Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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How to learn to write in english
1. Practice Writing in English Every Day
You should try to write in English every day. Repetition (doing the same thing over and over again) will really help you learn the skill of writing. Writing in English will be difficult at first, but if you write a little every day, it will start to get easier.
To make sure you never skip a day, use a system to track your progress. This could be writing it on your calendar, or using a site or app like Chains. It also helps to choose a specific time of day to sit down and write, which is our next tip.
You can also make use of techniques such as watching videos to keep you writing. For example, you can watch the following video from FluentU’s English YouTube channel and learn 50 common English verbs you can later use to write sample sentences:
FluentU English’s videos are the perfect companion to your writing practice. Subscribe to the channel, check out its videos and get ideas to keep writing your way to fluency!
2. Find the Best Time and Place to Write
Everyone has a best time of day to write. Maybe your head is the clearest in the morning. Maybe you’re a “night owl,” (someone who likes to stay up late) and you are most creative at midnight. Try writing at different times of the day to find out what time works best for you.
After you know when to write, you will also want to know where. Maybe you have trouble writing where there is a lot of noise. In that case, try writing in a quiet place like a library. Maybe you need a little background noise, and so you write best in a busy coffee shop. Experiment and see what works best for you.
If you need some background noise to write, you can use websites like Rainy Mood and Calm for relaxing background noise.
3. Have a Specific Place You Keep Your Writing
Find a notebook to keep all of your writing in. By keeping it all in one place, you will be able to look back on your writing and see how much progress you’ve made. You will also be able to go through all of your writing at once to see if you keep making the same mistakes.
If you like typing on a computer instead, you might consider using Evernote to keep your writing together. Evernote is a website (and smartphone app) that helps organize your life. You can keep all of your writing in Evernote. You can also keep track of your writing schedule with the website’s calendar.
Another fun place to keep your writing is on a blog. You can easily start a blog on Blogger or WordPress, and you can either make the blog private (so only you can see it) or public (others can read and comment).
4. Pick a Topic and Write
When you’re ready to start, choose a topic and then just start writing about it. If your topic is “fishing,” for example, it doesn’t matter if you write facts about fishing or a story about when you went fishing. Just start writing anything at all! Let your mind wander on the topic. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write the entire time. Once you get used to this, write for 10 minutes at a time.
The point of this writing exercise isn’t to write a perfect story. The purpose is to get your brain thinking in English, and to see how much you are able to say about your topic. If you can’t think of a topic, just start free writing. Free writing is when you put your pen on the paper and write everything that comes to your mind. It doesn’t matter if the ideas connect or not.
5. Keep a Journal in English
By keeping a personal journal (diary) in English, you will make sure you write every day. It is a great way to practice writing multiple tenses. You will write in the past tense about all of the things you did during the day, and you will write in the future tense about the things you are planning to do tomorrow, for example.
When you know that you will write in your journal every day, you will probably start to think in English more often during the day. That’s because as you do things, you might think about how to write about them in English.
6. Write More Than One Draft
The first draft (copy) that you write is not going to be perfect. Write one draft, and then go back and review it for mistakes. Remember the notebook where you’re keeping all your writing? When you look for mistakes, you should make a list of your common mistakes in that notebook. Then, when you edit your first draft, check for your most common mistakes.
You can also use sites like Hemingway Editor, Read-Able, Grammar Check or Reverso to check spelling and grammar—but remember, these programs cannot find all mistakes.
Once you have reviewed your writing, go back and write the entire thing again. When you rewrite it with the correct grammar, spellings and tenses, you will learn the corrections.
7. Have a Friend Edit Your Writing
Since you most likely won’t find all of your mistakes, have a friend who is fluent in English edit your writing. Having someone else look at your work will improve your writing and give you new, creative ideas for how to express ideas in English. They can edit the whole document or just a part that you’re having trouble with.
It’s good to get a second opinion on your writing. If you don’t know anyone who can edit your writing, use Lang-8. Lang-8 is a community of native speakers who will edit your writing for free.
If you want a more reliable way to have your writing corrected and are willing to pay for it, Editorr is a service that will edit a piece of writing within minutes. You can then compare the edited piece to your original one, and learn from it for the next time you write. Editorr has real, qualified editors working for them, so you can feel assured that the corrections you receive are accurate.
8. Keep an English Dictionary with You
When you hear or see a new word, look it up in your dictionary. Say the word a few times and write it down. Say it until it sounds familiar to your ear. The next time you write, try to write at least one sentence with each new word. When you find words that you really like or that seem important, highlight them in the dictionary (it’s okay—it’s your dictionary).
If you don’t want to keep a physical dictionary with you all the time, you can use online dictionaries like Merriam Webster or Dictionary.com. You can also use one of these dictionary apps for your smartphone.
