Tips to Write Better if English is your Second Language
Writing in a foreign language can be hard enough without the pressure of actually doing it well.
English is already an odd language to write in – for who speak the language as their first. So imagine how much harder it gets if English is your second language. Sometimes it feels impossible to write in a second language, doesn’t it?
But we’re here to dispute that very notion, however, and give you the confidence that you can, in fact, get better!
Don’t be disheartened, for there are ways to better your writing skills in English, as a second or even third language. It’s going to take a little time and lots of dedication though, and we at PaperTrue thought of giving you some tried and tested tips to make that road easier!
Think about it this way, you really have nothing to lose! C’est la vie, right?
1) Read, Sleep, Eat, Repeat.
This is an important habit, regardless of language. But more so, if the goal is to write well in a second language. Reading any material for at least half an hour every day is bound to improve your writing skills, simply because you will learn and try to adapt based on whatever you read.
Of course, it will also contribute immensely to your vocabulary, and is the best medium through which you can absorb the foreign language’s grammar and style. Be it novels, newspapers, articles online or even bills – there’s no such thing as too much reading!
Protip: You can also read something that you’ve already read in your native tongue. Since you’ll be familiar with story and vocabulary, it will be easier for you to translate and build your vocabulary in the new language.
Start with writing just a few sentences a day – like little journal entries, or sentences and phrases you tend to use often. And then work your way up from there.
It’s important to note, that you’re attempting to better an already established framework of writing skills. Therefore, this goes a little beyond simply mastering typos and grammatical errors, and into the realms of right structure and formatting. When you write, you can assess for yourself as well as get a second opinion on the style of writing, as well as the language in itself.
If your writing style improves, it’s a win no matter what language you choose to communicate in!
3) Don’t Translate
One of the biggest problems people often encounter while attempting to write in their second language is that translation happens only on paper. Thinking in your native tongue and then finding translations is a bit harder than it sounds.
So, when you sit down to write, learn to think in the language (in this case, English) you’re going to use.
Of course, that won’t really work out since you can’t always expect to find an exact match in English for the words you’re looking for since so much of language is especially context/culture-based. It might take you a little longer, but you’ll find far fewer errors in your work while also strengthening your skills.
4) Study the Grammar
There’s a reason people emphasize the importance of theory so much. Understandably, ‘who’ and ‘affect’ properly from day one, and even the most uptight sticklers for grammar will let minor mistakes slide.
In order to get a strong base in the language and avoid coming off as uneducated, it’s important to sit down with a regular Wren and Martin for grammar.
You can’t build a building on thin air and hopes (not yet, at least!), so until then, keep studying!
5) Watch Films and Television
If being conversational and verbose in English is the goal, then theory is not the only answer. Spice things up sometimes, and learn while you have fun. Grammar is important, but media often provides an insight into how English is actually used in speech. (Fiction writers: this is good dialogue fodder.) Watch your favourite show with English subtitles, or try watching the latest NBC sitcom.
After a while, try watching English films and shows without subtitles. You’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come!
6) Take Help: Friends, Editors, and Countrymen
It’s always best to get a second opinion on your writing, no matter what the language or your level of comfort is. Naturally, this means to get help from friends or expert professional editors will do wonders for your writing.
Push comes to shove, there’s always going to be online editing and proofreading tools that can help you out. Though far from doing a perfect job, tools like Grammarly not only point out your errors but also provide you with an explanation on the same.
7) The Internet is Your Best Friend
There are scores of online resources to improve your writing. They range from official sources like Coursera – where you can take MOOCs to build your language skills – to informal forums like Reddit – where you can interact with other people who are learning English as a second language. Whatever your worries are, language help or moral support, the internet is your friend.
Moreover, about 75% of the content on the net is in English, which means there is a lot of reading material at your disposal. So read away!
8) No Fear: Pobody’s Nerfect
Sometimes the beginning is the most difficult. We get how daunting it is to pen down your treasure brainchildren, especially in a second language, but it’s very important to start.
Just write. Don’t worry. You’re bound to start with mistakes. And that’s okay. With time, you will get better.
We wish you the very best of luck with your writing. Of course, if you ever need help with your writing, our editors at PaperTrue are always available to help you out!
Do let us know if you have any other ideas to improve writing that has worked out for you as well!
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