10 Ways To Improve Your English Writing Skills: 15 Min A Day

It’s not easy lớn write well, và writing well can sometimes seem unimportant. After all, we live in an era of smartphones, và voicemail, & Instagram. If you don’t enjoy writing, there are many other ways to communicate, ways that don’t even require words. Videos, photos, and emojis can express quite a lot.

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However, if your goal is to graduate university, become a successful entrepreneur, or get a better job, writing is still an essential skill lớn learn. It shows your ability to think clearly, and can persuade people—to buy your product, to fund your research, khổng lồ consider you for a position in their company.

Learning to write well is not easy, but the good news is that there are many ways to improve your writing skills online, from home, and for free.

Below are five methods I typically recommend khổng lồ my English students.

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1. Read và analyze high-quality writing.

This is the oldest method, và still the best, lớn improve your writing. It’s how Shakespeare và all other great writers of the past learned how lớn write.

When I say ‘good writing’ though, I mean simply writing that has been reviewed và cleaned up by professional editors. You can find this kind of writing in newspapers, magazines, và books – these are the best materials lớn read.

By contrast, a lot of writing online (blogs, message boards, Facebook posts) is poorly edited, và often includes misused words, grammar mistakes, and non-standard punctuation. Learning how to write in English with these sources is risky, because you may learn a lot of bad habits.

That said, there is also a lot of excellent writing on the web, available for free.

Websites with Good Writing

There are millions of websites out there, about all types of topics. This is just a short danh mục of interesting English-language sites that are suitable for intermediate & advanced English learners:

Speaking of vocabulary:

Learn New Vocabulary with Google Dictionary

Part of becoming a better writer is learning new words. Lots of new words. So, while reading, you should be looking for words và phrases that could be useful when writing about the topics that interest you.

A great free tool for this purpose is Google Dictionary, which allows you to quickly check the translation of any word. You can also listen lớn pronunciation, and add the word khổng lồ your own personal phrasebook for later study.

WikiHow offers detailed instructions on how khổng lồ install Google Dictionary in the Chrome website browser.

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2. Find a writing partner (or join a community).

To become a better writer, it’s not enough lớn simply learn a lot of words. You need to lớn practice using them. Along with khổng lồ reading a lot, you need to lớn write a lot.

Obviously, there are many ways to bởi this: Write every day in a diary. Create your own blog. Nội dung your thoughts on Facebook. Et cetera.

You’ll improve your writing faster, however, if you nói qua your writing in places that are designed khổng lồ give you feedback, either from native English speakers or from fellow student-writers. Here are three options khổng lồ consider:

Virtual Language Exchanges (HelloTalk)

I’m sure you already know about the concept of a language exchange.

It’s typically a way to practice your speaking skills, but it can also be a good way to practice your writing skills (especially because, in my experience, it’s difficult to lớn arrange a time and place to meet và chat; in a text-based language exchange, time & place don’t matter).

A great app for this purpose is HelloTalk, which offers several different ways lớn practice your speaking and writing skills, with language learners all around the world. One of the best features of their app is the ability to lớn edit your language partner’s messages, as shown in the video clip below:

SMS language exchanges can be a great way khổng lồ practice using the words you want khổng lồ learn, or khổng lồ ask native speakers about difficult phrases you’ve come across while reading.

Online Message Boards (Reddit)

If you want feedback about something you are writing longer than a few sentences (e.g. An email, an IELTS essay, a blog post, a story), online message boards are a good place to share your draft.

On big message boards like Reddit, you can usually find hundreds of native speakers who are willing khổng lồ read your writing and give you free advice. Three groups to kiểm tra out are:

Local Writing Groups (Meetup)

Last but not least, you should consider joining a writing group in your đô thị or near your home. Meetup is a great website for this purpose, because you can tìm kiếm your area by topic and by date.

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Photo by Dylan Gillis

In contrast to lớn phone apps or message boards, the advantage of an in-person writing group is that you can (1) practice your English speaking as well as writing skills & (2) make friends with other writers–which is the best way khổng lồ stay motivated toward your goal of becoming a better writer.

If you can’t find a writing group in your area that fits your specific writing interests, the solution is simple: create your own group on Meetup.

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3. Take a free writing course online.

There’s a lot to lớn think about when writing—things like Spelling, Punctuation, Organization, Logic, và Style. These aspects of language are not so important when speaking (especially in conversational speech), but they become very important when writing (especially if you want to lớn make a good impression).

So, one of the best ways khổng lồ improve your writing fast is khổng lồ take an online course. A lot of universities offer writing lessons for new students, và they have made these lessons available online khổng lồ anyone, for free.

