Even when you know a lot of English words, it can be really hard to form good sentences and write well. But when you put these strategies into practice, you’ll be able to improve so that you can write confidently in English.
Writing Tip #1 – Understand the different types of writing
Writing a report for work is very different from writing a short story, and writing an academic essay is different from writing casual e-mails to friends.
We use different phrases, different vocabulary, and different organization for different types of writing.
So it’s important to know specifically what type of writing you need or want to do, so you can learn the things that will help you improve that particular kind of writing.
Writing Tip #2 – Spend more time reading
When you know what type of writing you want to focus on, the next step is to spend time reading, especially reading examples of that type of writing.
Let’s say you want to improve your ability to write business e-mails, for example – search online for examples of business e-mails, and pay attention to the words and phrases in the e-mails you receive from co-workers.
Or if you need to write academic essays, then read a lot of essays. If you want to do creative writing, then read short stories and books in English.
When you read more, you’ll naturally learn the writing style and the types of vocabulary and expressions used in that type of text, and then you’ll be able to use these in your own writing.
Writing Tip #3 – Organize your ideas BEFORE you start writing
Before you begin writing, one thing that will help a lot is organizing your ideas and putting them in a logical order. When writing is organized, it communicates much more clearly. But when the ideas are disorganized, then other people will have trouble understanding what your writing is trying to say.
So just make a simple list of the main ideas you want to communicate. Then you can see if anything is missing or anything is out of order. You can expand your list by adding some additional information under each main point.
You don’t need to write full sentences here, just short words or phrases. The goal is to organize your POINTS and the SUPPORTING INFORMATION, and then you can expand these into sentences later when you actually start writing the text.
Organizing your ideas into a list or an outline will help your text be clearer and it’ll also help your writing process because you’ll know exactly what to write about in the next sentence.
Writing Tip #4 – Focus on clarity, not on “big” words/sentences
Sometimes English learners make the mistake of thinking that big words or long sentences will make their writing seem more advanced, but the result is that they use words incorrectly and write confusing sentences.
It’s important for writing to be CLEAR, so you should always use the words that will most directly and accurately communicate the concept.
As for sentences, they can be long or short, but a good rule to remember is 1-2 ideas per sentence. If you’re trying to put 3, 4, 5 or more ideas into one sentence, then the sentence will become too long and confusing.
Writing Tip #5 – Learn linking words to make connections between ideas
If you followed the tip about organizing your main points, then your ideas will be in a logical order. But it’s also important to learn the linking words to show the connections between those ideas.
These are words like…
- therefore to introduce a logical result
- however to introduce a contrast or opposing point
- moreover or in addition to introduce additional information
- in summary to introduce a quick review of your main idea
This way, someone who is reading your writing will easily be able to follow the flow and sequence of your ideas, and understand your text.
Writing Tip #6 – Practice a little bit every day & revise it the next day
It’s good to read, and it’s good to learn about writing, but you also need to practice writing, to do it yourself.
So make sure to practice even when you don’t “need” to, even when you don’t have an assignment or report on your to-do list. Try to get into the habit of writing a paragraph or two per day, because the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Another thing that really helps is always to look at your writing again the next day. So you write something, you go to sleep, wake up, and read it over the following day. Letting a bit of time pass can help you see any errors or changes you’d like to make.
Writing Tip #7 – Use spelling and grammar checks
For a quick check to see if your spelling and grammar are correct, you can use the built-in tools in Microsoft Word, or a free online tool like Grammarly.com – this is great for finding and fixing any major mistakes.
When you check for these mistakes and correct them, you can learn – so you won’t make similar mistakes in the future.
Writing Tip #8 – Get correction from a native speaker
The automatic grammar checkers are a good start, but you’ll get much better feedback from a person – a native English speaker, and especially an English teacher, who is trained to find mistakes and also explain how and why to correct them.
A native speaker and a teacher can not only find and fix mistakes, but also give you feedback on the overall clarity and organization of your writing, the flow of ideas, and whether any words or phrases could be made stronger or more natural.
This type of evaluation and feedback is really helpful and valuable for improving your writing.
Get your writing corrected inside our courses
At Espresso English, we have two courses where you can get your writing evaluated.
Our Advanced Grammar Course and our Reading Course both have the option to include writing tasks with teacher feedback – so at the end of each lesson, there’s a question or topic and you’ll write your response. Then, send it to our teaching team, and we’ll reply with comments, corrections, and suggestions for making your writing even better.
Students LOVE this part of the course, because the feedback helps you fix any mistakes or bad habits and just bring your writing up to a higher level. If you’re serious about improving your writing, join those courses and select the version with teacher feedback.
I hope you’ll put all 8 tips from this lesson into practice!