It’s that part of your language practice that you’re always putting off. Maybe it’s hard for you in your native language, and it feels nearly impossible in English. You worry that what you write doesn’t sound natural. And who will check it to make sure it sounds good? It’s not like a conversation where a confused listener gives you a clue that you’ve made a mistake or aren’t on the right track.
The truth is, writing is so valuable because it’s a safe space to actively practice your English.
Writing is output, just like speaking. It requires your brain to produce sentences. It makes you creative with your vocabulary and forces you to try and fail (and try again)! Not convinced?
Here are my top five reasons to stop neglecting your writing practice:
1. Writing shows you areas of grammar or sentence structure that you are struggling with.
If you feel like you are struggling with the same grammar points, writing will help you narrow them down so you can focus on what you don’t know or haven’t mastered yet. Have you ever typed in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and that little line pops up under something you’ve written? Think of that as a free clue to better understand grammar that you may be struggling with. If you right click on the sentence or word, it will suggest a correction. This suggestion isn’t always correct, but it could be a clue about a tense, preposition or structure that you are struggling with. If you have a native speaker who can read your writing, they can correct it for you and point out ways to make your writing sound more natural. It’s hard to hide mistakes in writing, but it’s less scary to make them than standing in a room of native English speakers. I promise!
2. Writing can be done while you are alone! No native speaker necessary.
Are you shy, or do you study in a different country where English isn’t commonly spoken? Great news! Writing can be done without a native speaker, without an American best friend, and on your own time. If the only time you have to practice English is at night or early in the morning, writing is an active way to improve your vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar when you can’t realistically speak to another person.
3. Writing doesn’t have to be formal.
Do you feel like writing is only for students who are planning to study at university or professionals who use the language at work? “Writing” doesn’t have to be academic papers, business emails or resumes. It also doesn’t have to be for creative writers. Writing can be Instagram and Facebook posts. Writing can be a journal of what you did that day. It can be formal, but it’s usually conversational, making it a great way to try out new phrases that you’ve been scared to use in conversation. People write on social media like they talk in real life. Use this opportunity to practice your small talk or start a new “digital conversation.”
4. Writing will help you connect with other people.
If you struggle to meet other people, writing is a great way to find a group of like-minded people without the pressure of walking up to someone and introducing yourself. Have you ever wanted to start a blog or a social media account to connect with others, but worry that your English isn’t good enough? Great news! Using English in these mediums and on these platforms is an easy (and free) way to connect with other English speakers (both English learners and natives)!
5. Writing is easy to look back on. You can see how far you’ve come.
Are you stuck in the “intermediate plateau”—where you feel like you never make new progress? Think of writing like a journal, even if it isn’t actually a journal (but it can be!). You can’t look back and have a recording of every conversation you’ve ever had, but you can look back on your writing to see how much you’ve improved.
Are you sold on the idea yet?
Even if you are too afraid to put yourself out there on social media yet, try writing a few sentences about your day this week in the “Notes” section of your phone, or writing a “to-do” list in English. It might not feel like you are practicing your English, but every sentence brings you closer to fluency.
Looking for English speaking friends on social media?
Find me on IG @fluentthewriteway! I look forward to chatting with you soon.
- Putting off: something that you avoid doing, usually with a plan to complete it at a later date.
- Check it: to verify that something is correct.
- Pops up: to appear.
- Gives you a clue: a hint.
- On the right track: acting or thinking in a way that will usually result in success.
- The truth is…: introductory phrase that is used before you tell someone something honest (sometimes it is a hard thing for the listener to believe).
- Safe space: a place without judgement (does not have to be a physical space, like a room.)
- Narrow down: to reduce the number of possibilities or choices.
- Point out: to direct someone’s attention toward something.
- On your own time: something that you can do while you are alone, or during your spare time.
- Realistically: sensible or practical.
- Small talk: polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in on social occasions.
- Like-minded: people with the same ideas, values or interests as you.
- Connect with: to bring together (people or ideas).
- Mediums (in this context): a means by which something is communicated or expressed.
- Platforms: a space (can be digital) for people to share information or opinions. (think of “social media platform” or “a digital platform” – these are a space for you to share photos, information or opinions).
- Stuck in: unable to move from.
- Intermediate plateau: a common term among language learners that describes a time where you are not getting better or worse. Your progress stays the same.
- Look back: to look again at something that you read, wrote or did at an earlier time.
- Sold on: convinced of.
- Put yourself out there: to be vulnerable and honest. To try something new, even if it is scary or difficult.