Many people struggle with writing in English and it can seem like a real challenge to improve. Don’t worry, though. Here are some simple steps that you can take to improve your written English and impress people with your writing skills.
Expand your vocabulary
To express yourself clearly, you need a good active vocabulary. That’s not just being able to recognise lots of words – it means actually being able to use them correctly. Do this by learning new words with example sentences, not just word lists.
Tip: When you learn a new word, try learn all the forms of that word and the prepositions that are usually used with it. (For example, rather than just the word ‘depend’, make a note of: to depend on, to be dependent on, a dependant.)
Master English spelling
You must know how to spell those words correctly. Incorrect spelling changes the meaning of your sentence. For example: ‘bare’ and ‘bear’ sound the same but ‘bare’ means naked and ‘bear’ is a large animal. Additionally, incorrect spelling makes it difficult for the reader to understand what you’ve written.
Tip: Practice your spelling using flash cards and test yourself whenever you have some spare time.
People often say that we learn to write best by reading. Reading in English is useful in many ways. It is a great way to get an idea of the different styles of writing and see how to use words appropriately.
Tip: Choose books or articles with topics that interest you.Learning shouldn’t be boring. Read each text several times to make sure you understand how to use new words and expressions in the text.
Improve your grammar
Grammar is very important because it improves the quality of your writing. Always use the appropriate tense and remember to use punctuation. Punctuation is a great way to make your writing clear and fluent.
Tip: Always proof-read your writing twice. The first time, look for general mistakes and the second time look for mistakes with the particular grammar point your are studying at the moment.
Just do it!
Writing can be daunting. However, the best way to improve is get a pen and paper or sit in front of your computer and actually write. Be prepared to write several versions of each text because even for professional writers, the first draft is never perfect. Remember, practice makes perfect, so now is the best time to sit down and get started with our free English quizzes!
This article is sponsored by Cambridge English.
There are so many different ways to practice English, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.
This is why Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge, has developed Learning English. It has everything you need, all in one place and for free.
There are lots of short, interactive activities to help you practice and improve your English. Each activity focuses on a different language skill, such as reading, writing, listening, pronunciation, grammar or vocabulary.
The activities are all designed for use on mobile devices, so you can practice English at home or on the go, making use of even a few spare minutes. Make it a habit to practice English regularly, by doing a short 5-10 minute activity every day. Learning ‘little and often’ is more effective than occasional intensive study.
1) Find the right activity for you
It’s important to find learning activities at the right level. If an activity is far too difficult, it can be demoralizing. However, if you stay in your comfort zone, your progress will be slower.
You can check your level of English by doing a short, multiple-choice test. Then choose the right practice activities at your target level: Independent (CEFR level B1-B2) or Proficient (CEFR level C1-C2).
The unique search function allows you to practice English how and when you choose – by selecting the skill, the level and the amount of time you have.
2) Improve your English writing skills
Writing essays using appropriate language is an essential skill for academic study. Improving your English writing skills will help you to succeed.
- Independent-level learners can practice using linking words and phrases to create longer sentences and connect their ideas.
- Proficient-level learners can practice using referencing words and discourse markers to structure their writing and develop their written fluency.
3) Improve your English reading skills
Reading textbooks, articles and research publications is a critical part of any academic course. Improving your reading skills will help you to succeed in your academic studies.
- Independent-level learners can practice reading quickly to find specific information in a text.
- Proficient-level learners can practice reading carefully to understand abstract concepts and academic arguments written in English.
4) Improve your English listening skills
University students need to follow what is said in lectures and take part in seminar discussions. Practice listening for the main arguments, opinions and attitudes of a speaker.
- Independent-level learners can practice listening for the main points and ideas in a presentation or discussion.
- Proficient-level learners can practice listening for subtly expressed attitudes based on the words and intonation used.
5) Improve your pronunciation
Develop your confidence when presenting or asking questions in seminars, by improving your English pronunciation.
- Independent-level learners can practice pronouncing different English sounds, such as long and short “i” sounds.
- Proficient-level learners can practice different word stresses and learn how this can change the meaning of a word or a sentence.
6) Improve your grammar and vocabulary
Keep refreshing your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. This will help you to create well-formed sentences and build your confidence when using English.
- Independent-level learners can practice using past simple and present perfect verb tenses and adverbs in different situations.
- Proficient-level learners can practice using “which” as a relative pronoun and different vocabulary for qualifying statements and opinions.
7) Try a practice test
A Cambridge English exam will prove that you have the right level of English and help you to achieve your academic and professional goals. Find out if you are ready by trying a practice test. It’s important to get used to the types of questions in the exam. This will build your confidence and develop your exam technique.
About Cambridge English
Cambridge English Language Assessment is part of the University of Cambridge. We develop and produce the most valuable range of qualifications for learners and teachers of English in the world. Over 5 million people in 130 countries take our exams every year. Around the world over 20,000 universities, employers, government ministries and other organizations accept our certificates.