9. Learn Synonyms and Antonyms
Whenever you look up a new vocabulary word in English, try to learn at least one word with the same meaning (this is a synonym), and one that has the opposite meaning (this is an antonym). For example, take the word “great.” Synonyms include “excellent” and “fantastic,” while antonyms are “plain,” “ordinary” and “bad.”
By learning more than one word for each concept, you will be able to communicate better with native speakers when you write. Here is a thesaurus, which is a dictionary full of synonyms and antonyms. Type in a word and the thesaurus will give you a list of synonyms in orange, and antonyms in grey. If you click the checkbox “Common,” it will only show synonyms and antonyms that are commonly used.
Visual Thesaurus is another great resource you can use. It’s a little different from a regular thesaurus, because it shows you the links between words in a visual format, with lines between related words. This allows you to explore new words in an easy, fun way, while still getting access to definitions and examples for context.
10. Make Flashcards
When you look up new words, their synonyms and their antonyms, make flashcards for them. On one side of the flashcard, write the word. On the other side, write the meaning, part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) and a sentence using that word. Review these flashcards often, and try to use the words in your own writing as often as possible.
But if you want to have the best flashcards in the world already done for you, you need to check FluentU out.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.Try FluentU for FREE!Each word you see on FluentU has its own interactive flashcard. FluentU’s flashcards include grammar info, pronunciation, a translation of the word, sample sentences and even a list of other videos where the word is being used. Give FluentU a free try and you’ll never want to use any other type of flashcard!
11. Read English Books out Loud
As I said earlier, reading and writing are connected, so reading more often in English will help you become a better writer. Start out with simple books. Write down any words that are new to you, and practice saying them. Work your way up to books like “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” These books are written for young adults and older adults, but the language is still quite simple.
Get a library card to access thousands of free books from your local library. You can also join websites like Audible and listen to any book you’d like. Your first book is free with Audible. After that, you will have to pay a small price for each book.
12. Translate Songs and Poems
Choose your favorite song, and translate the lyrics into English. Then, try singing it in English. You could even try to rewrite some of the lines in English to make them rhyme. You can do the same thing with poems you love. The words used in songs and poems will likely be very different from the words you see everyday in books, newspapers and even your journal.
By practicing songs, you’ll be able to practice writing, and you will also learn new ways to talk about concepts like love, faith, fear, rejection (being told “no”) and other topics usually addressed in music. Lyrics Translate is a really fun website that lets you choose an artist or song title and get translated lyrics form a huge selection of languages. Or, you can select the language and the website will give you a list of songs.
The most important part of all these tips is to write in English regularly. Learning to write in English is a learning process. You need to build your vocabulary, learn proper grammar and learn how to spell correctly.
The more often you practice your skills, the easier it will become. Have fun writing!
Even after you’ve studied the theories of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, connecting everything together to speak English naturally can be really difficult. At first, conversations will involve huge pauses while you consider how to get your thoughts across. Conjugate the verb in the correct tense, search for relevant vocabulary, then think through the word order… it’s pretty exhausting!
If you need a way of practicing your English production skills at a slower pace, and without any risk of sounding silly to a fluent speaker. You need to start writing! Without the pressure of live conversation, there’s time to look up words and rules if you need to. You can also practice writing without a conversation partner.
The four language skills bleed into each other a lot, but writing and speaking are especially tied, since they involve output. Use this to your advantage, and get practice doing the “thinking” that goes into speaking English with confidence. On that note…
Writing helps you think in English
Wish you could think in English? Writing is a great way to get started! If you’re forming English sentences to write on a page, you are thinking in English, and the more you practice, the more natural it will become.
Try keeping a journal or diary in English, even if it’s just a few lines per day. Entries might be as simple as: “I woke up late, and felt quite stressed because I missed the bus to work.” Writing about your feelings and daily activities can help the language feel closer to your own experience. You’ll spot any gaps in your vocabulary that might hold you back from discussing the things that matter to you. You’ll also get valuable practice forming everyday sentences. The more you interact with English through the lens of your own life, the easier it will be to stop mentally translating new words into your own language before understanding them. It’s a great tip for achieving the magical moment when everything starts to feel natural!
Writing helps you make friends!
When a language teacher tells you to “develop your writing skills,” you might think of academic writing: essays, homework and formal assignments. But for most of us, the majority of the writing we do day-to-day is informal. We send texts, social media messages, and emails so often, and with such little thought, that we don’t really think of them as “writing” at all. However, nowadays, this is one of the most essential communications for making friends (and keeping them!). Casual messenger conversations are increasingly used in business too through platforms like Slack.
If you master the basics of writing in English, you can quickly open up your social circle to include more English speakers by regularly hanging out in forums, comments sections, and on messenger apps. The more English-speaking connections you make, the more practice you’ll get, and the more you’ll be motivated to reach your learning goals!
