Monday, June 5, 2017

10 Tips for Improving Your Writing in a Foreign Language by Julia Kyprienko

Ten Key Tips for Improving Your Foreign Language Writing Skills

As Federico Fellini put it, a different language is a different vision of life since any foreign language is a reflection of its speakers’ culture, traditions, and worldview. Writing in a foreign language can be much harder than doing so in your native language – you can't understand exactly how people speaking this language think which creates certain problems when it comes to expressing yourself clear.

Making errors in writing can be embarrassing and confusing so it's natural you'd want to improve your proficiency. Why should you worry about making mistakes in your writing? Here is just a couple of reasons:
  1. Mistakes can create a false impression that you have a very low level of education, even if you're very intelligent.
  2. Language tests traditionally grade your writing ability. If you keep making technical errors you'll receive low grades, even if the content is fabulous.
  3. Writing is a vital aspect of professional communication. Moreover, if you are planning to stay in the host country or work with the second language speakers, becoming proficient in written expression is imperative.
  4. Errors in writing can cause misunderstanding and confusion. We all want to be understood correctly, don’t we?

Nevertheless, with intensifying globalization, mastering a foreign language and using it in natural settings is not a problem or rarity any more. More and more foreign students are studying in countries where they can learn the local language and perform assignments in that language. Though self-expression in a foreign language is sometimes harder than it is in mother tongue, it's not impossible. Experts from a custom essay writing service have compiled a set of simple rules to follow to acquire strong writing skills in a second language. Enjoy!

1. Use Professional Writing Workshops

The best way of learning a foreign language is to communicate with people speaking it, or at least with other students learning it. Hence, active writer communities, workshops, and retreats specializing in that language learning may become a very strong boost to your writing skill. Meeting like-minded people with a similar goal, training and learning new things together – all this can become an effective starting stage for your expressive proficiency.

2. Deal with Your Own Clichés

As we have already noted, every language comples complete with its own world view. Writing to be understood is connected with avoiding the clichés inherent in your culture and language. An experienced reader knowing your mother tongue will always spot these clichés, which generally look unnatural in the second language and confuse the meaning of what you wanted to say. Learn the foreign language’s phrasal verbs and idioms to use them effectively for eloquence.

3. Read in the Second Language

Active and diverse reading is a sure way to develop natural literacy in any language. Similar to helping you acquire elegance of expression in your native language, reading is a powerful tool for learning interesting expressions in the target language. Make notes when you read, learn the phrases you like, and start using them in your writing and you will gradually grow to a natural-like style of writing even in a foreign language.

4. Use a Thesaurus

No matter how many words you learned by heart – there is still a strong likelihood that you only know a small percentage of the language’s lexicon. Never ignore the possibility of consulting a thesaurus; this useful tool will suggest numerous contextual variants and synonyms of the word or phrase you would like to use, and will add diversity and richness to your speech.

5. Ask Native Speakers for Feedback

Feedback from native speakers is vitally important, especially at the initial stages of the learning process. A person who speaks your foreign language natively will definitely have a better understanding and they may point out some unnatural-sounding phrases or confusing expressions. Use this feedback to improve and polish your writing and it'll look as if a native speaker wrote it.

6. Use Second Language in All Writing

Many students and learners make a common mistake – using a foreign language only in thematic writing for a purpose, that is, for academic assignments and tasks. However, learning a language well usually stretches far beyond only using it in essays and research papers. To make it a part of your life and to learn to think in that language, try to write down all your routine issues in it: make shopping notes, hold a personal diary, find friends online and communicate with them, make reminders in your phone in that language. You won't even notice how it will become a natural and easy way for your self-expression.

7. Learn More Grammar

Obviously, you cannot ignore grammar. Writing correctly in any language requires a knowledge of the grammar rules but you can start your learning process from learning the basics and then progressing through the language as your skills mature. Attention to grammar should be in every sentence you write, since bad grammar mistakes can create much confusion.

8. Collaborate with Fellow Students

If you are a foreign student studying in the country and learning its language as your second/foreign language, we strongly recommend finding other foreign students and working together in a collaborative ESL/EFL community. These students are certain to have the same problems with the foreign language as you do; some of them know the language better and can help others in a non-academic, friendly environment. Such a mode of studies has many advantages: on the one hand, you acquire many new friends in a new, unknown environment, and on the other hand, you receive knowledge outside a classroom.

9. Make Active Use of the Web

The Internet is a very powerful source of mostly-free language learning opportunities! There are numerous sites offering language classes and advice and you only pay with your free time and perseverance. Independent learning is surely harder than directed learning in a classroom but if your desire to learn writing in a foreign language is strong, you can surely handle it!

10. Keep Your Writing Simple

The final piece of advice is to keep things simple; be critical and objective regarding your real level of knowledge, and do not attempt to produce extensive, complicated pieces of writing right from the start. Beginning is always hard. Try to write simple sentences to and avoid complex grammar and syntax constructions. This is the surest method of making sure you will be understood by native speakers. Once your language skills become stronger and you learn more grammar rules, you can then try to compose longer and more sophisticated writing pieces. Good luck!