By Bhalachandra Sahaj
If the English language is not your native language, but you write in it a lot, you might have noticed the difference between your writing and the writing of an English native speaker. Even when your grammar is proper, all the articles are used correctly, and all the prepositions seem to be where they belong, there is still something subtle that slips past your attention and makes your writing not as smooth and natural as you would want it to be. If you have this kind of feeling, the following blog post is for you. In it, I am going to teach you how to improve English, and make your writing in English sound more natural (and probably deceive a native-speaking editor).
So, there are five main aspects you need to pay attention to:
- One of the most common mistakes ESL writers make is composing sentences in their native language, and then translating them into English. As a result, their syntax and phrasing sound crude. To solve this problem, try thinking in English on the fly. Start with simple things—for example, commenting on things you see while going to work in the morning—and gradually move onto more complex concepts.
- Watch American (British, Canadian, Australian—depends on what exactly you need) news. Why news? TV anchors usually speak the most proper and refined English language, which you can (and should) copy. Besides, you can learn a lot of useful idioms, and later use them in your writing.
- You should use the most typical and common words, preferring them over their fancy synonyms that no one knows.
- Train your English by topics. This might look like a task for middle school students, but it is an effective method to choose one specific direction, and learn all the vocabulary, idioms, and phrases referring to it.
- Do not try to be natural. As an editor, I have often see authors who probably thought that Americans love using slang and all kinds of contractions, such as “gonna” or “ain’t.” What can definitely make your writing look more English-like is literacy, simplicity (in form, not content), and conveying a message succinctly.
Observing these recommendations will help you sound more like a native English-speaking writer. Good luck.