English writing is more important than you might think!
Knowing how to write in English can help you organize and clearly express your thoughts.
Even more importantly, it’s a way to connect with others around the world.
English is a global language, which means that people worldwide use it for communication, business, entertainment and many other aspects of life.
As you can see, writing in English is a very important skill!
As you continue with your English writing journey, learning to write in English properly will help you in many ways.
Let’s take a look at everything that you need to get going on this meaningful and educational journey to perfecting your English writing skills.
Types of English Writing
There are many different types of writing with different styles, levels of formality, types of vocabulary and ways that they’re organized on the page.
That’s why the best place to start your learning is by thinking about your own goals and motivations.
Ask yourself some questions:
Am I learning English writing for a school project?
Am I learning to find a job in the United Kingdom?
Do I want to be a famous English author?
Okay, the last question might be a bit ambitious, but nothing is out of reach with the right approach and commitment!
Understanding your goals will help give you some direction when it comes to your English writing studies. However, if your end goal is English fluency, you should aim to understand all the different writing types and styles.
You will find that there are similarities between all the different writing styles. Elements like rhythm, flow, grammar, spelling and clarity (how easy to understand the writing is) are all parts of good writing in English, no matter the type.
Let’s take a look at the different forms and styles of writing in English and how we can tell them apart:
English essay writing
English essay writing is a requirement for many European and non-European students who learn English in either high school or college. In short, essays have an introduction with a clear thesis (main topic), a very organized middle that addresses the essay topic and a conclusion that neatly ends the essay.
Learning how to write an essay with the aid of great English essay tips won’t just help you get ahead in class, but it’ll also help you with perhaps the most basic style of English writing.
Essay writing is also important if you plan to take an English exam like the Cambridge or IELS exams. Many ESL tests will require you to write an essay for part of the test.
English academic writing
Writing academic English is recommended for students who already have a basic understanding of English writing. This is because it’s a “high level” form of English used in academic journals, research papers, proposals and more, and it requires a good understanding of different elements of writing like citations and footnotes. Academic English writing often uses advanced vocabulary and a very rigid (specific and unchangeable) format.
You might want to learn academic writing if you’re enrolled in a college or university course and will be required to write papers using the style.
Business English writing
English is the global language of business. This means that if you’re planning to work or are currently working in a business field, it’s necessary to become familiar with the specific vocabulary and writing style of business English writing. Writing for business is more formal than regular English writing and often uses business terms that you might not hear in everyday conversation.
You can get familiar with this vocabulary by taking a course for business English writing online. If you decide to take this approach, you’ll be focusing on formal language and technological communication.
Letter and email writing in English
If there’s one “must-learn” style of writing from this list, then it would have to be email writing. Emails are one of the most common ways to communicate online and can range from very informal to very formal. Therefore, knowing how to write an email in English is very important for every English learner.
Of course, an older and perhaps more impressive form of email writing is, in fact, writing letters in English. It might seem outdated, but writing physical letters is still a skill used worldwide, especially in more formal situations. Or you might get a penpal to exchange physical letters with!
English creative writing
Last but not least, we have creative writing. Creative writing covers many different forms, including fiction, poetry, playwriting and creative non-fiction. However, a common feature of many styles of creative writing is descriptive writing. It’s a fantastic way to add more depth to your writing and make it exciting!
You might think that creative writing isn’t a skill you need to work on if you’re an English learner, but this type of writing can teach you plenty of things, too! For example, writing dialogue can teach you more about how people speak, while poetry can help you improve your writing flow and rhythm.
Plus, it’s fun!
How to Improve Your English Writing Skills
There’s a very simple formula for developing your English writing skills: Read more and write more.
Okay, maybe that’s easier said than done! Luckily, we have some tips and resources that simplify the learning process.
Learn basic English writing rules
Writing has its own set of rules that can help your writing sound more natural.
As we mentioned before, there are several different writing styles in English. This means that some of the rules will be different for each type of writing. For example, a business letter to a colleague will be much more formal and structured than a quick email to a friend. A poem will be descriptive and focus on using beautiful language, while academic writing focuses more on using very concrete (specific) language with no extra words.
Despite these differences, there are some overall rules that can help you write better in English, no matter which type of writing you’re learning.
Learn and become familiar with these elements of writing to write like a native:
- Correct Spelling: It’s very important to write with the correct spelling in English. Spelling can make your professional writing look much more childish! Many native English speakers struggle with correct spelling, so don’t worry if you can’t get your “your” and “you’re” straight. There are plenty of free online resources that can provide English writing help and guarantee that you’re getting it right every time.
When learning how to spell correctly, keep in mind that there are some differences between US and UK English spelling. It’s best to decide which standard spelling you’re going to learn and stick to it. You can learn these small differences after you’ve covered the basics. The main point is that you don’t want to be mixing this spelling, especially if you’re writing for work or an exam.
