Methods to Expand Your English Writing Skills
Since we’ve established the importance of writing, not only as an intrinsic skill, but also as an essential component of the language acquisition process, I’m going to share some tips on how to integrate the writing in English into your study routine.
Have your texts corrected by an educated native speaker. While the act of writing itself is invaluable for developing productive language skills, receiving feedback in the form of corrections will allow you to progress much more effectively. You can get started now by submitting an essay and receiving a free correction from one of our teachers.
Devote 20% of your English language study time to writing. To achieve faster and more balanced results in language acquisition, you should devote equal time to the four language skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing – and to reviewing your personal content.
Writing is often the skill that requires the greatest motivation to practice; therefore, whenever you are in a creative mood or feeling full of energy, take the opportunity to practice your writing. Remember that writing consolidates your vocabulary and grammatical mastery and helps you develop your fluency, which makes the transition to speaking much easier.
Be sure to write an essay before each conversation class with your teacher. This will help you follow the previous two tips and will also help you speak with greater fluency and a more varied vocabulary, thus getting the most out of your lessons.
Write short notes and messages in your target language.
Now get into the habit of writing your shopping lists, things to do, your ideas, your inspirations, your reminders to yourself – in short, all short texts intended for your personal use – in your target language. Additionally, whenever you send messages or even emails to people who can read the language, take the opportunity to practice writing.
Read quality texts, like good literature. Reading forms the basis of writing, and just as there is truth to the English saying “garbage in, garbage out”, the opposite also applies: if you read books, magazines, blogs and essays written in elegant prose, you will gradually develop refined writing skills.
Look up words as needed, but don’t translate entire sentences before finishing. Remember that the process of writing is extremely beneficial for language acquisition – in particular, having to construct your own sentences is the best way to fix vocabulary and grammatical structures.
However, after you have completed your essay or even parts of it, you can use an automatic translator and grammar checker to facilitate self-correction. Either way, you should get corrections from a native speaker afterwards; but by first using a grammar checker and comparing your original version with a machine translation, you can teach yourself and allow your teacher to focus on more subtle stylistic improvements to your text. However, sometimes it is best to leave all the correction to your teacher.
Share your writing with others. This can boost your creativity and give you the extra motivation you need to write down your ideas. Don’t know where to publish your writing? Then write for the Natural Language Institute! We are happy to publish texts written by foreign language students of different levels in the Community section of our website.
A common question students ask when asked to write is “What should I write about?” While the generic answers “write about what inspires you”, “about a topic you’ve been thinking about”, or “about whatever you want to write about” are perfectly valid, I’ll give you some more concrete suggestions based on of your current level.