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How to write well in a language you're learning

by Rachel Summers

Good writing is essential for good communication, no matter what the language is. Writing well is always a challenge but when writing in a foreign language that you’re learning the challenge of fully understanding a new grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation become stressful and discouraging when you keep making mistakes.

You don't become fluent in a language overnight, and you won't be able to write well in that language overnight, but here you can find some helpful strategies to practice and improve your writing in the foreign language you’re learning:

Learn about the writing process

If you can't write well in your native language, you won’t write well in a foreign language. It’s crucial that you master the writing process first, regardless of the language. This isn't just about vocabulary and grammar, it's about knowing the structure, format, organization, and process of writing.

Read as much as you can

Reading in your foreign language is one of the best ways to become familiar with the language, learn new vocabulary and grammar. Reading as many different types of texts as possible - novels, newspaper articles, poetry, comics, manuals - is key to being able to write well in the foreign language you’re learning.

Learn your grammar

To write well in any language, you must first become familiar with the grammar of that particular language so that you can clearly express your ideas. However, you don't need to be an expert and you should not obsess too much over grammar initially. You should try writing at every stage of the language learning process and improve your grammar along the way. Make sure to write down, study, and practice your grammar skills as you learn them. To strengthen your language’s grammar skills you can take advantage of learning tools such as FluentU for great foreign language content.

Start with simple pieces

When you feel ready to start writing in your foreign language you should start with short and simple pieces. You can start by applying your grammar skills in short sentences, and work your way up to writing a short text focusing on one topic at a time. If you're looking for help with the writing you can use the Writing Cooperative site to get help and advice on how to improve your writing.

Have someone review your work

Another great way to improve your writing is to get a native speaker to review and edit your pieces and give you feedback. No matter how advanced you are in a foreign language, there are subtleties in the language that only a native speaker’s can get. If you don't know any native speakers, UK Services Reviews is a great tool for getting some help with your writing.

Create a journal

Writing a journal in the language you’re learning on a daily basis is one of the best ways to practice your writing skills. As with any skill, it is key is to practice as much as possible. You can also create your own phrasebook.

Be patient

Writing is often the most difficult skill to master when you’re learning a language. It's always important to remember that patience makes perfect and that it is inevitable that you will make mistakes. Try to look at the mistakes you make in a positive way and use them as a learning opportunity.

Anyone can improve their foreign writing skills and with the tips suggested and practice you’ll be able to let go of fears and progress until you have a piece of writing in the language you’re learning that you’re absolutely proud of.

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