Writing Tips For ESL Learners
Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Estrella
Writing seems to be an area ESL learners feel uncomfortable with. Even if they have mastered grammar. There seems to be a fear of not expressing their ideas correctly or perfectly in English. If this describes someone you know, or maybe it’s you, I hope this article helps. Here are some writing tips for ESL learners.
It’s quite possible that when you learned English as a foreign language, your teachers emphasized the importance of writing correctly. This is common among foreign language teachers. They were teaching you something new, and they wanted to make sure you learned it right.
However, you are not new to this foreign language anymore. The more you know a language, the more flexible you can be. Think about your native language. When you write a letter to a friend, do you feel comfortable NOT following the writing format you learned in school?
Next time you write an American friend, think of the ease you have when you write in your native language, and transfer the confidence. You can feel comfortable about this because often Americans write the way they speak, unlike some languages. For example, in Chinese, you do not write the way you speak. But with American English, often you can. Of course this depends on the situation. There are times when it’s necessary to write more formally.
Is this starting to help you feel more ease about writing in English?
Now, some “technical” part of writing for American readers. Let’s say you are writing a progress report for work. If you make a claim about something, you need to support that with evidence.
For example, suppose you claim that productivity has increased in your team. Give examples of that increase. More units produced than the last quarter? Delivered product before deadline this time? Show. Don’t tell.
If you are in school, doing this will get you a higher grade. I used to teach college writing. International students from certain areas tend to write about the general. And they do not support their claims. So even though their English was good, they could not get a good grade because there was no evidence to support their statements.
Evidence can be in the form of a true story. Statistics is always good if it applies to the subject. Your observation can be used as well. Usually, the more specific, the better. So, finding support for claims can be easier than you think. 🙂
I hope reading this article has helped you in some way to feel more at ease with writing in English. Much of the time, you can write the way you speak. With American English, that is. And if you make a claim about something, support your own statement with evidence. Let supporting details show your reader that your ideas are good.
If you run into specific problems in writing while applying ideas in this article, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you find this article helpful, here is one on Tips for HR managers to better support ESL employees.
Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking. To schedule a session with her, please email email@example.com