Wednesday, April 02, 2008
English and Foreign Language Compositions - 5 Tips for Easier Writing
Writing Can Seem Like a Daunting Task
Whether you are an English as a foreign language teacher or a foreign language learner, at some point you’re going to have to write an essay or composition in English. Since English is structured quite differently from many other foreign language groups in terms of grammar, spelling and punctuation rules, writing even a simple, straight-forward opinion essay or composition can seem like a daunting task for many. Writing in English can be either process or product-based (ref. Fowler, 1988 vs.White, 1987), so even native English language speakers can experience problems with organizing, composing, drafting and editing a written piece in their own first language (L1). So if you are nervous about writing at first, don’t worry too much about that. You’re in plenty of good company.
Here are seven easy tips to help make the English language writing process easier.
1. Use a five-paragraph essay format
To keep yourself on track use this writing format: Paragraph one – state your idea or opinion and what you’re going to write about clearly and simply in three to five sentences. Here's a five-paragraph essay example online for you to follow.
2. Write simple sentences
Use short, simple sentences to help state your points as directly as possible. “I think learning a foreign language is important for most learners.” Then use additional sentences to add additional points. “This is because most learners will need to be able to communicate with others not from their culture.” For more points and ideas just use more sentences. “We all live in a globally-based community connected by technology like telephones, faxes, e-mail and the internet.” Don’t list more than three or four items in a sentence.
3. Use compound sentences expressing no more than two ideas – sparingly
For a little variety, you can use compound sentences which express two ideas instead of just one. If you do this however, it should be just a very few sentences – not a lot of them. “People in many European countries often have to communicate in several languages on a daily basis, like English, French, and Spanish or German for example.”
4. Be sure to capitalize proper nouns
Proper nouns are generally the names of persons, places or things and should be capitalized. Examples are nouns such as languages, cities, people’s names, titles, and geographic names among many other possibilities. Use a dictionary to help you. English, Barcelona, President George W. Bush, and Mt. Saint Helens illustrate proper capitalization.
5. Be careful with the use of the articles in English
In a number of languages, the use of the indefinite article (a, an) or the definite article (the, this, that, these, those) can be very different from their use in the English language. Also related are quantifiers like: some, any, a lot of, many, few, all, none, much and most). These can be a problem if the learner translates from their first language (L1).
Many English-Speaking Natives Have Problems
So if you are nervous about writing in English at first, remember that even many native English language speakers have problems with essays, articles, letters and compositions in their own first language (L1). Just follow the steps above and you should find the English language writing process a whole lot simpler and easier.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: firstname.lastname@example.org Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then e-mail me for further information.