Challenges in Grammar, Writing and Editing When English is Not the Writers’ Native Language


Written by Angel Candelario

My first language is Spanish though I have spoken English for 23 of my 42 years. But I still sometimes get the grammar wrong. Sometimes I can be too informal when greater formality would be normal for a native speaker. If when I’m tired and I struggle for vocabulary the Spanish word still often comes to me before the English and when tired I can make a bit of a mismatch of both if I’m not careful.

If you want to write in English, become a writer, and English is your second language, you can do it by following these simple steps. Good luck.

1. Examine your current skill by doing a simple test on the internet. Search on the Internet for English literacy tests and choose one which suits your style. Once you have found out on which level your English stands, then find the root of your weaknesses in parts of speech such as grammar, spelling mistakes, vocabulary and most of all your style of writing. Writing mostly depends on your talent as a writer so you can easily improve your mechanics.

2. Make a habit to learn five new words every day using the dictionary and thesaurus. Write them in sentences using the grammar you are learning, this way you will learn the right usage of your new vocabulary. At first you might not notice your improvement but by doing this you can put new words in use and soon you will be able to see the difference.

3. Make a habit of listening to the news, it will improve both your English and writing abilities. Read lots of books, newspapers, and articles in English. This will help you convert your own writing ability into English writing ability. Reading other books will improve your writing style in English, bear in mind that you can’t copy people’s work, but you can always learn from reading, reading books might inspire your writing as well.

4. There is a Web site, test_and_improve.jsp, containing a free Fog Index calculator. One can enter text from a word processing document. Unlike the grammar checker in Microsoft Word, this program provides advice on improving the clarity of excessively long sentences and solving other grammatical problems in the document.

Best of Luck!

Angel Candelario

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