Learning to write well in English is a key part of mastering the language, yet when the teacher says:
‘In today’s lesson we will be writing …’
a surprising number of students – of all levels – are often unexcited, or even disappointed.
There are even some students who say:
‘I don’t need to write in English.’
Why this reaction? It could be that some students don’t realise the positive effects writing can have on other skills like reading and speaking. Other students may not have had the chance to write and correct several drafts of a text on previous courses, and so don’t know how satisfying this process can be.
In the next few posts, we will be looking at some ways to make your writing better, but first we should look at why practising writing in English is a good idea for everyone studying the language.
1. You most likely will need to write in English
With the rise of electronic communication, the ability to write at least a short email in English has become more of a necessity. Even if you really do plan to use your English only for travelling to English-speaking countries, it is likely that you will be much more relaxed about planning your journey (or dealing with any problems) if you can communicate via email to arrange or confirm accommodation and tours.
If you are thinking of looking for a job or doing a university course that requires English, writing will be an important part of the application process. You will probably also need to be able to communicate in writing (both informally and more formally) to do your work or complete your studies.
2. Doing and correcting writing assignments is like a one-to-one lesson
When you give your teacher a piece of writing, they will offer suggestions and give you helpful information about your use of the language. You then have the opportunity to make corrections and get more feedback from the teacher. This process can go on until both of you are satisfied with the finished product. The great thing about this is that you can see what vocabulary and grammar you are using correctly or incorrectly – and you can focus on improving those areas that are difficult for you.
3. Writing can help you progress in other skills
When we write we spend a lot of time thinking of the best words and phrases to use – much more so than when we speak. We also tend to pay closer attention to choosing the precise grammar forms to express our meaning. Additionally, we have to consider how to organise the whole text in a logical way so that the reader can understand us.
Writing forces us to analyse ‘how English works’ in order to communicate because we can’t use gestures, facial expressions and intonation to help get the message across. The active experimentation and ‘trial and error’ involved in writing makes English more familiar to us. The language you use and improve with your pen or keyboard, will help make you a better reader, speaker and listener.
So, now we have some excellent reasons to write! Check back next week for tips on what you can do to get the most out of your writing practice.