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Lesson One:

Develop your writing skills

I have a lot of ideas about how to improve a student's writing skills. Here are some of the most important things you need to do and think about before you start on this series of lessons:

  • Write something every day. Whether you use a notebook or compose your ideas on a computer, it's essential that you practice writing on a regular basis.
  • Find a place that is well-suited for writing. That could be a coffee shop, a library, or your bedroom. Whatever works for you is important. I personally prefer a quiet room with a desk and a computer that has a keyboard.
  • Monitor your progress. Date entries and keep your work well organized. By doing this, you will demonstrate to yourself your commitment to self-improvement.
  • Writing is a means towards self-improvement and your ability to communicate. Even if the final product looks terrible, you still learned something.
  • Don't fall in love with what you write. It can always be improved.

Why is it so important to learn how to write? A person who writes well generally communicates more effectively than a person who simply knows how to speak. That's one good reason. Writing skills also help you learn how to organize your thoughts when you speak. If you've ever needed to speak to a large group of people, you probably wrote down what you wanted to say first. No matter how lengthy the speech or conversation, writing provides a solid basis of preparation and helps you feel more confident.

Which is more difficult, speaking or writing? Most people will say that writing is more difficult than speaking. Why? When speaking to another person, you are forced to come up with the words and use the grammar on the spot, regardless of how it might sound when it leaves your lips. What you say is often imperfect; however, you say it anyway and you learn to live with your spoken word abilities. Writing, on the other hand, causes some people to freeze up. I think this is because they naturally want perfection when they write. A desire for words written flawlessly results in an excess of caution when writing, or worse, a person simply does not write. No words are put on the paper, and the writer simply gives up.

My advice to you is to write as you speak. Don't worry too much about how the words and the grammar come out onto the paper or the computer or the tablet. Let your imagination go. Do what children do. Explore and invent. Children are effective learners because they constantly try new things. They aren't overly concerned about how something looks or how it sounds. They just do it. So, that's my advice to you. Just do it, and fix the mistakes later.

Writing is work and it requires concentration. It isn't a leisurely chat over coffee. It's hard to do, but it can also be fun. After you write something, you will probably have to fix it. I constantly revise the things that I write. I'll eventually revise the page you are reading right now. Writing is revision. There are few people who can create a paragraph or an essay that is perfect the first time around.

Students often don't have enough trust in themselves or they lack confidence. They worry about criticism. The truth is, everyone makes mistakes. You already know that!

Finally, you should keep in mind everyone expresses himself or herself differently. English is a great language for self-expression. It's flexible and forgiving. While there are certain standards and rules that most good writers follow, the main variable is you. You express yourself in a unique way, and if you are communicating your ideas in a second language--in this case, English--you'll probably do it in a way that is interesting and pleasurable to read. You have a unique perspective. Use that to your advantage.

In the next lesson, I'll address matters related to grammar and usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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