go buy this: Great Writing 4: From Great Paragraphs to Great Essays.


You Sure about That, my Student?

The other tip besides using an ESL writing rubric is for when grading ESL writing. This tip will reduce the number of complaints by a lot! Tell the students that of course they are free to ask you to re-grade their essay and you will do your best to look at their essay with fresh eyes but you’ll spend 3-4 times the amount of time you spent the first time around and get out your red pen and circle every single mistake they’ve made and not overlook anything. I always mention that I’m very kind and generally overlook almost all the small-medium things.

I mention that it’s possible to get a higher grade but it’s also very possible to get a lower one. I give the example of them getting 20/25, but they think they maybe should have gotten 21 or 22. In this case, it’s a terrible idea to ask me to re-grade it. However maybe I made a serious mistake and gave them 15/25, but their essay was actually quite good and they should have gotten 24/25. Then it would make sense to ask me to check again.

Mean-Yes. Effective-also Yes

Is this mean? Perhaps. But, it’s also quite effective and this past semester in my 3 writing classes, a grand total of zero students asked me to take a second look. I strive for total professional at all times, but I’m also not willing to let my job consume every last second of free time that I have.

Teaching ESL writing, the easy way. It’s possible! Use this ESL writing rubric and you’ll be well on your way!

Need to bone up on your own grammar to teach ESL writing? Check out these simple english grammar guides.

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