Do you want to take the IELTS exam? Or maybe you just want to improve writing skills ?
It doesn’t matter, if you want to improve writing skills dramatically, you shouldn’t miss this lesson. We are going to learn 7 tips to take your English writing skill to the next level.
How to evaluate my writing to improve writing skills?
One of the best standards to evaluate your writing skill is the Band descriptor of IELTS. The Band descriptor is a list of criteria that shows the good elements of a good piece of writing. So, in this lesson, I will use the band descriptor of IELTS as the basis for my tips and suggestions on improving your writing skill.
1. Start with sentences to improve writing skills !
This tip is very obvious. As the building block of every text is the sentence. So, improving your sentences directly means improving your text.
But how can you improve your sentences? Here grammar and vocabulary play key roles. In fact, looking at the IELTS band descriptor you can see that 50% of your writing skill mark is dedicated to English vocabulary and grammar or lexical resources.
When we talk about grammar we’re talking about range and accuracy.
What is grammar range?
“It is the variety of grammatical structures you use. Like using different tenses or using complex sentences.”
What is accuracy?
“Accuracy means the correct use of grammar and avoiding mistakes.”
So clearly, the first step to improve writing skills is improving your grammar and vocabulary.
In fact, one of the biggest mistakes students who want to take part in the IELTS exam make, is to start by learning the techniques of the IELTS exam however the first step should be improving your general English knowledge.
2.Improve writing skills by choosing the vocabulary and the style of writing
Look at these three sentences:
- Shoes are designed to be destroyed one day. So you will need to buy another pair.
- The design philosophy of shoes includes their short life span, so as to create the urgency of replacement.
- It’s part of the company’s scheme of planned obsolescence to sell merchandise with a limited lifespan!
All three sentences have one meaning. So which one is better?
Well, you might say the third one or the second one is better than the first one. But it’s not that way. All three can be good. It really depends on your audience.
Choose your audience, choose your style to improve writing skills
Who are you writing for? Are you writing to a friend of yours? Maybe you’re writing for a magazine or a newspaper or you want to post it on a website or maybe you are taking the IELTS or TOEFL exam or any other English exams.
Depending on your goal or your audience, you can use any of the three options. However, don’t mix them up together!
If you are writing to a friend of yours, stick to a friendly tone. If you are writing for a magazine or a newspaper, stick to the formal tone. If you’re taking part in the IELTS exam or TOEFL exam in the writing section, stick to your academic tone. So, tip number two is to keep the style and vocabulary coherent to improve writing skills .
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3. Give feelings to your sentences using adjectives and adverbs
Look at this sentence:
- The driver drives
The driver here is a noun and can be described by an adjective.
Drive is a verb and can be described with an adverb.
So instead of saying the driver drives, I can say:
- The angry driver drives angrily
- The careful driver drives carefully
The meaning of the sentence and the feeling of the sentence changes accordingly.
So try to use adjectives to describe nouns and use adverbs to describe verbs.
Let me give you another example of a longer sentence:
- Our hotel room in the city of Venice had a view of the sea.
Let’s take a look at the four nouns here:
- Hotel room
Let’s use four adjectives to give some feelings to this sentence.
- Magnificent hotel room
- Exquisite city
- spectacular view
- Beautiful sea
Let’s read the sentence again:
- Our magnificent hotel room in the exquisite city of Venice had a spectacular view of the beautiful sea.
Here’s an example of using adverbs:
- He was walking and talking on the phone.
In this sentence we have two verbs: walk and talk. Let’s try to describe them using adverbs of manner.
- He was walking calmly and talking quietly on the phone.
Or in another way
- He was walking fast and talking angrily on the phone.
As you can see, the same sentence with two different sets of adverbs can send two different messages to your audience.
4. Use linking devices to connect your sentences and form paragraphs
Let’s check the band descriptor of IELTS. It says that 25% of your writing mark is about coherence and cohesion. So paying attention to these two factors will help you improve writing skills.
What are coherence and cohesion?
Coherence is how well your ideas are linked and connected throughout your piece of writing or your text.
If you are talking about the benefits of exercise you might not want to talk about how monkeys ate bananas. Because it’s irrelevant and the two ideas are not linked.
Instead, you might want to talk about diet and pairing diet with exercise and how that can help to improve your health.
What is cohesion?
Cohesion is how well your sentences are linked to one another.
Look at these three sentences:
- People are really concerned about their health.
- More and more fast food is being consumed.
- Our lifestyle is becoming less active.
What is the relationship between sentences one and two and between sentences two and three?
The first sentence talks about the fact that people are worried about their health. However, sentence two says something which is quite the opposite of sentence one. It says that people are eating more and more fast food. So, clearly, this is a contrast.
How can you link the first sentence to the second? You can use the phrase “on the contrary” or “however”.
- People are really concerned about their health on the contrary, more and more fast food is being consumed.
What is the relationship between the second and the third sentence?
The third sentence is adding another idea to the second sentence. It is in contrast with the first one, but it is an addition to the second one.
So, in order to link the second and the third sentences, you can say “in addition”, “additionally” or “moreover”.
- More and more fast food is being consumed moreover our lifestyle is becoming less active.
Now you see that the three sentences are linked together and they can form a cohesive paragraph.
What are other linking devices?
We have linking devices of contrast, purpose, addition, adding new ideas, results, and consequences, etc.
There are many many many linking devices In the English language and we will focus on them in future lessons.
5. Divide your ideas and arguments into different paragraphs
How do you know when to finish one paragraph and start a new one?
Well to understand the logic let’s have a look at the band descriptor.
Looking at the band descriptor under coherence and cohesion for band score 7, you can see “presents a clear central topic within each paragraph”. So, each paragraph should talk about only one central topic.
How do you decide when to finish one paragraph?
When your central topic is over and you’re going to talk about your second central topic.
- Start a paragraph
- Present your central topic
- Provide examples
- Talk about your experiences
- Provide some evidence from research
*if you want to talk about something else, go to the second paragraph.
Imagine you want to write an essay with the title “how to live longer”. You may have three ideas:
- Stress management
You can have three paragraphs with three central topics. First paragraph about the benefits of exercising. The second paragraph is about the importance of diet and the third paragraph is about the necessity of stress management.
6. Improve writing skills (Have an evidence-based tone!)
Have a look at this sentence:
- Having a more active lifestyle leads to better health.
This sentence is talking about a fact. We all know that if we do some physical activity we will be healthier.
So instead of just stating the fact, try to sound evidence-based. You can use “research shows that” at the beginning of your sentence. Your sentence will be like this:
- Research shows that having a more active lifestyle will lead to better health.
You can also use “research suggests that” or “there is evidence to suggest that”.
Now compare these three sentences:
- Having a more active lifestyle leads to better health.
- Research shows/research suggests that having a more active lifestyle leads to better health.
- There is evidence to suggest that having a more active lifestyle leads to better health.
As you can see, the second and the third ones sound very academic.
By using these structures you will sound firm, strong, and evidence-based and it feels more academic.
7. Revise your text
The final tip to improve writing skills is very simple but it is often ignored. Make sure you have enough time to go through your text again. By reading your text for a second time and if possible aloud, you will be able to recognize the little or big grammar mistakes that you have made.
and you can correct some choices of vocabulary or the tone and style of your essay.
This stage is very important, make sure you have at least five minutes to go through your text for a second time.
That’s everything for this lesson, make sure you use these tips to improve your writing skill, and let me know what you think about this lesson!
2 thoughts on “How to improve writing skills in English?”
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