How to improve English writing: useful tips and ideas
Globalization is gradually destroying face-to-face communication, as it gets increasingly popular to e-mail and text everyone rather than to speak to them. Interactions between people from different countries usually happen in English, so, not to be misunderstood, we always need to think how to improve English writing and speaking. Below you may find few great ways of getting one step closer to Shakespeare and Thackeray in your ability to convey your thoughts to people without concerns for choice of words or grammar tenses.
Books are a doorway to the fantasy world. They are the most loyal companion and entertainer the humanity has ever had. For English learners books also have high educational value. Works of fiction are written in way that can charm the reader and make him interested in the plot. Such effect would be unattainable without a multitude of words the writers used. Books can help you enrich your vocabulary, enhance your communication skills, remember useful phrases and learn about dozens of ways of naming the same object or action. They can also help you start using figures of speech such as exaggeration or simile, which you can later use while speaking. If you are afraid that you won’t understand much, try some easy reading for children, like Winnie The Pooh or The Jungle Book.
Experiment with different essay structures
When you think you’ve read enough, it’s time to apply the knowledge you have received. Try your hand at writing an essay or two. Start with simple and familiar topics. Tell about yourself, your family, your job and your country. Share some information about your hobbies, a favorite movie or the most memorable moment in your life. The structure may vary, but there need to be three obligatory components: opening, where you state the topic of an essay, main body, where you tell what needs to be told, and conclusion, where you sum up all the facts mentioned in main body, and, perhaps, reinstate the idea shown in the opening. If you have a problem with a structure, use a 5-paragraph essay – a type of essay consisting of 5 paragraphs, 3 to 5 sentences in each. In paragraph 1 you explain basic ideas, in paragraphs 2-4 you tell about each idea in more detail and, perhaps, even give some examples, and in paragraph 5 you make a conclusion about what you’ve written. As you find out how to improve English writing skills, you may try writing in other styles and forms, but keep it in mind that your grammar must be impeccable.
Play word games
Spelling happens to be one of the major issues when it comes to creative writing. You may struggle with long words like “interlocutor”, silent consonants like “h” in “honour” or easily confused words like “devise” and “device”. No matter what aspect of spelling you find hard to cope with, word games may turn out to be quite helpful to both kids and adults. You may do online word-searches like this one, solve crossword puzzles like the one here or play Word Constructor on Speechyard website. If you like to compete with your friends, try playing such classics as Scrabble or Hangman.
If it is possible, ask somebody to check your works
Even the most confident English speakers sometimes need guidance and help. If you write an important text, say, a cover letter, questions for interview or graduation speech, it is a very good idea to run it by someone. You may simply not notice some flaws your work has. Your listeners, on the contrary, will let you know if something doesn’t sound good or could be improved. So ask your friends how to improve English writing. It is of vital importance, however, to accept criticism calmly and be grateful for it, no matter how harsh it may sound to you.
To many of you this advice may sound as clever as “In case of a plane crash surround yourself with sharp objects and be sure to tie a heavy rock to your neck if the plane lands on the water.” Spellcheck and autocorrect have appeared quite recently, but they already play an important part in our lives, and, sadly, make us a bit less intelligent. Many users find it more convenient to write without paying much attention to spelling and let the machine change the wrong words into right ones. This leads to two sad outcomes: 1) we start forgetting the way some words should be written and 2) no machine is perfect, so the automatic correction can add a few odd details to your paper. A great alternative could be writing a text without the spell-check and then enabling it to scan through the text, manually correct everything that needs to be corrected and let the rest be.
Write short summaries of movies you watch and books you read
Let’s be honest, opportunities to write in English don’t come by every day. Instead of being sad about it you can find a great way how your English writing can be improved quickly. Since we all read books, watch movies or TV series, we can write short summaries about what we saw or read. Try to make them challenging, e.g. describe a movie plot in 10 sentences or re-tell a story without using the protagonist’s name. Share those stories with your friends or post them as reviews on international rating websites. This will help you improve English writing skills online and at the same time be helpful to other people, who might check out the movie simply because of your review. A full movie is a bit too much for you? Speechyard has short clips with subtitles. You can set a goal of watching 1 video a day, writing short summary of it and sharing it with friends that you may easily find in the “Community” section of the website.
Use synonyms, idioms and linking words. Moderately
Those of you who are not new in the quest for better English knowledge must have heard about the importance of linking words. Structures like “in spite of”, “In conclusion”, “nonetheless” and many similar ones are said to add more clarity and structure to our text. So they do. Some people, though, take one step too far and embellish every single sentence they write with a linking word or two, turning their works into reader’s nightmare. The same sometimes applies to idioms – special phrases that mean something different from the original meaning of its components. So, instead of knowing how to improve English writing, people figure out how to screw it up. Surely, it’s great to demonstrate your knowledge of English culture, but you must always remember about moderation. Your text should be easy to read and understand. If, upon completing it, you notice that there are too many linking words or idioms are not properly used, make sure that you make all the necessary corrections. Here you may find some more sound stylistic advice.
There are more ways of figuring out how to improve English writing fast. You may join a debate club, find a foreign pen friend, work on better handwriting, check out video lessons on YouTube or start a diary in English. Keep it in mind that skills don’t magically appear overnight, but, if you work hard, you may see the result in a month or two. Let’s just hope that one day it will be absolutely impossible to discern your writing from the one of an Englishman.