With these learning practices, you'll never make ESL writing mistakes again

Asako Maruoka's picture
Language learning is a lifelong process with a universe of space for improvements. Beginners will struggle with the pronunciation and proper sentence structures. The intermediate level learners have their own minefield. Mastering the skill of writing spreads from first school papers to Shakespeare essays. Put some effort into it to hone your business emails, official reports, and polite requests.
English writing is based on particular patterns, traditional conjunctions, and a whole lot of the idioms. Business writing, formal writing, creative writing, and academic writing each have their own standards. Yet, there are common practices that can do good to your writing skills no matter which sphere you apply them to.
It takes months to improve, and years to reach perfection, but you can do it! And at the end of the day, you’ll be knocking off these dreading emails with ease. Set clear goals and track your progress to stay motivated.
With these learning practices, you'll never make ESL writing mistakes again

Use these simple writing practices to get better daily.


1. The more you write, the better you are at it

Daily writing can have a huge impact on your vocabulary, grammar, and fluency. Try writing 1000 words and reading through it. You will see how your writing gets much better towards the end of the page. Set a daily goal of writing 500 words. It might be an Instagram post, a short letter to a relative... whatever suits you best.

2. Do not translate your thoughts. Write in English right away

This advice is not that easy to follow. But nothing reveals your ESL like a Russian- or Spanish-structured phrase written in English words. Think of the main point of your message. Focus on what you want to say, not how. Now communicate it in English right away. 

3. Keep your sentences simple

Shorter sentences are good in more than one way. First, they get your point across clearly. Second, they make the text easier to read. Third, they help you to avoid wordiness. Complicate your sentences too much, and you risk saying the same thing many times.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

There’s no better way to push yourself. Set a goal that is a little more ambitious than what you do every day. If you’re, say, writing a paper on popular shows, why not ask Ellen DeGeneres few questions in an email? An exciting goal will make you polish your language way harder than you would usually do.
Tasks that'll make you care about your writing and google every word:
● Cover letter
● Resume
● Email to celebrity
● Apology letter
● Blog post

5. Get talking

Talking will enrich your writing, as well. They say that good writing should sound exactly like live speech. The irony is that to get to this point, you will need hours of proofreading and editing. Yet, talking helps you to grasp sentence structuring, and enriches your vocabulary. Especially when you get to practice with a native speaker. And after you have had a good chat, make sure to follow up by sending your friend a sweet “thank you for the great meet-up” note.
PRO TIP Find a pen-pal or two from your favorite web forums to get into an enjoyable emailing routine

6. Ask for feedback

The internet has made it so easy to get native speakers to take a look at your writing and share their opinions. Now you can clarify if your chosen idiom would be the right option. Or, if your language is formal enough for the certain occasion.
Some resources, for instance, italki, have a journaling section. Write anything you like here. In a couple of hours, contributors will check your text and point out the mistakes.

7. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Just as with every language, even native speakers are never perfect. Actually, they make some common mistakes all the time. So don’t let your perfectionism stop you. A confused conjunction never killed anyone (though a misplaced comma might have.)
As funny as it may sound, making mistakes is the best way to avoid them. By making the same mistakes every time, you define your weak points to work through.


8. Use a variety of materials

Written language varies greatly, depending on the source and the purpose. Your materials should also vary. The writing in a commercial brochure is not what you’ll find in a classic book. The airplane magazine lexicon will differ from a science article or academic research. Broaden your horizons by including both fiction and nonfiction readings on your list.
With these learning practices, you'll never make ESL writing mistakes again

9. Always be on the lookout for new words

Above all, it’s fun. It feels great when you can express your thoughts more precisely with that exact word you have in mind. It’s “fancy”, not “nice”. It’s “piquant”, not “tasty”. Small words often make a big difference. So do your best to add them to your vocabulary often. You may install one of the “a-word-a-day” apps to your smartphone, or use flashcards. 
PRO TIP Print out the song lyrics from your favorite artist. Songs always contain a ton of idioms and trendy lexis.
As you can see, there is more than one fun way to include effective writing practices in your daily routines. Read, email your pen-pals, chat with friends around the globe. Even something as simple as tweeting can noticeably improve your command of language.
What helped you to upgrade your writing skills? Drop a word in the comments!
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With these learning practices, you'll never make ESL writing mistakes again