Write to improve your language skills

door Regina Coeli

Have you ever taken the time to sit down and produce piece of writing in a language other than your native one? It’s one of the best ways to get a better grasp on a foreign language! Writing improves your speaking skills, so even if you never need to write anything, grab a pen and paper anyway and start composing!

Writing is sometimes said to be a slow way of talking. It takes longer to put thoughts down in writing than it does to say them. When you put pen to paper, you actively think about the words you’re writing, about the sentence structure and about whether the way you’ve written it gets the message across the right way.

Positive effects of writing in a foreign language

If you write regularly, you’ll start noticing the following after a while:

  • Your grammatical accuracy will improve, also in conversations. You’ll get a feel for the structure of the language.
  • The more you tap into your vocabulary, the faster you’ll recall words in conversations. Besides that, your vocabulary will grow by looking things up now and then. Actively chewing on that word makes remembering it easier.
  • You’ll learn to better formulate your thoughts and substantiate your opinions.

Ideas for writing

So, writing is clearly useful when you’re learning a foreign language, but what in the world should you write about? Well, that depends…

  • If you’ve just started learning a language, write short sentences and messages—pieces such as short emails, social media posts and WhatsApp messages. You don’t have to send or post what you’ve written, although it can be nice when people reply.
  • Are certain grammar themes tricky for you? Then give yourself targeted tasks: write 10 sentences in the past continuous, write a formal letter politely requesting something, or write an argument which includes transitional words and phrases to make it clearly structured—you name it!
  • Write about subjects that interest you. It’s a great way to build vocabulary that you can also use in conversations.
  • Write blogs or keep a diary in the foreign language. Or comment on any blogs you read.
  • If your skills are already quite good, try writing a summary of something you’ve read. Stick to the subject, but write it in your own words in the foreign language. Draw on the original text for vocabulary.
  • Retell a story you’ve recently heard or read in your own words.

Lastly, we have three tips for you

  1. Think in the foreign language while you’re writing in it. That way you won’t tie yourself in knots over the structure of the language. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to translate ideas word for word.
  2. Reread and rewrite:
    a. Is what you want to say clear?
    b. Could it be more concise?
    c. Are there any synonyms which might be a better fit?
    d. Is it grammatically correct?
  3. Ask a native speaker to read what you’ve written and comment on it. If you haven’t got a native speaker who can do that for you, or if you’d like to receive tips from a trainer, please feel free to get in touch with us at Regina Coeli. Our language coaching can help you on your way.

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