Writing in a foreign language

When learning a language you will probably be able to understand more than you can say, and read more than you can write. Understanding and reading a language as somewhat easier than speaking as writing as you don’t have to actively put your own sentences together, to apply grammatically transformations to verbs, nouns and other words, or to articulate the songs of the language. Languages written with non-Latin writing systems, such as Greek, Arabic or Chinese, can be quite a challenge to write as well, especially Chinese.

So, if you want to improve your writing in a foreign language, how do you go about it?

Practise! As with other aspects of language learning, practise is the key to improving your writing. You could write a line or two in your diary or on your blog each day, and gradually increase the amount you write as you become more confident of your writing abilities. At first you’ll probably have to look up many if not all of the words, and will probably have to check the grammar as well. The more you write, the less you’ll have to do this, at least for the words you use most often. On a blog you can also ask readers to correct your mistakes and to comment on your writing style. When you can write a piece in the language you’re learning without having to refer to a dictionary or grammar book at all, you’ll know that you’ve made significant progress.

You could write about your life, hobbies, interests, thoughts or dreams. You could comment on current events, write about your favourite TV or radio programme, or about the books you’ve read. You could make up an alternative you who is living in a country where the language you’re learning is spoken and write about your imaginary life there. Or perhaps you could write a story. It doesn’t really matter what you write about as long as you keep writing and enjoy it. If it starts feeling like a burden or a chore, try to find ways to make it more enjoyable.

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