- Basic Grammar: Grammar, grammar, grammar! Nothing’s more important than grammar, whether you’re speaking or writing. To improve your writing, make sure you at least know the basics of English grammar. We recommend first focusing on correct word order, basic verb conjugation and some of the most common irregular verbs.
There’s an English expression: “don’t sweat the small stuff,” which means you shouldn’t worry about small or minor details. In some ways, this saying can apply to English grammar and writing. Many native speakers and writers will misplace commas and confuse homophones in their writing. In fact, there’s an ongoing debate about a comma!
Start small, learn the basics, and don’t worry about getting it all perfect right at the start.
- Writing structure: Almost all English writing follows the same three-part structure. Quite simply, it’s a beginning, middle and end.
Depending on the writing style you’re learning, the name of these sections might change. A play, for example, will have a set-up, confrontation and a resolution, while an essay will have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. However, for our goals, they can be considered the same structure.
Ensuring that your writing follows the correct organizational structure will help you improve your writing no matter the form.
- Active voice and short sentences: In English writing, we generally favor the active voice (“someone does something”) over the passive voice (“something is done by someone”). This helps the language to be more direct and effective.
Take a look at these two sentences and decide which sounds cleaner, sharper and more powerful: “The spaghetti was quickly eaten by the golden retriever,” or: “The golden retriever devoured his spaghetti.” Hopefully, you picked the second! That’s the active voice in action.
In addition to a strong voice, shorter sentences are generally favored over longer, “wordy” sentences. A basic rule to remember is: if you can rephrase a two-word phrase in one word, do it.
Follow key English writing tips
Once you’ve nailed the basics, I imagine you want to be looking at ways to improve your written English. Even if you’re not planning to write a bestselling book, start by listening to some advice from 11 bestselling authors. You’ll discover that one main bit of advice is repeated over and over: Believe in yourself!
Do your best. It won’t be perfect at first, but with practice and these English writing tips, you’ll get better and soon be writing like a pro!
- Write every day: It’s essential, if a somewhat basic tip, but it’s easier said than done. Organize a schedule, make time each day to practice and stick to it.
- Develop a strategy: Start with what you know first. Create a system that works for you and then slowly begin to adjust and expand on it. Begin with vocabulary and grammar that you’re already familiar with, then move on to more complex writing styles.
- Editing is vital: I’ll let you in on a little secret: The real magic happens in the editing phase. This is where you look over your writing and consider any changes that could improve the quality. This step can’t be skipped over because it’s just as important as the writing itself. You can even use an online resource to help you in the editing phase and make sure everything is perfect! You’ll learn a lot from editing your own writing, so there are plenty of reasons to give it a shot.
- Make use of online resources: There are so many free online writing resources at your fingertips these days! Use them to improve your writing and even have it corrected with suggestions in real-time. We’re going to take a look at some different kinds of online practice resources below, so read on to learn more.
Practice your English writing with this 6-step writing exercise
As they say, practice makes perfect. And luckily, we’re here to help!
Use this six-step writing exercise to boost your writing skills and confidence:
- Step one: Read a selected text (or sections from one). Choose a form of writing that you’d like to imitate (write in a similar way). This can either be a text that you enjoy or a text related to your writing purpose. For example, if you’re writing an academic essay, find an academic essay that’s similar to what you hope to achieve with your own writing.
- Step two: Read it again, and take notes. As you read this time, copy important sections and outline the key ideas. Don’t worry too much about copying too much, as we’ll be making it our own in the end. Start with copying at first to help you get a feel for native writing, tone, structure and word choice.
You can repeat these two steps using as many different texts as you’d like for broader experience and exposure to the language. Once you have a good feel for what other writers do, you can move on to the next step.
- Step three: Start writing your own short texts using online writing exercises. We’ve seen what others can do and we’ve written down our favorite bits. Now it’s time to start writing on your own. Use writing exercises for a structured way to practice your English writing and push you to try different ideas and approaches.
There are so many ways to practice writing! Try writing prompts, ask for help on forums, read and comment on blogs, follow relevant YouTube channels (like the FluentU English YouTube channel!) and anything else you can imagine related to English writing practice. In this way, it really is up to you just how far you want to take it.
- Step four: Practice, practice, practice! I can’t stress the importance of a daily routine enough. Write every day! Stick to your writing schedule, refer to online resources and most of all, keep pushing!
- Step five: Edit your writing. Don’t just write and put your writing away in a dark drawer somewhere. Instead, keep your writing and revisit it after a week or two. Read your writing and fix up errors, choose better words to express yourself and look for other ways to improve the writing. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve improved over just a short time!
- Step six: Get a second opinion. Once you have a polished piece of writing that you’re proud of, share it with a friend! Ask your teacher or tutor to look at it, or seek the advice of an English-speaking friend. Don’t feel shy or bad about asking for help: Even professional writers have someone look over their work before it’s published. It’s always good to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.
This is just one approach to English writing study. Of course, experimentation is key in this process. Try different versions of these steps and find what works best for you.
