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How Can You Improve Your Written English Skills as an ESOL Learner?

By Joseph, published on 25/07/2017 Blog > Languages > ESOL (English) > ESOL Writing: How to Improve your Writing Skills
Contents
  • Read Newspapers in English
  • Read English Novels
  • Watch Films and Series in English
  • Learn English Linking Words
  • Enrich Your English Vocabulary
  • Force Yourself to Write English
  • Improve Your Spelling with Dictionaries

Almost everyone learns English at school (whether primary or secondary). Whether English grammar or written and spoken English, learning English at school tends to be at a fairly low level. In fact, language learning around the world has put so many students off for so many years.

It’d be better for everyone to learn the English language in a more natural way but this is rarely the case. There are far too many dull classes with students repeating conjugations like robots and learning expressions that you’ll never use in real life!

How Can You Get Better at English and Improve Your Writing?

Read Newspapers in English

This is one of the best ways to learn English when your English is still very basic. As we said before, it’s unlikely that your English lessons at school have helped you get any better at writing. However, reading English-language newspapers will improve your English writing skills.

Why’s that?

This is basically because the writing in newspapers is a mix of literary, journalistic, and business English. The vocabulary is varied and rich and the pieces use English for native English speakers. You’ll come across a better variety of English expressions than you would at school. You’ve got nothing to lose. You may as well give it a go if you want your written English to get better. Don’t get put off if you find it a bit difficult at the start.

Which English newspapers should I read? Reading the news can improve your English and your knowledge of current affairs. (Source: Ultimate Food App)

Start with more accessible newspapers or simplified news. There are plenty of English-language newspapers and magazines available all over the world and there are even newspapers and magazines that are designed specifically for those learning the language, too!

When you first start reading, choose lighter subjects (like gossip magazines, sports, hobbies, or cinema, for example) which use a simpler vocabulary including words you’ll have already learnt during your classes at school.

Nowadays you don’t even need to technically buy the paper copy, you can read most articles online. The international press features plenty of different articles and topics and now you can use them to learn English online.

Read English Novels

You can benefit from reading novels or books in English even if you’re not a big reader. It’s not the same as having to read a book in school as part of your English course. You can choose the book and read it at your own pace during a long journey, for example.

Could you learn English with a book you love?

Take Harry Potter, for example. There are 7 books to read and millions of people around the world have loved reading them. If you weren’t a native English speaker it was annoying when the new books came out. The whole world was talking about it while you waited for your translation of the book to come out.

However, plenty of people at the time decided to solve this problem by just reading the English version even though it was in their second language. This meant they didn’t have to wait and got to improve their English. In addition to finding out what happens in the story, anyone who reads a book in another language will learn new words and expressions.

Forget what you learnt during your English lessons and discover the magic of literature. It needn’t be Harry Potter. You can head down a bilingual path with any book you like! You can even read the English version of a book you’ve already read. This is a great way to help you focus on the language rather than getting bogged down with the details of the story.

Watch Films and Series in English

If you want to improve your English, you have to have fun! In recent years, American series have been getting more and more popular around the world and platforms like Netflix are bringing them into everyone’s living rooms.

There are plenty of English-language series that anyone can watch whenever they want. If you have several hours free, you can spend all afternoon or evening watching them. It’s up to you.

However, the worst thing you could do for your English is wait for the dubs and watch the series in your own language. This won’t help your English at all! If it’s too difficult, you can make life easier for yourself by watching the original version with subtitles in your language.

This helps you train your ear while listening to English pronunciation and read the subtitles so you can see how the language is written. This also works with films.

Learn English Linking Words

If you want to improve your written English, you’ll need to be able to put your thoughts into words and express them clearly.

There are fewer when speaking English than when writing English. Written English tends to use what we would call “formal English”.

You usually have to use formal English and follow stricter grammar rules. Furthermore, you’ll need to avoid colloquial vocabulary, use richer expressions, different phrases, and certain stylistic elements.

Which English linking words should I use? English linking words are very useful! (Source: Teen Problem)

However, before you start editing The Times, you’ll need to learn the fundamentals of writing and Speaking English fluently. This includes a complex understanding of linkers.

Every learner needs to know these if they want to get anywhere near fluency. Are you familiar with words like “then”, “nevertheless”, “therefore”, “thus”, “furthermore”, etc?

There’s a lot of them and you should certainly spend the time to get to know most of them. This will help you to better structure your texts and emails in the future as well as be better understood by your English-speaking peers.

Finally, don’t forget to dust off your old English textbooks and brush up on the basics!

Once you’re back up to speed, you’ll need to give yourself a mini English test!

Enrich Your English Vocabulary

You can’t improve your writing in English if you keep using the same expressions and words again and again and again! You can’t write everything using the same five verbs, either. When it comes to writing English, variety is the spice of life.

So what can you do? Where do you begin? You should focus on improving your English vocabulary and giving yourself the tools you’ll need to express yourself clearly.

How can I improve my English vocabulary? You’ll never be good at English without a good vocabulary. (Source: Haiku Deck)

There are plenty of ways to do this! You should practise around a dozen new words every day. If that’s too much, try and aim for 10. This isn’t a big ask. You can find a time during the day while you’re doing something else to practise this. Why not practise your words while you’re chopping vegetables for dinner or while in the shower?

In the mornings, you should start each day going back over the previous day’s vocabulary to make sure you remember everything.

It’s a very basic method but it’s also very effective when it comes to enriching your vocabulary.

Force Yourself to Write English

This isn’t like your traditional writing exams at school. This is for your own professional or personal development. It might be hugely important for you to be able to write well. What approach should you take? Superprof.co.uk has a few ideas.

Surely jumping straight into the water is the best way to learn to swim, isn’t it? Nevertheless, you should force yourself to write!

Knowing to speak in English isn’t the same as writing in it. You need to learn to write in a coherent fashion.

Written English is a different beast (like writing in any language, in fact). If it’s looking like your writing in English is going to hold you back, you should probably pick up a pen and get writing.

You’ll start by making mistakes. However, once you start making a note of your mistakes, you’ll get better, especially once your vocabulary and grammar get better. Your writing will also get better as you start implementing your linkers. Get to it!

Improve Your Spelling with Dictionaries

Thanks to auto-correct, nobody can spell. We rely on it too much. This is happening all over the world, not just in English.

You might think everyone learnt how to spell in school but it looks like we’ve all forgotten how to. Spelling mistakes can severely harm your chances when it comes to getting jobs. Between two identical candidates, an employer will always choose the one who managed to spell words correctly.

Where can I get a good English dictionary? A good dictionary is a valuable tool. (Source: Found Poetry Review)

If you’re wanting to improve your written English, you’ll have to make sure you know how to spell all the words and expressions you’re going to use. The best way to improve your spelling is my using the advice we mentioned before (reading newspapers, websites, novels, and watching films in English).

You should also invest in a dictionary. You can also use search engines to help you and online dictionaries. There are also bilingual dictionaries you can check.

Now you’ve started to learn English, be sure to test your level with with Quizzes or take a formal ESOL exam such as TOEFL & IELTS.

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