Need English Writing Help? These 11 Top Tools Can Save the Day
Do you need help with writing in English right now?
It’s okay to get some help. Writing can be a challenge in any language. After all, you need to use lots of key language skills and express your creativity.
In this post, we are going to show you how anyone can strengthen their English writing skills and start earning good grades.
We have collected a number of amazing tips along with practical resources and tools for you to improve your writing. You will find websites, idea resources, lectures, online lessons, dictionaries and other useful stuff below.
- 11 Great Tools for Anyone Who Needs Help Writing in English
11 Great Tools for Anyone Who Needs Help Writing in English
1. Student Share
The first secret of becoming a better English writer is to learn how to use other writings as examples.
What we suggest is straightforward and practical.
- Examine good examples of the kind of writing you want to produce.
- Carefully identify the grammar, vocabulary and sentence structures you find in these examples.
- Write down and memorize the grammar, vocabulary and sentence structures you found and apply all of this to your own writing. (Note: Do not copy other people’s writing and publish it or submit it for credit—that is plagiarism and could get you in trouble.)
Student Share is the ideal website to help you with this process.
Here, you will find thousands of different types of English writing that have been produced and uploaded by students, and it is all available for you to look through and use as sources of ideas, as well as vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure guides.
If you became worried about quality while reading the words “produced and uploaded by students,” you do not have to be. The overall quality of the writing here is very high, since all the materials are checked by the website’s administrative team before publishing.
Using Student Share, you will get free access to a couple of pieces of writing every day. If you want to get unlimited access, become a part of this learning community and share your own materials with others.
FluentU is a language learning website and app that teaches with authentic English videos, letting you learn natural English as spoken by native speakers.
Because each clip comes with transcripts and interactive subtitles, you can get reading practice and get exposure to many English sentences in different contexts. These subtitles also work like a dictionary–you can click on any word and you’ll get its definition, grammar details, pronunciation and example usages in other sentences and clips.
The program also has personalized quizzes that let you practice spelling and speaking words, with some exercises requiring you to finish incomplete sentences.
3. BBC Learning English
Our second tip for you is to start a new, useful habit: Watch video presentations on BBC Learning English every day.
BBC has a YouTube channel for non-English speakers where they locate videos on such areas as vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and study skills. The videos are fun, clear and easy to understand, so you won’t have to push yourself to watch them every day—you will actually want to watch them because it is always an enjoyable learning experience.
Moreover, spending lots of time listening to English audio is an effective method for non-native speakers who are learning the language. The more you listen, the more English vocabulary and grammar you will memorize without even trying.
Try listening to one before you start writing to get warmed up, or when you are having trouble finding the right words while writing.
4. “The English Language: A User’s Guide” by Jack Lynch
Next, you have to learn grammar rules constantly.
You have to learn them all the time to fill in the gaps, no matter how boring it is. If you really want to express your ideas clearly, you will always need to know the correct grammar and sentence structures to use.
Try Jack Lynch’s guide to grammar and style to find useful, clear notes about grammatical rules with detailed explanations, examples, suggestions on usage and comments on writing style.
Jack Lynch is an associate professor in the English department of Rutgers University, and the materials published here are based on the notes he uses for his English classes. So, it is perfect guidance for writing academic essays and anything else for school or work.
5. “Common Errors in English Usage” by Paul Brians
Let’s move to the next piece of advice.
Learn from other people’s mistakes using the resource “Common Errors in English Usage.”
This is a collection of common mistakes in English, along with explanations and comments for each mistake. This resource will help you find out what errors you commonly make so that you can pay more attention to them in the future.
Who knows, maybe you make the same errors all the time without even knowing about them! Evaluate these mistakes, identify your own mistakes, take the suggestions given in this book and make use of them to improve your English writing.
Do not learn single words alone. Trying to stare (look at for a long time) at long word lists can be frustrating.
You will easily learn more English words if you try to learn them through their associations with other words. Believe it or not, there is no better way of memorizing new words than associations. Many language learners will agree that this is the only way to truly learn vocabulary and remember it for life.
Well, VisuWords is a great tool that will help you memorize words using your imagination and visual memory, especially if you are too tired of flashcards.
Although VisuWords is a kind of dictionary, it allows you to type words, see how they are spelled and see what ending should be added for a new word to appear. This way you enrich your vocabulary and practice writing skills.