How to Choose the Right English Writing Resource
Writing tools and online resources are very popular at the moment. They range from basic grammar checkers to advanced writing assistance and editing services and everything in between. It could be argued that there are too many choices when it comes to writing resources!
That’s why it’s so important to consider what will best suit your needs and requirements deeply. We don’t want to waste time and money on a resource that we’re not getting any use out of.
So, the big question is, what’s right for me? Well, let’s take a look at some possible options when it comes to English writing resources.
Choosing the right resource is entirely up to you. You should begin by asking yourself some questions to ensure that you make the right decision:
A good starting point would be to do an honest examination of your current writing skills. What do you need help with? What are some areas that you can improve on? These kinds of questions can help set you on the right path.
For example, suppose you already have intermediate writing skills. In that case, an online grammar checker may be better suited for you as opposed to a complete grammar book which might be a better option for a beginner.
Another excellent approach is to assess how often you are planning to write in English. Do you want something quick, easy, and convenient to help with basic grammar problems or do you want a long-term resource that you can refer to again and again?
Finally, cost is a factor that you should take into consideration. Due to a large number of available resources, there’s a large variation in price ranging from free to costly monthly and yearly subscriptions. Consider how much you are willing to pay for these services and remember that there’s no problem with starting small and purchasing more complex resources as you progress.
Now you hopefully have a starting point, we can examine some of the possible options in more detail to help you make the right decision for using English writing resources.
English writing apps
Perhaps the most common of all, English writing apps are a fantastic choice for English learners who want to study on the go.
There are many kinds of writing apps, from simple translators and grammar checkers to apps created specifically with English learners in mind. Before you start looking for a good app, think about the features you want it to have. You’re sure to find something that suits your learning style!
Writing courses, lessons and websites for English learners
A more structured class can help you really boost your writing skills quickly. A class can take many forms, including online or in-person lessons, classes in a school, more formal courses and even English writing websites to help give direction to your learning.
With websites, you could even create your own at-home course!
If you’re a beginner, we recommend that you seek a course or lesson that has an actual instructor, since this will give you the opportunity to receive advice and feedback on your progress.
Websites with forums or comment sections are great options for intermediate and advanced learners because they’ll give you the opportunity to interact with other learners, practice your writing skills together and help each other improve.
Books and references for English writing
English writing books can be great sources of advice and are very useful to hold on to. Although it’s not as common in this digital age, having a physical copy of a book next to you while you write is great for support, and you’re sure to refer to it many times.
It’s worth investing in a good English writing book since the advice within was written by a professional with unique insight into the English language. Generally, the advice you find in a book will not change over time. For example, “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. was first published in 1918 but is still seen as one of the best books about writing! Professional writers still refer back to this old book to learn how to use the difficult-to-perfect comma.
English writing tutors
Ready to invest a bit more time and money into your writing journey? Hire a tutor to help you along.
Getting a tutor is great for any level of learner with any goal, but it’s especially important for the more advanced types of writing, like academic or business writing. Nothing beats the personalized feedback and guidance that an English tutor can give!
English grammar checkers
For accurate and exact writing, you might want to consider an English grammar checker. These types of tools are very popular at the moment with native and non-native speakers alike!
Grammar checkers can point out your mistakes as you type, or can check large chunks of text. You can use grammar checkers to find mistakes that you make often, to improve your grammar knowledge and even improve your style and clarity!
Keep in mind that, since they’re powered by computers and not people, grammar checkers sometimes make mistakes. But a good one can still help you tremendously!
Lists of writing topics for learners
Freewriting is one of the best ways to practice your English writing ability. This is where you choose and topic and start writing freely!
But knowing where and how to start can be difficult. Thankfully, there are many options online related to ESL writing topics. You simply need to visit the websites, find a topic that interests you and start writing.
It’s a free, easy and highly rewarding way to improve your writing. Best of all, you’ll never run out of topics (I promise)!
Writing examples in English
One of the best ways to learn how to write is to learn from the best! By this, I mean reading writing samples from writers that you admire, studying their style and making notes. There are some fantastic ESL resources available, including sample texts, short stories, essays and, as we have mentioned previously, writing lists. Some of the benefits of using sample resources include having a target to aim for and getting a natural feel for the flow of English writing.
Did you know that you can even add reading to video watching? Just turn on the subtitles in a program like Netflix or FluentU and get tons of practice with content you love!
FluentU takes this a step further and gives you the power to look up any word as the video’s playing.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Every video has a transcript (with full audio for proper pronunciation!) and comes with a quiz that makes sure you understood everything you just watched.
Try it out with a free trial! We recommend using FluentU to write down your favorite lines, using our six-step formula for improving your writing from earlier!
With motivation, consistent practice and the right approach, you’ll soon be writing informative, beautifully written pieces of text in English with ease. So, grab a notebook and your favorite pen and get started. Good luck!
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