Would you like to improve your English writing ? Then this article is for you ! Here are 5 tips and exercises to improve english writing. From sentence construction and grammar, to enriching your vocabulary : we’re going to share a few secrets to help you write better. We’re not promising that you will become the next Shakespeare, but by following our tips, you’ll be able to write your business emails and meeting minutes more easily.
1. Think in English when writing
Generally, when writing something in a foreign language, we tend to formulate the sentence in our native language, and then try to translate it. However, this approach does not produce texts that sound natural (unless you are a translation expert).
Therefore, to improve English writing, we recommend that you think about your sentences in English. But how do you do it ? Imagine that an English speaker is in front of you, and wants to know the content of your mail right away. You don’t have time to go through the translation phase: you have to construct your sentences directly in English !
2. Read to improve your written English
Reading is an excellent way to learn the particularities of written English. By looking at what natives have written, you will be able to :
- familiarize yourself with sentence structures, from the simplest to the most complex ;
- discover new words ;
- assimilate grammar subconsciously ;
The idea is not to go through particularly complicated or scholarly texts, nor to make an in-depth analysis of the sentences. Just read what you like, as often as possible: newspapers, novels, comics, or even the 1to1PROGRESS articles in English 😉
3. Enrich your vocabulary
Reading English texts (see previous point) will indirectly help you to acquire new words. However, we advise you to go even further by actively enriching your vocabulary.
With over 170,000 words, English is a very rich language in terms of vocabulary. To make use of this richness in your writing, and to be more accurate, you will have to keep learning new words.
Focus on those that you really need, which often come up in your email exchanges with your customers or suppliers, for example. Once you have identified them, look up their synonyms, or even their antonyms in the Thesaurus (or any other good dictionary). You can then use these new words in future correspondence.
➡️To go further : How many words do you need to know to speak a language well?
4. Take a dictation
What ?! Like at school ?
No, don’t worry: the dictations we recommend have nothing to do with your memories of primary school.
In English, the same character (or set of characters) can be pronounced differently. Take the example of the letter ‘a’, which reads like a ‘short a’ [æ] in apple, but like an ‘o’ [ɔː] in ball. Dictations will therefore help you to make the link between the oral and written form of words, and thus prevent spelling mistakes.
In practice, we advise you to listen to podcasts or watch videos in English. When you hear an unfamiliar word, listen to the sentence again in slow motion and write it down at the same time. Then check in a dictionary if you have spelled the word correctly.
You will not only have revised the spelling of the word, but also used it in context.
💡 This article may also interest you: Identifying the difficulties in English to overcome them more effectively.
5. Proofread your texts (or have them proofread by an English speaker)
ETS Global, the organization that conducts the famous TOEIC English test, published a study in 2020 on the importance of mastering written English in a globalized work environment. It turns out that 83% of employers consider this skill to be “important” or even “very important”.
Also, sending a CV or cover letter to a recruiter in poor English can be particularly detrimental for you. To prevent your application from ending up in the “rejected” pile, always remember to proofread it.
Ideally, you should do this with a clear head and out loud, so that you can easily eliminate repetitions, wrong sentence structures or punctuation errors. If possible, ask an English speaker to take a look at your documents. He can advise you on the use of idioms or more suitable vocabulary.
By implementing these tips, you should improve your written English in a few weeks. Remember that written expression is only one component of language proficiency. To learn English effectively, the best thing is to engage the services of a professional trainer.