Check and double-check your writing
I often highlight the errors in a piece of ESL writing, like this:
She was excellent artist, but not enjoy talk about his work. ✗
(She was an excellent artist, but did not enjoy talking about her work. ✔)
Most students can quickly correct up to 50% of their own errors. Yes, 50%.
‘Oh, no! I forgot. I knew that really!’ they say.
There are plenty of tips on how to proofread your own work. For example, reading backwards, printing out on paper, reading aloud… and, of course, don’t trust your computer’s grammar and spelling checker to fix everything.
Find a friend – but don’t pretend
Should you ask your helpful English-speaking friend to correct everything you write?
Yes, if you’re about to publish online or in print.
No, if you’re writing for your English teacher, who wants to see the true level of your English.
Embrace your errors
Some people hate looking at their errors – they just click ‘accept all changes’. Others make the decision to look and learn: ‘OK. I used the wrong tense there, and here I forgot to use ‘the’, and this mistake was a spelling error… I’ll remember that for next time.’
Don’t rely 100% on listening
Do you learn English by watching English language movies or TV? That’s great, but you may miss word endings or small words. Try watching TV with captions to test yourself.
For example, you hear: They a world class company. I check the figure.✗
She really said: They’re a world class company. I checked the figures. ✔
Watch out for mix-ups
As your English gets better, watch out for ‘mix-ups’ – where you know two correct ways to write something, but get them confused.
For example: I’m looking forward to see you. ✗ Oh, no, that’s wrong!
Perhaps you knew I'm looking forward to seeing you and I hope to see you – and mixed them up?
Write it right
Even English speakers can sometimes write the wrong word. When we think of a homophone (when two words sound the same), our brain tricks us…
Right/write, their/there/they’re, it’s/its, allowed/aloud, to/too/two, bare/bear… these are a few of the words that trip us up. Words that look similar, like were/where or then/than, can be a problem too.
Sorry! That’s English!