5 more activities to help you write well in English

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Writing an email, cover letter, report, or an essay? Here are a few tips to write better:

  1. Get inspired

    Create the most ideal conditions for yourself. Play soft music or go to a quiet place. Choose the right time. Write in the morning if your thoughts are clearest early in the day or in the afternoon if you are not a morning person.

  2. Make an outline

    Don’t know where to start? Write an outline. It will help you:

    • organize your ideas
    • train your brain to think clearly
    • include all your ideas in your write-up
    • see how your work will look like without the details

    Write down your main ideas then put supporting ideas under each. Remember that your outline is only a guide. You can add or subtract items while writing. See an example here: Basic outlining.

  3. Write several drafts

    Don’t expect your first draft to be perfect. Don’t spend too much time on small details. You can even write some parts in your native language if you don’t know the English words. Go back to it later and edit.

    Improve your piece as many times as possible (read: Tips when proofreading and editing your work). Ask for feedback from a friend or teacher to make your work better.

  4. Write regularly

    Practice often to improve your writing skills. Here are few ideas:

    • Join a writers group, book club or an EAL class. It can motivate you to write. You will also get good feedback. Check your nearest library or the Millennium Library for free programs. You could also join our Reading Club and Writing Workshops.
    • Pick a topic every day and write about it. Write about your new neighbourhood or your adjustment to Canada. Use descriptive words. Or watch a TV show or a movie and summarize it. Write about what you liked or did not like and suggest improvements.
    • Get songs and poems in your native language and translate them to English. It will make you compare the two languages and boost your vocabulary.
    • Get a writing buddy. Ask another newcomer to be your writing partner. Help each other by reading each other’s work and giving feedback.
  5. Read more

    Reading is the best way to improve your writing skills. You learn new words and how to use them correctly. It’s also a great way to practice thinking in English.

    • Read different materials. Read books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, comic books, story books and others. This way you won’t be bored. You’ll also see different styles of writing. Use many free materials in the library or online.
    • Read regularly. Read at least 30 minutes a day. Read slowly and understand each sentence. Get materials that are interesting to you so you will be motivated to read.
    • Pause and reflect. Look for the meaning of new words. Stop at each chapter or section. Write down what you learned.
    • Use audio books. Listen to an audio book if you’re busy. You can listen while doing other things. It will improve your listening skills too!

Article updated May, 2020.
Source: How to become a better writer in your second language, Pamela Pan, The Writing Cooperative. Retrieved September 25, 2018.

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