Hamood, a recent Omani student of IH Manchester, made great progress in his writing skills. In this interview he talks about his experience, how he feels about his improvement, and gives some tips on how to improve your writing.
Academic writing can be difficult, especially under time pressure such as in an exam. There are lots of things that you need to remember; overall structure, grammar, sentence structures, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling, the list goes on. So how can you improve? And what should you focus on?
Firstly, I would say that it’s important to remember that these things take time. You cannot become an amazing writer overnight. That said, improving your writing is definitely possible. I would advise that you break it into different areas and focus on one at a time.
If you would like to improve your academic writing and feel the same sense of pride that Hamood felt, here are a few tips on areas to work on.
Increase your range of academic vocabulary
Improving your academic vocabulary is a necessary step. If you have lessons, make sure that you review the vocabulary after the lesson and try to include it in some writing. If you don’t have lessons, try reading academic material so you can learn new vocabulary, or looking at academic word lists and seeing which words you know and try to learn new ones.
It is well-known that spelling in English is difficult. When native speakers are in school they have regular spelling tests to learn how to spell many of the most frequent words. This is something you also need to do. When you learn new vocabulary, think about how frequently you might need this word. If you think it’s a word that will be important for you, then make sure to learn the spelling. Write it out multiple times, test yourself at a later date, maybe get a friend to test you too.
Vocabulary is rarely used alone. It is usually found in a chunk of language along with other words. It will really help you to try to learn how these chunks are put together, and use them in the same way, rather than trying to think of new ways of putting words together in your writing. It will make your writing sound more natural. And it will make your writing faster because you won’t have to think about every word that you write.
Consider different sentence types
Academic style is also important. Try to write a list of different academic sentence structures, for example, conditional sentences, relative clauses, participle clauses etc. and try to use one of each in a piece of writing. When you have finished your writing, check it and see how many you have managed to use. Maybe see if you can change some of your sentences to a new structure after you have finished.
Learn how to structure different genres of writing
Each type of writing will have a different structure. Read as many examples as you can and see if you can find a pattern in how the paragraphs are organised and where different bits of information are provided. If you have a teacher, ask them if the pattern you’ve noticed is correct. Then try to use this pattern in your own writing.