Using this simple tool, you can easily look up different words and discover their meanings through associations and other concepts. When you learn how words are associated, you will understand how and in what situations they are used by native speakers. This helps you avoid misunderstandings in communication both written and oral.
If you want to enrich your language for better writing, you have to know lots of synonyms—words that have the same meaning. For example, “fabulous,” “wonderful” and “awesome” are all synonyms of “great.”
Using synonyms is crucial if you want to sound like a native speaker when you write. You will need to use a good variety of vocabulary. If you use the same word 100 times in one piece of writing, your readers will get bored. They will also think that you do not know much English vocabulary. If you notice you are repeating vocabulary a lot, you will need a good tool to find more options.
However, you cannot keep the entire dictionary in your head.
To solve this problem, use Thesaurus, an online dictionary of synonyms and antonyms (words with opposite meanings). This one is great not only for writing, but also for effective paraphrasing, when you want to say something with different words but keep the same meaning.
If this is helpful for you, you should also get a paper copy of a thesaurus—the classic Merriam-Webster thesaurus is always a good choice.
If you want to take things even further and improve your writing with an interactive thesaurus, check out Visual Thesaurus. It provides lists of synonyms, just like a regular thesaurus, but it also draws you a “word map” so you can really see the connections between words. It is a very fun way to keep discovering new English words!
Of course, when you are writing anything in English, you cannot make it sound really great without paying attention to grammar, spelling, word usage and punctuation.
When you finish writing something in English, you should read it carefully and ask yourself:
- Did I follow every English grammar rule correctly?
- Are all my vocabulary words spelled and used correctly?
- Is my punctuation right?
However, this can be very challenging when you are still learning English. How can you do that without any outside help?
To edit and revise your text, use Grammarly, an extensive, online content checker. This program detects and fixes your mistakes, making suggestions on how to make your paper better, correct and more natural-sounding.
This advanced tool knows more than 200 types of errors and even understands if you use words in the wrong contexts. With Grammarly, you can be assured that your writing will have fewer errors. Your chances of completing a better paper, essay, report or article become significantly higher.
The other practical advice for those who use this website is: Pay close attention to the highlighted mistakes and comments given, in order to avoid the same mistakes in the future. You might even want to write down the mistakes and suggestions for corrections in a notebook, for future reference.
9. English Forums
Our next tip is simple: When you don’t know something, ask someone who knows.
If you do not know anybody who is a native speaker of English, then you can use the Internet to help you.
Visit English forums and get advice from English speakers. The audience of these forums is really excellent at providing comprehensive (complete) and relevant (specific to your situation) information. They will read your questions and doubts, and they will help you understand how to improve your writing.
If you are tired of looking for something particular, feel unsure about a grammar rule or need advice about something specific, don’t waste your time searching and searching in textbooks and websites. Go to this forum and directly ask people who know the language best!
10. Purdue Online Writing Lab
Purdue Online Writing Lab is a must for writers and for any students who are learning English.
Purdue Owl allows you to get access to a huge number of writing guidelines for all academic levels.
It has a special section for international students where you will find grammar lessons, guides for mechanics, plagiarism and different types of academic writing. Moreover, there is a section with clear and understandable formatting guides to help you format all your writing. You may need to know about a specific writing format for school, work or research, such as:
These are the most common—though there are more styles of English writing out there—and Purdue Owl has all the information you need to follow any of them.
So, make sure that Purdue Owl is in your browser’s favorites list, and you can visit whenever you are ready to write something.
Last but not least, aspiring ESL writers must be sure to practice and ask for feedback all the time.
Join the writing community at writing.com and find support and advice offered by other writers, both students and native speakers of English.
Moreover, you can share your writing and ask for critiques (feedback, opinions for improvement). Some writers are happy to collaborate in this way, since they practice their language and style by looking through other papers. In turn, you will get fair, unbiased feedback and suggestions on how to make things better.
With all these pieces of advice and fabulous tools, you will master all the nuances of English grammar, from article usage to tenses.
Just believe in yourself, believe in everything you have to say, share your message in your writing, rely on these resources to help you and move forward.
Veronica Hunt is a true edtech expert, blogger and freelance writer at eduplace.co. Follow Veronica on Google+ and Linkedin.