Below is a danh sách of the most helpful, và best quality, courses I’ve found:

Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drainPut a pencil to his temple, connected it khổng lồ his brainAnd he wrote his first refrain, a testament to lớn his pain.~ from ‘Alexander Hamilton’ by Lin-Manuel Miranda

4. Learn how khổng lồ identify bad writing.

Nowadays, when most writing applications offer Autocorrect and Grammar check features, you might expect ‘bad writing’ to have gone extinct. Yet plenty of bad writing still exists, because there are a lot of ways khổng lồ write badly—even if your spelling and punctuation are perfectly correct. For example:

The northern United States và Canada are places where herons live và breed. Spending the winter here has its advantages. Great blue Herons live & breed in most of the United States. It’s an advantage for herons lớn avoid the dangers of migration. Herons head south when the cold weather arrives. The earliest herons to lớn arrive on the breeding grounds have an advantage. The winters are relatively mild in Cape Cod.

Harvard professor Steven Pinker offers this example of bad writing in his book The Sense of Style. Can you identify the problems in it? The grammar, spelling, and punctuation are all correct, so what’s wrong? (Read it again and try to lớn identify the problems, then see Professor Pinker’s explanation.)

Concerning the problem of bad writing more generally, Prof. Pinker writes:

So many things can go wrong in a passage of prose. The writing can be bloated, self-conscious, academic... The passage can be cryptic, abstruse, arcane... The syntax can be defective, convoluted, ambiguous... Even if every sentence in a text is crisp, lucid, & well formed, a succession of them can feel choppy, disjointed, unfocused—in a word, incoherent... We don’t know why one clause follows another...

To better understand all of the writing problems he mentions above, I highly recommend reading Pinker’s book. In 300 pages, he carefully explains each way that writers (even highly educated ones) can make mistakes. I’ve read his book three times, và I notice improvements in my writing after each time I do. It’s lượt thích an entire Harvard writing course, packed into a book.

However, if you can’t afford khổng lồ buy the book, you can still practice this simple exercise: When you come lớn something that is confusing to read, stop và try lớn identify what the problem is. Ask yourself these questions about each sentence:

Questions to lớn Ask of Confusing Writing

Is it clear what the sentence is about? (e.g. Is the topic ‘Great blue Herons’ specifically, or ‘herons’ in general?) Is it clear why the writer wants to lớn explore this topic? (i.e. What is the point the writer is trying lớn make here?) Is it clear how each sentence relates to the others? (i.e. Does this sentence provide a clarification, a counterpoint, a reason, an example?) Is it clear how each word relates khổng lồ the others? (Look especially at words like ‘it’ and ‘they’.)

You can vì this exercise with any text you read, but you should also bởi vì it with your own writing. Put yourself in the shoes of your target Readers, and try to lớn read your text from their perspective.

Your ability to identify bad writing also makes you a more valuable writing partner. If your feedback isn’t more helpful than a Grammar Checker program, your text-based language exchange won’t much benefit your partner.

Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the size or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to mở cửa doors và invite in prophecies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own. Scientists too, as J. Robert Oppenheimer once remarked, “live always at the ‘edge of mystery’ — the boundary of the unknown.” But they transform the unknown into the known, haul it in lượt thích fishermen; artists get you out into that dark sea.

This paragraph comes from an essay by Rebecca Solnit, which I’ve written about in another blogpost about techniques you can’t learn from writing courses, techniques you can only learn by reading slowly và carefully.

Let’s analyze this paragraph–but instead of looking for problems that create confusion, I’ll try to lớn figure out why I liked reading this paragraph, what made these four sentences so interesting to me.

Some things that I find interesting:

The writing in this paragraph is a lot clearer than the paragraph about Great blue Herons, even though the sentences in this paragraph are longer & have more complex grammar. The basic message of the first sentence (the unknown is what must be found) is abstract và academic, and while the extra words in the sentence don’t showroom specificity, they create a poetic rhythm that urges you khổng lồ keep reading.By contrast, the last sentence in the paragraph offers a vivid picture in your mind. Instead of vague words lượt thích idea and form, we have fishermen & a dark sea.Unlike the text about herons, this writer avoids using different words to lớn describe the same thing. She repeats the words artists & the unknown several times, và this repetition helps the reader khổng lồ follow her thoughts, despite all the abstract words & pronouns in the paragraph.

These are just a few ideas, after a few minutes of analysis, that I can try to lớn use in my own writing. These are not Universal Rules, but little tricks & techniques that can make my writing more interesting & unique from writers who read all the same books.

In this post, we look at how to lớn score high on the IELTS Writing chạy thử — using some sample questions và a Band 9 essay example.

Professor Pinker’s Explanation:

“The individual sentences are clear enough, and they obviously pertain to lớn a single topic. But the passage is incomprehensible. By the second sentence we’re wondering about where here is. The third has us puzzling over whether great blue herons differ from herons in general, và if they do, whether these herons live only in the northern United States, unlike the other herons, who live in Canada as well. The fourth sentence seems to lớn come out of the blue, và the fifth seems to lớn contradict the fourth. The paragraph is then rounded out with two non sequiturs.” Return lớn example.

Photo by Steve Johnson