Writing is essential for life in an English-speaking society
The main reason to invest time in your writing skills is because you’ll need them in daily life. If you’re applying for a job in an English-speaking country, filling out a visa application, or just emailing the owner of a holiday home, writing skills are just as crucial as your other competencies, so it’s good to keep them developing at the same pace.
Writing is difficult!
Many learners don’t invest time in their writing skills, and find writing in a second language challenging. Firstly, like when speaking, you must produce the language yourself, rather than just responding to it. Secondly, errors are far more noticeable in writing than in speaking, since there is visual evidence! Even very advanced speakers of English regularly make small mistakes in their writing, confuse their spelling, and use unnatural or awkward phrases.
Don’t let this put you off! Forgetting about writing in English is a mistake that many learners make, but you can easily avoid it. After all, it’s an easy skill to practice on your own, and an easy one to ask for corrections on. You can use a spell-checking software, or submit sentences to Preply’s Q&A section for our expert tutors to review.
Preply was developed because 1-on-1 language tutoring sessions are super effective.
This makes it significantly easier when students have to use what they have learned in real-life conversations. Ready to try it out?English tutorsGet 50% off your first lesson
6 ways to improve your English writing skills
Working on your writing skills might sound difficult but it’s actually one of the easiest language competencies to practice on your own. Try out these tips, and you’ll see improvements fast!
Use chat-based language exchange apps
Language exchange apps are a fun way to get a lot of writing practice. As you might already know, language exchanges are when you buddy up with a fluent English speaker who wants to learn your native language, and try to teach each other. You decide how long you want to chat, and then spend half the time speaking in your native language (for them to practice) and half the time speaking in English (for you to practice). The concept used to be centered around speaking, but most of the top language exchange apps are now based around sending text messages. Some, like Tandem, even have a feature that allows writers to “correct” other users’ texts.
If you are learning English for business purposes, texting might not seem like the ideal kind of practice. However, language exchange apps can still be really useful. The written English of online chats is more informal and closer to spoken English than English you would typically find in a letter or professional email. Messenger apps also offer the opportunity for real-time feedback from a conversation partner, meaning you can make mistakes and learn from them at a fast pace!
Practice every day
As with every language skill — and almost every skill in general — the key to mastering English writing is practice! Make a commitment to write something in English every day. It doesn’t have to be long. Every kind of writing counts towards this target: a comment on a YouTube video, a few lines in a journal, a text to a friend, a business email, or a college essay. With consistent practice, writing will start to feel easier very quickly.
Study different writing formats
If you want to spend time in an English-speaking environment, you’ll need to learn how to write different kinds of documents. Practicing informal writing by using forums and chat apps will help you when it comes to making new friends. Practicing writing used in more formal situations will also come in useful at some point, especially if you are learning English to get ahead in your career.
Luckily, it’s easy to practice writing documents such as CVs and business emails. Formal documents like these follow strict conventions, so it is often possible to rely on a template, or adapt what you need to say from a list of common phrases.
Read as much as you can
Reading a lot of English is the best shortcut to improving your writing! For best results, try reading the kind of text that you need to write yourself. Writing mostly messages to your friends? Read comment sections, social media posts and memes. Writing emails for work? Subscribe to some mailing lists from companies in your industry. Writing your CV? Read some templates, and some profiles on LinkedIn. This way, you’ll get a feel for which words sound most natural in the context you’re working in, and learn how to use common phrases.
Try some translations
Translating your favorite song lyrics, poems or quotes into English can be a rewarding exercise. Firstly, you’ll be working with material you like, which means you will be motivated to spend time making it the best it can be. Secondly, it will help you start thinking in English. You’ll notice that not many sentences translate directly between two languages, and you’ll start to think creatively about how to convey the same meaning with a different set of tools. This can help boost your fluency, encouraging you to “think” in English.
Use a spellchecker
If you’re writing on a digital device, spell check software is fantastic. Everyone makes typos and grammar mistakes from time to time — even professional writers use it! If you’re writing online, Grammarly is a great English-language plugin that can spot small errors when you type in any online application or document. If you write a lot on your phone, add English as a language in the settings, so that your words are automatically corrected there, too. Of course, no robot can identify mistakes 100% of the time, but these tools can boost the clarity of your writing. They will also show you where you need to improve.
Ask a native speaker to edit your work
If you’re writing anything important in English, the surest way to get it correct is to ask an English speaker to proofread it before sending it anywhere. Better yet, ask two English speakers to proofread it. Even if you are a very advanced ESL learner, there are likely to be one or two clauses that could be rephrased to sound more natural. It’s also very easy to confuse or leave out articles in English.
If you want your writing checked by a professional, book a lesson with a Preply tutor. They will be very happy to go over it with you, and discuss any mistakes, readability issues, or doubts you might have.