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Crafting the Essay for English Language Learners

Open to: Grades 7 - 12
Challenge Level: College freshman

Prerequisite: qualifying verbal/reading score or successful completion of Writing for an Audience
Format: Web-based
Recommended School Credit: One-half academic year
Course Length: Session Based: 30 weeks (academic year). Session Dates
Course Code: CDBL


This course is currently unavailable. Please contact to be notified when it becomes available.

Course Description

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch says an English Language Learner (ELL) is "a student whose home language is not English and who has not yet acquired proficiency in English."

Students can qualify for CTY with a very high verbal score and still be English Language Learners. CTY Online Programs created this course to help ELL students use English more confidently in their future CTY courses.

This 30-week course uses the same curriculum as the 20-week version of Crafting the Essay. In addition, it emphasizes grammar, such as verb tenses, pronouns and antecedents, and subject-verb agreement, focusing on the needs of English language learners. Students work on both sentence level grammatical structures and the larger content and structural issues. By the end of this course, most students should be prepared for Writing Analysis and Persuasion, but some may need further grammatical work in From Structure to Style.

Crafting the Essay uses the personal essay to explore narration, description, and reflection. Students discover and practice techniques that make prose more lively, interesting, and powerful. Students also experiment with a variety of techniques for organizing essays and for beginning and ending work effectively. As students' writing becomes more fluent, students will start examining voice (consistent diction and psychology) and how voice interacts with audience and purpose.

This format is highly interactive. Lessons include smaller exercises. As students work through them, the instructor comments on their writing, and both student and instructor collaborate to build a final writing assignment. Students also participate in a required, Web-based writing workshop in which students critique peers' work, praising strengths and pointing out areas for improvement.

NOTE: Crafting the Essay challenges all CTY students in grades 7 thru 12, including those who already receive high marks in English literature or Language Arts classes.

Materials Needed

Readings are provided in the classroom.

Course Details

Lesson Number & Title



Final Writing Assignment (FWA)

1-- Freeing the Writer Inside

Grammar Elements:

Subject and Predicate



1. Definitions

2. Sentence Patterns and Parts

Anthropomorphic essay from the perspective of an inanimate object

Writing Elements:

Becoming Functionally unfixed

Form vs Function

3. Molly and Ned Game

4. C-A-T definitions (group)

2-- The Power of Detail

Grammar Elements:

Prepositional Phrases



1. Prepositions

2. Adjectives

Descriptive essay of a significant place, typically a room.  Emphasis on sensory description.

Writing Elements:

The Power of Detail

The Limits of Visual Description

Prewriting Through Poetry


Finding a Starting Point

3. Object Description (group)

4. Five senses poem

5. Directed Freewriting

6. Free Association

3-- The Craft of Composing

Grammar Elements:

Simple Present

Present Progressive

Simple Past

Past Progressive

Inconsistent Verb tenses

1. Present Tenses

2. Past Tenses

3. Inconsistent Verb Tenses

4. Revising your work

Chronological narrative essay, emphasizing order and importance of events.

Writing Elements:

Fiction narrative vs Nonfiction narrative

Tools of narrative

Avoiding narrative gumption traps

5. Learning to Lie (group)

6. Three sequences

4-- Elegant Sentences

Style vs Correctness

Elegance, Power, and Style

Elements of Elegance

Sentence-Level Revision

1. Identifying Errors

2. Identifying Elegance

3. Analyze an Elegant Sentence

4. Revise and Analyze an Inelegant Sentence

5. Revision and Analysis (group)

Revision and analysis of 6 inelegant sentences

5-- Revising for Unity

Grammar Elements:

Present Perfect

Past Perfect

1. Present Perfect

2. Past Perfect

3. Writing with the Past Perfect

Restructuring and Revision of Lesson 3's narrative essay.  Emphasis on organization, flashbacks.

Writing Elements:

Unity, Coherence, Proportion




Catchy Titles

4. Outline your first draft

5. Virtual Stroll

6-- Analyzing Events

Grammar Elements:

Phrasal Verbs

Verb + Preposition Combinations

1. Using Phrasal Verbs

2. Pronoun/Object Placement

3. Creating a Dictionary

4. Choosing Phrasal Verbs

5. Using Verb + Preposition Combinations

6. Test your logic

7. Using Verb Phrases Creatively

Cause and Effect Essay, analyzing a significant life event.

Writing Elements:

Narrative vs analysis

Causal Chains

Logical Fallacies

8. What is Cause and Effect

7-- Polishing Your Prose

Grammar Elements:

Adjective Clauses

Subject-Verb Agreement

Punctuation Rules

1. Definitions

2. Adjective Clauses

3. Subject-Verb Agreement: conjugate a paragraph

4. Punctuate a Paragraph

Revision of Lesson 2's descriptive essay, with emphasis on use of metaphor and simile.

Writing Elements:

Figurative Language



5. Figurative Language

6. Alliteration

7. Telescoping

8-- Creating a Persona

Grammar Elements:

Subject Complement

Predicate Adjective

Linking Verb

1. "Conjugating" an "Irregular Verb"

5. Creating a Scenario (conjugation added to FWA)

First-Person piece, written from the perspective of a fictional person

Writing Elements:




2. Elements of a Persona

3. Persona's Voice

4. Consistent Psychology

5. Creating a Scenario

6. Working with a Persona

9-- Revision Strategies and Tactics

Grammar Elements:


Adverb Clauses

Transitional Words and Phrases

Omitting Prepositions

2. Virtual Walk Part 1: Grammar

4. Adverb Clauses

5. Transitions

6. Preposition Game

Revision of Lesson 6's Cause and Effect essay, with emphasis on structure and transitions.

Writing Elements:





1. Prewriting

3. Virtual Walk Part 2: Structure

10-- Writing an Evaluation

Grammar Elements:

Definite and Indefinite Articles

Pronouns and Possessives

1. Articles

2. Pronouns and Possessives

3. Restaurant Review

Evaluation Essay, evaluating the course; emphasis on addressing a particular audience.

Writing Elements:

Finding your standard

Choosing an audience

Choosing a persona

Compare standards

4.  Find Your Standard

5. Positive and Negative Statements

6. Test Your Persona

7.  Compare Standards

Time Required

3 hours weekly for 30-week session, with breaks for the holidays


Sample Assignment

Technical requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.