How do I improve my writing?


Hi It’s Matt here, Director of Studies at Langports Brisbane. Today, I want to look at the macro skill of writing and show you strategies on how you can improve this skill.

Now, one of the most frequent questions I am asked by students from all different nationalities is, “How do I improve my writing?”, or “Why isn’t my writing getting any better when my other skills (listening, speaking and reading) are improving?”

With the other macro skills, especially listening & speaking, students often progress at a quicker rate (and can easily see their progress) as they are using these skills all the time in their day-to-day life in Australia. However, with writing, it is often the skill students practice and use less (especially in today’s technologically advanced society), but that doesn’t mean it is any less useful or important.

So, what can you do to improve your writing?

Well, here are seven simple steps to follow:

1. Answer the question/follow the task

As a writer, you need to follow what the task is and keep your writing on topic the whole time. Don’t add unnecessary information that doesn’t answer the question.

2. Register

Who is the audience for your writing? Are you writing an informal letter to your friend, is it an academic essay, an article, or are you writing a formal cover letter? The register will dictate what language you can use.

3. Structure

How are you going to structure your writing and how many paragraphs do you need? How are you going to link the ideas through your writing? What discourse markers or linkers will you use, or do you need more informal language (see Register)?

4. Don’t translate from your language (L1)

Students will often translate how they would write something in their own language into English. Syntax (word order), punctuation and spelling means that this will almost certainly lead to multiple mistakes and a ‘dog’s breakfast*’ of a writing (* = very bad quality!), and will give nightmares to your teacher!

5. Check your writing

Once you have finished your writing, you need to read through it. Students often rush parts of their writing and make simple mistakes. By taking the time to read through a piece of writing before handing it in, you can correct some of your mistakes.

6. Reading

Yes, we are talking about writing, but the more you read will definitely improve your writing. How? Well, by reading, you will extend your vocabulary range and increase your exposure to grammatically correct tenses. Read more, and your writing will improve.

7. Rewrite, rewrite & rewrite

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, you need to keep rewriting your work after your teacher has marked it. As teachers, we are going to highlight your errors, but you need to correct them. Learning from your mistakes is the main way you are going to improve. For a teacher, there is nothing more frustrating than a student who doesn’t correct their work and hands in the same written errors week after week!!  

Of course, there are many more strategies to improving your writing, but if you can follow the above steps, you should be able to progress and actually see that you are doing so!

One more thing, don’t forget to rewrite!!

Until the next time…


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