Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Learning Method: How to improve your English skills? (Writing)

Chapter 4: The Shortcuts for improving your writing skills
Let's not beat around the bush, here are the tips:
Tip 1: Learn from online samples

Whether you are writing CV, appraisal, invitation or just company emails, it is advisable that you always search for samples as part of learning. Learn the styles and the necessary vocabulary to write them professionally. Practise a few times and you should be able to write like an expert. You don't really need to go through a course to do this.

Tip 2: Have a grammar book beside you while writing
I always have a habit of having a grammar book whenever I write, this is to make sure that you establish a good habit of consulting the book whenever you have questions, so that you don't make the same mistake in the future. A good foundation of grammar comes with constant search for answers.

Tip 3: Check dictionary and thesaurus often
Check dictionary for usage of vocab and check the thesaurus for variety of words. Neither do you want to use the words wrongly nor use the same words every time you write.

Tip 4: Think before you write
Have a habit of thinking in your head before you type or write. Some writers spend a lot of time on the keyboard or with a pen and a paper, but find it difficult to write quickly because their mind goes blank. If that happens to you, you should stay away from your computer or your writing tools and construct your thoughts.
Tip 5: Establish writing habit with blog, MSN, SMS in English
Many Hong Kong netizens use these, but not all use English when writing. A good writing habit is actually very easy to establish: look at the ways of communication around you and use English whenever you can when writing.
Tip 6: Think in English, not Chinese
There are good habits and bad habits, if you have a habit of thinking in Chinese when writing, your grammar will most likely have problems. Try to think English in your head and not Chinese, this will, believe it or not, improve your speaking skills as well (because all actions starts in the head).
Tip 7: Construct a mind-map before you start writing
It is highly advisable for one to construct a mind-map before writing, whether for handling tests or not, since one will have a better picture of the entire piece. Any missing thoughts can be easily seen and the piece will look much more organised.
Tip 8: (Handling Writing in a Test) Memorise the keys of the question and check relevance often
Some test-takers find it difficult to score a good grade for exam, one of the reasons is that he strays off-track while writing. To keep every paragraph relevant to the topic, do look back at the question and ask yourself if you are answering the question. I find this super useful!
Tip 9: (Handling Writing in a Test) One argument to one example
Whenever one is writing an essay of argumentation, never forget that "One argument to one example". A good argument without an example to back up is like asking the examiner, "do you have the common sense?" If you were the examiner, would you give this person a good grade if he challenges you like this?
I hope you find these 4 Chapters useful to you. Do refer back whenever you need to.