Students of English, in particular those learning to write in English, do not come in a particular mould. Male, female, young, old… anybody can be a writer and equally anyone can dream of being a better one than they are now.
Writing students do however fall into two main categories: those who want to improve their skill for a professional purpose (like advancing their career in a field related to writing) and those seeking more confidence in their literacy skills for use in their general, everyday lives.
Perhaps you are a struggling writer wanting to finally have a book published, or maybe you are a sole trader who wants make sure your marketing materials are professional. Regardless of your reason behind wanting to be a better writer, a writing course will offer you some really rewarding skills.
Depending on your current level of written English, a writing course can help you in a variety of ways. Check out this complete guide to improving English writing.
For those who are looking to pursue a career in writing, a course like this can teach them how to put their existing creative skills into practice. This means offering them guidance on dialling up or down tone, helping them to establish better character descriptions, teaching them how to develop a plot, and much, much more.
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Writing lessons can make you a more confident writer. Photo credit: shawncampbell via Visualhunt
Authors, for example, especially those who are famous for working in another industry, can benefit from writing lessons to help them to understand what it is their audience wants to read. Whether they are looking to write about their eventful life or to translate a story they have imagined onto paper, writing lessons could improve their ability to connect with their readers. Why not discover the benefits of writing everyday here.
For beginners, a writing course can be very useful in teaching the basics of the English language. Included are common spelling mistakes, how to structure a sentence, using basic English to describe objects or others and differentiating between word types and punctuation marks.
Regardless of your ability, a writing course is designed to bring out the best in you as an individual so you will be able to take away valuable lessons: improving your overall literacy, trusting your creativity and getting to know your own writing style.
Writing is as much about the content as it is the way in which it is written. That is why teaching people to use their imagination and to express themselves creatively is so important. Students enrolled on writing courses can benefit greatly from being encouraged to get in touch with their creative side.
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Language is complicated, and even more so when it is your mother-tongue. This is down to the fact that you speak the language out of habit. Using words and terms accumulated over many years, rather than thinking hard about the way in which they use them, many people write in the way they would speak. However, writing and speaking are two very different things.
Putting words down on paper should make you more aware of not only what you are saying, but how you are saying it and thus makes you rethink your use of language.
When starting out as a learner, there is no shame in going back to the basics, like reminding yourself that sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a period. It is also important to remember before attempting to write any sentences that they are usually made up of a subject, verb and complement. Furthermore, sentences should never start with the words ‘But’ or ‘And’, unless the text is of a casual nature.
Would you like to improve your spelling ability as well as writing skills? Check out this blog.
Do you think Britons need a boost in spelling? They might well do, if recent studies are anything to go by.
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When trying to improve your writing skills, it is good to go back to basics. Photo via Visual Hunt
Other key lessons for beginners are that names of people and places always begin with an upper case letter, as does the pronoun ‘I’. When using ‘I’ in a sentence, the pronoun should always come last, for example ‘Jillian, Nick and I went to the shops to buy some bread’.
Any teacher of writing skills will know to start off with simple tasks and to gradually build up the learners’ level of expertise and, with it, their confidence. They will no doubt ask you to start by writing short and simple sentences like: ‘I have a pet dog called Harry’, before instructing you to begin writing more complicated sentence structures.
Sentences which include commas, semi-colons and colons within them are a whole other kettle of fish so may be best left until you are a proficient writer.
To better understand how to form a good sentence, writers need to have grasped the basic parts of speech and be able to identify them in texts placed before them. This means that they should recognise a noun from a verb, and an adjective from an adverb before they try to use them in their work. The British Council website offers many relevant pages and courses designed for learners of English, including those wishing to improve their writing skills.
Prompts work well in beginners’ classes, as does role play. An English tutor London might offer their students prompts to get them used to structuring simple sentences. These might include ‘My name is…’ and ‘I live in…’.
By asking pupils to imagine they are in a shop, English tutors can encourage similar basic exchanges to help to build confidence up in the foundations of English.
When a beginner is no longer a beginner and is ready to take the next step in their writing journey, they can then start using more tools. For instance, they can begin to introduce multiple adjectives, form longer sentences and cover broader subject matters. They can also play with the perspective from which the text is being written.
Being a good writer is often down to confidence.
If you are confident in your ability to write a well-structured and error-free piece of text, then you are more likely to go ahead and let your imagination run wild.
Writing is not all about having bold ideas and a vivid imagination, however. Different types of writing skills are required across a range of fields and sectors including journalism and marketing. Is there such a thing as a perfect essay? A writer who is good at delivering facts and does so in a very correct manner might be just as talented a writer as someone who can write 1000 pages of exciting storytelling.
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Individuals can find a range of online courses designed to improve aspects of their writing, yet using free resources can be just as beneficial. Writing is very subjective so a qualification from an awarding body does not tell others what kind of writer you are.
Along the same note, it is almost impossible for an examiner to assert that you have become a good writer, because everybody has their own opinion, as reiterated by novelist and professor Hanif Kureishi (see here). So, even if you pass a particular set of specifications, you could just as easily fall behind by getting writer’s block or by simply being demotivated and less productive than others.
You can either sign up to an online writing programme, which vary in length from a couple of to a dozen weeks, or you can look at websites offering text optimisation tools. There are, for example, websites and apps designed for marketing purposes that turn a basic sentence into a slogan or enhance the given text to make it flow better.
These kinds of self-help products can help you to learn how to improve your own writing on the go, but they do require you to recognise where you are going wrong instead of this being explained to you, as it would be in a class with an English tutor.
Also, whether or not a site is genuine cannot be confirmed, nor can the quality if its content because, as we have already said, language is subjective. Learn how the English language has evolved from its Germanic roots!
Reading and writing come one with the other: there is no point in writing if it is not for readers, and vice-versa. Their close relationship means that people who read a lot are usually good writers whereas those who do not, or cannot, read even one book a month potentially struggle with their written skills.
Reading is the key to improving your writing skills. Photo via VisualHunt
Using reading to your advantage means reading as much and as widely as possible to expand your vocabulary, familiarise yourself with different notions and to appreciate what feelings and emotions the writer is making you feel. It is this latter part which helps to make you a better writer, as it encourages you to learn how to get your readers to relate to you and your story.
Children learn to read before they write, not because reading is easier than writing, but because reading ultimately teaches them about how to do the other. With the two coming hand in hand, reading books should be high on any writer’s agenda.
On Superprof, you can find English tuition throughout the UK for reading, writing and spelling in English.