7 Ways to Improve Your English Writing
We’re getting more and more interest in English writing classes from our students, which is why we’ve added them as a special class now (learn more here). I think the reasons are clear. Most of our students really need to use their English to communicate important information. Our students are doctors, lawyers, engineers and executives. They need to be understood clearly, and they need to project a good image when they communicate. No matter how great your idea is, if it arrives in an email that is impossible to read and understand, it’s not going to be very effective.
So, besides taking our English writing classes, what can you do to improve? The first thing I’ll say is, if you want to learn to play the piano, you don’t spend weeks and weeks reading books about playing the piano. You sit down at the piano and start playing, even if it’s not very good. Same goes for improving your English writing. Above all, to improve, you need to write.
How can you improve your English writing?
1. Quora Can Help You Improve Your English Writing.
Have you heard of Quora? It’s sort of like a social network. I know, you’re probably tired of new social networks, but this one is quite different. People post questions or answer questions, and others vote on the best answers. That probably still doesn’t sound like much fun, but check out the answers to this question, How Can I Learn As Much As Possible In My Life? Cool answers from interesting people, right?
So, why is this a good place for you to learn English? Well, one feature of Quora is that anyone can edit anyone else’s writing. So you can do your best to write a question or answer in English, and other users will edit your answer. You will get to see the answers. My experience is that people love editing on Quora, and do a really good job of it. You can find me on Quora here.
2. Write, Revise, Repeat is the key to improving your English writing.
Not ready to share your writing with the public? Then just write anyway. Start with a short paragraph. Write it down, then read it back to yourself out loud. Make changes. Come back to it over and over, until you don’t think you can make any more improvements. Then, if you’re ready, see if you can get someone else to read it and offer improvements. I recommend using Google Docs for this, because you can track all the changes easily, and share it with others who can make comments for you.
3. Copy other Writers to learn English writing style and structure.
The late great American writer Hunter S. Thompson did something very interesting when he was learning how to write. He retyped entire novels, including The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms. Most of us probably don’t have time to do this – indeed, Thompson was fired from the magazine where he spent his time doing this. But you probably do have the time to retype a short article in English. Try it. It’s a great way to closely examine how the language is written.
4. Write and Improve
Write and Improve is a web application by Cambridge English that allows you to submit writing and get automated, near instant feedback about how you can improve, and level ratings on your writing. It is still in beta mode, and I don’t think it’s a substitute for having a real person read you writing, but it’s certainly a good way to get free practice. Check it out here.
5. Get help from Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, writer to come from the United States. He was known for an efficient and clear writing style – writing that conveyed big ideas with few words, and was easy to understand. Unfortunately, he’s not alive to help you write better, and even if he was, he wouldn’t have the time to help you. But the Hemingway App is here. It’s a web and mobile app similar to Write and Improve, that evaluates your writing and tries to help you write in the efficient and clear style of Hemingway. It’s been badly criticized, but I think it’s still a fun tool that will get you writing.
6. Read, Read, Read
Ok, to learn piano, you don’t want to read about it. But you will want to listen to others play the piano. I always wrote well in school, despite not paying any attention in my English grammar classes. I believe this was because I loved to read, and did a lot of it. And I’m not the only one who thinks reading improves writing. Novelist Steven King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Numerous studies support what Steven King and I both know.
7. Make some Comments
We offer free English listening exercises on our website. The exercises usually have a writing component, and if you do the exercise in comments, one of our teachers will make corrections for you. Here!
I had to add this one after a Quora user suggested it. Daily Themes is a site that allows you to complete short, simple writing exercises, and have them evaluated by others online. It is similar to Quora in the way that you build points for participating. I tested it out, and it seems like a fun way to improve your writing, and probably more useful than the Hemingway App.
Ok, that’s all for now. Want to work with us to improve your English writing? Click here.