Writing in English is often one of the skills that gets ignored. Reading is quite easy, and everyone wants to speak in their new language so listening and speaking can improve in a natural setting but writing is difficult. With writing, it is necessary to practise the skill, often to a point where you may not use it in your real life. That doesn’t mean it’s important. Having a high level of writing in English can open up lots of job and study opportunities for you and will also help you master English more generally.
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Ways you can practise writing
Firstly, it’s not just important to practise your writing but to make sure you get feedback. Because if you write every single day and you make the same mistake every single day you’re writing probably isn’t going to get better even though you are practising the skill. You may find that just by writing everyday you find it easier to write more quickly and you won’t have to think about things so much, but without that feedback you could be in danger of fossilising mistakes into your memory that are more difficult to get rid of later on.
With that in mind here are some ways you can practise writing.
If you’ve spent much time on our site then you already know that here at Lingo Press Books, we are big fans of the website italki.
italki has lots of great features, but the one we want to talk about today is the notebook feature. With the notebook you can write entries in English and then native English speakers will correct your entries and give you feedback for free. That’s right, it might sound too good to be true but you really don’t need to pay for anything. It’s just good if you have the time to correct some entries that have been written in your native language too.
Not all of you will be in the position where you can get feedback from a teacher but if you’re currently taking English classes then a teacher is a fantastic resource. Your teacher wants you to succeed, so don’t wait until they give you homework. Use some initiative and try writing essays and articles and give them to your teacher to mark.
It might be extra work for your teacher but they will give you feedback and this is a great way to improve. Also try and think about it like this; it reflects better on your teacher if you improve your English skills. So really you’re doing them a favour as much as they’re doing you one.
Past papers can be a great way to practise your English writing skills. All past papers have a written section, where they provide you with some information and you have to write a blog, or essay, or something like that. Past papers are great because the tasks often require you to use specific types of grammar or more difficult structures. So if you try lots of different past papers you should get experience with different writing styles.
The only thing about using English past papers is that you probably will need to find someone who can mark your work and give you feedback. But this is where italki and teachers can come in useful.
You’ve probably found native English speakers to do language exchanges with, where you speak in English for half an hour and then in your language for half an hour. But have you ever thought about finding English speakers with whom you could swap written work?
You can find a native speakers on a website like italki or conversation exchange and ask if they can mark some of your written work. In return you could mark some of their work that has been written in your language.
That way you get feedback for free and you’re also helping them improve their language skills. It’s a win-win situation.
Keep a diary
I know I said earlier that getting feedback is important to improve your writing, but also getting used to writing in English and having it feel natural is really useful.
If you write a diary every day, even if it’s just a small entry, your written English will start to feel more and more natural and you’ll find you can write much more quickly. Which will come in useful, especially in an exam situation.
It just might also be useful to see if you can find a way to get feedback on your diary entries.
Ways to make your writing sound better
Now you’ve read about where you can practise your writing and how you can get feedback, here are some of the things you can do to make your writing sound better.
- In addition to
- Most importantly
- On the other hand
- In conclusion
- To summarise
Add phrases and vocabulary for more natural sounding writing
Try to use new phrases and vocabulary you have learnt in your writing so you can fortify your knowledge. Here are some common British idioms. Next time you’re writing an article try and use some of them to help them become more natural to you.
When you are writing in English it can be a good idea to try and include a different expression or idiom in each piece of writing to help you practise how to use them.
Learn topic specific vocabulary
When you’re practising your writing, try and pick specific themes to practise. So one day you can write something about hospitals and the next day about education.
When you do a writing task like this try and learn the vocabulary that goes with the theme. That way you’re learning more vocabulary and also learning how to put it in your writing at the same time.
Time to improve other English skills
If you’re feeling confident with your English writing skills then you should take a look at how to improve your English reading skills.
Or take a look at some of English books for English learners, to get some fun hands on practise at reading in English.
These are our beginner series.
We hope you’ve found our tips on how to improve your English writing useful. If you think there are other things you can try out then let us know. Or if you’d like use to help you to improve other skills then just ask and we’ll happily dedicate an article to that as well.