Writing is a challenge no matter what language it is attempted in, but when that language is not your mother tongue, the task can seem frightening. That fear only increases when you find yourself in the position of studying in a language that is not your own; producing formal, academic-style essays in an unfamiliar language really wouldn’t be most people’s idea of fun. Indeed, most native-English speakers would wholeheartedly agree that finding the correct combination of style, vocabulary, grammar and syntax can be a difficult task.
You are far from alone. Yet writing effectively in English need not be a mission impossible. With the following recommendations and practical tips, you can become a relative master at writing in the English language in next to no time.
Tip #1: Keep (or start) reading, reading, reading!
It is absolutely no secret that reading informs you in language better than almost any other medium. Think about your own mother tongue and the importance influence reading has on the ability to write. It is a fact that almost anyone who writes well is a keen reader, and this does not change when we are talking about reading and writing in another language.
There are those who will say that they don’t enjoy reading, but it is likely that they are only referring to the classic style – i.e., books. Of course, reading a book may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but there are so many possibilities when it comes to reading that it is impossible for someone to say that they do not enjoy this activity. Consider newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, online sites, blogs, audio books or even subtitles when watching movies or TV series. Every single one of those activities can be considered reading, and the subject matter is as wide as the ocean is deep. The trick here (and really it is no trick at all) is to read about what you are interested in, and that way, reading really is no chore at all.
So, how exactly does reading contribute to your ability to write?
It expands your vocabulary
It would be important to get some variation in your reading, just so you can expose yourself to the greatest possible breadth of vocabulary. Reading niche technical manuals will of course limit the number of new words you will encounter, so try something new from time to time, but once again keep it as closely linked to the things you enjoy as possible.
It allows you to start understanding new vocabulary simply from context
Never read with a dictionary next to you – not only will it slow your reading down, but you will quickly lose interest if you have to check every second word for meaning. However, using a dictionary will also deprive you of a very important, learnt skill, which is understanding the meaning of words simply from the context in which they are given to you. In this way, you are a language detective, and it promotes independence in your learning and understanding, which in turn leads to confidence.
It exposes you to different approaches to writing
No two people write in the same way, and reading from different types of sources will also help you to appreciate the many different styles that can be used when writing, not to mention what style in appropriate in a particular context. Take, for example, the vast difference in formal and informal English. A spoken dialogue shown through subtitles in a movie will of course differ greatly from an academic paper. Your appreciation and recognistion of all styles is an essential part of mastering the language.
Tip #2: Practice makes perfect!
People often look for a magic bullet – that is, the instant solution to all their problems. Apps which promise to help you master a new language in a matter of weeks do not help matters, as for most of us there really is no substitute for hard work and practice. For every Mozart, there are countless others who have reached the level they are at through dedication and repetition, and mastering the art of writing is no different.
Now, that is not to say that being able to write effectively in English is unobtainable in a relatively short period. Writing well in English can be achieved quickly through practice, practice and more practice. Just keep writing. It doesn’t even really matter what you write about: blogs, lists, instructions, a diary, copying song lyrics – everything helps. And ask a native speaker to have a look at what you have written just so you can get an idea of the common mistakes you are making and what you can do to improve. There really is no substitute for actually just doing it.
Tip #3: Use grammar-checking software
So, you have a great idea for an essay. It’s original, innovative, and well informed. The only problem? You feel your level of English is holding you back.
This need not be a problem any longer. Fortunately, we live in the technological age, and there are now a number of software products available on the market which can greatly assist in producing error-free English text. The Linguix.com writing assistant is a fine example of a product which can fine-tune your grammar and syntax to help you produce a piece of high quality English writing.
Innovative tools such as Linguix.com can greatly assist in producing outstanding text. It’s not about taking the easy option, it’s about taking the smart option.
And there you have it. With these great tips, there’s no longer any need to be afraid. Writing awesome English text is within reach.