English as a Second Language (ESL) students need to work harder than native English speakers in order to submit high-quality essays written professionally from scratch. This is simply because English is not their first language. While living and learning in a primarily English speaking environment can work towards developing one’s English speaking and writing skills, there are other steps one can take to further advance their writing skills. Below is a list of several tips to follow that will ensure writing improvements and success for ESL students.
1. Talk with English Speakers
The more time an ESL student spends speaking with native English speakers, the more experience they will have with English as a whole. If an ESL student has friends who mostly speak English, talking to them can help them to pick up the intricacies of the English language. This can also help an ESL student to learn how to better phrase their sentences, both while writing and speaking.
2. Write a Journal or Blog
Practicing writing in English without a prompt is one way to practice English writing skills. Writing for fun on a blog, or writing in a journal that no one else will see, help ESL students to practice their English writing without having the pressure that writing for a grade gives. Writing fiction stories can also be a fun way to practice writing without focusing on the grade you would receive.
3. Proofread Classmate’s Assignments
By proofreading your classmate’s assignment, you can see examples of how native English speakers write. By having this example, you will know how to better structure your own paper. This can also be helpful to see which mistakes others make. If you are making the same mistakes, you can learn to fix them together. If you make the same mistakes writing your homework as your native English speaking classmates, then you can ask your classmate to teach you how to avoid the mistake in the future.
4. Use Flashcards for Vocabulary
If you are struggling with understanding the meaning of advanced words, or if you commonly mistake one word for another, then try using flashcards. Write the English word on one side and write the word in your native language on the other side of the card. There are some digital ESL flashcards on Quizlet. On this site, you can also make your own digital flashcards.
5. Practice Spelling
Practicing your spelling is another great way to improve your writing. While most college essays are submitted digitally, spell check doesn’t catch all of the little mistakes. For example, the words “there,” “their,” and “they’re” are all pronounced the same way. Other words in the English language, like “god” and “dog” may be spelled similarly, but they have very different meanings. Learning the correct spellings of words is also a vital skill for when you need to write homework, rather than type it.
6. Read English Books
Reading in English more often can also help you learn to write in English, as you will learn how English essays and other pieces of literature are usually composed. You are already off to a great start just by reading this article! By reading things in English more often, you will become more accustomed to the language. If you are just starting out, you may want to read children’s books first, and then make your way up to adult novels as you learn to read English better.
7. Learn Synonyms and Antonyms
Synonyms are pairs of words that have basically the same meanings. Antonyms are words which have opposite meanings. By learning these, you will, in turn, learn more words. The more words you use, the more accurately you will be able to explain your thoughts and ideas. One great website to use to learn synonyms and antonyms is Thesaurus. Making flashcards of similar and opposite words may also help you to learn them faster.
8. Practice Writing Translations
Try translating literary works written in your native language into English. Since this will not be a formal assignment (as most college courses do not involve translation work), there will be less pressure to finish the task quickly. You will have time to look up meanings of words to make sure you are translating the document correctly. The more often you practice translating, the less often you will need to use dictionaries or other sources to reference words. It’s like they say, practice makes perfect.
9. Editing Old Works
By looking at your previous works, you can see how far you have come in learning how to write in English. By editing your works, you can also see which mistakes you used to make and which mistakes you are still making. Once you know which mistakes you have not grown out of, you can focus on advancing that skill, instead of focusing on writing techniques, spellings, and grammar that you have already mastered. This will both save time and help you grow as a writer.
10. Write Poetry
If you are looking for a challenge, you may want to try writing poetry in English. By writing poetry, you do not need to focus on grammar, but the way the words sound will require more focus. This is great practice for when you are still trying to master the sounds of words, spelling, and definitions. This is a great skill to have if you plan on taking creative writing classes.
In conclusion, the more you read, write or study examples of English writing, the better your own English writing skills are. By using the tips on this list, you are sure to grow as a writer. These tips will also work well no matter which the second language you are trying to practice. Work hard, and you are sure to become a successful writer.