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

    Make the right condition to be motivated. Play music. Go to a quiet place. Choose the right time. Write in the morning if your thoughts are clearest early in the day. Write in the afternoon or evening if you are not a morning person.

  2. Make an outline

    Don’t know how to get started? Write an outline. It will help you:

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

    Start by writing down your main ideas. Put supporting ideas and sub-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. That will add pressure. Make a first draft and improve it when you’re done. Write some parts in your native language if you don’t know the English words. Go back to it later. Don’t spend too much time on small details.

    Improve your piece as many times as possible (read: Tips when proofreading and editing your work). Ask for feedback from a friend or teacher. This will improve your writing. Remember these pointers for the next time you write.

  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 will motivate you to write. You will also get good feedback. Check your nearest library or the Millennium Library for free programs.
    • Pick a topic every day and write about it. Write about your new neighbourhood or your adjustment to Canada. Use descriptive words. Watch a TV show or a movie. Summarize it. Write about what you liked or did not like about the story.
    • Translate songs and poems from your native language. Get the lyrics of your favourite song and translate it to English. This will help you compare the two languages.
    • Get a writing buddy. Ask another newcomer to be your writing partner. Help each other by reading each other’s writing. Give each other feedback.
  5. Read more

    Reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. It’s also a great way to learn how to think in English.

    • Read different materials. Read books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, comic books, story books, etc. Go to the library. Use many free materials.
    • Read regularly. Read at least 30 minutes a day. Read slowly and understand each sentence. Read materials that are interesting to you so you will be motivated.
    • Pause and reflect. Look for the meaning of new words. Stop at each chapter or section. Write down what you learned.
    • Use audiobooks. Listen to an audio book if you’re busy. Listen while doing other things. You’ll improve your listening skills too!

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

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