Writing in English is no longer just something that your English teacher gives you for homework for academic reasons. Writing is a real-world task. In fact, it always has been, but even more so these days, it’s something we do regularly as part of interacting with friends and family, colleagues and clients.
Every day I read and write emails, Facebook updates and messages, Tweets and texts and I bet you’re in the same boat. However you may notice that you’ll use different language depending on the genre (eg article, report, email, text, Facebook update) and your audience, among other things. For example, how you write a report will differ tremendously from how you text or Tweet. Likewise, the language you use will differ if you’re writing to a friend compared to your company director.
Writing is helpful as it gets you to consider how to organise your ideas. What points will you make? How will you present them? How will you link your points together in one well-flowing piece of writing? This process is something you go through when you write in English. You think more in the language, and it becomes more effective for your overall learning than the typical grammar exercise you might do.
When I write in French or Czech, it gives me the chance to reflect on the language. I have some time to think over the best way to communicate my message and it really helps with keeping up my active vocabulary. Particularly for any writing task for homework, I can practise using some of the grammar, phrases and vocabulary we’ve studied in class.
What else? Writing helps you decide what is relevant. Just like there are some things you wouldn’t say when you speak, in writing there will be some things you decide are not a priority to mention. So you learn to edit and revise your own work.
Interestingly, when I get feedback on my writing from a teacher or tutor I remember it better than when I’m speaking. How about you? I’ve also noticed from teaching English that my students respond and remember feedback better when it’s written down. And by ‘feedback’ I don’t just mean going over a few mistakes, but deeper comments about the language and how it’s organised.
Beyond the task and process of writing, it all helps you learn to communicate better. You learn more about yourself. It may spark your imagination.
But ultimately it’s up to you. Will you take the time to do one piece of writing each week?
To get a feel of how to do all this – practice is king! Here are some writing ideas which you can try today:
The secret diary of Mr Bean’ – and 5 other writing missions
FCE story writing – “Even the most beautiful places can be irresistible, but only from a distance.”
“She smiled and walked away” – FCE story writing
david [at] GetIntoEnglish [dot] com