Free online tools to try today to help improve your writing

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a writing coach who is at your beck and call?

Need to find the exact word? Just give your teacher a nudge. Or if you need someone to take a quick look at your report, letter or email message, your teacher will be right on the case.

Did you know that there are online tools that could do just that? These websites and apps are there whenever and wherever we need them. With just a few keystrokes, these tools can help improve your writing. They’re the next best thing to having a language teacher beside you. What’s more, most of them are free!

These are some of the tools and resources you can try:

  1. Resources of the Language Portal of Canada

    Where do I start? This portal has writing tools, quizzes and links to improve your English (and French and other languages). It is a one-stop-shop for improving your language skills.

    Have a language question? Use the Language Navigator. It is a search engine that looks up various online resources that could answer whatever linguistic mystery that’s bothering you. Termium Plus® is a linguistic data bank that helps you find the right words (terminology) in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. You can also explore a collection of writing tools, answer quizzes, read Canadian language news and The Our Language blog. The portal also has glossaries and dictionaries, links to blogs, links to courses, and so many others.

    The vast amount of great materials can be overwhelming. A virtual tour is recommended to help you navigate the site.

  2. poster of services available at the Language Portal of Canada

  3. Tools to improve your reading habits

    The best way to improve your vocabulary and grammar, learn proper sentence structure, tone and style is to read. These tools can help you build good reading habits by providing reading lists or by suggesting books you could read next depending on your interests. Meanwhile, Novelguide summarizes books by chapter and provides literary analysis to give you a better understanding of classical and contemporary literature.

  4. Novelguide

  5. Vocabulary & grammar builders

    Get tips, quizzes, exercises, articles – all the resources you need to boost your vocabulary and improve your grammar. Don’t know the precise word to use? Search it up! Having problems with tenses, plural forms, punctuation or idioms? These resources will help you understand them and evaluate what you learned through quizzes and other activities. The best thing about these tools is that they are easy and fun to use.

  6. Merriam-Webster
    Daily writing tips
    Grammar girl
    Reverse dictionary

  7. Editing tools

    Need someone to check what you wrote? These tools check your spelling, grammar and word choice as well as provide suggestions to improve your manuscript. For Grammarly and Ginger, you’ll have to download and add them to Chrome. For Grammarcheck, just paste your text onto their page and you’ll get an analysis. However, you will need to sign-up for the deep check which will detect more difficult-to-spot mistakes.

  8. Grammarly
    Ginger app
    Grammar check

  9. Readability tools

    After the editing tools on number 4, you may want to run your text through these readability tools. These count your words, evaluate sentence structures and the types of words you used to gauge whether what you wrote is easy to understand, precise, and engaging. Aztekera even makes sure that you use the active voice. These resources will also provide suggestions on how you could improve your manuscript.

  10. Gunning Fog index
    Word Counter

A bonus: Do you want to optimize your resume keywords and compare them with the job description of a job you’re applying to? Use Jobscan. It provides detailed pointers on how you can improve your resume to boost your chances of getting an interview. The free account option allows up to five scans per month.

Sources: 10 online tools to improve your English writing skills, The European Mama; 10 tools to help you improve your writing skills, Sam Berkhead; and 11 best websites to improve writing skills in English, Srikanth AN, Shout Me Loud. All accessed March 5, 2018.

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Community Resources

Want to have a productive lunch break? Learn our weekly language tip of the week by joining Lunch & Learn every Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:00 noon over Skype. Check out the topics via the link.

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