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Advice for ESL Writers

Some of the basic problems that turn up in papers written by English as a Second Language students are surprisingly uniform. This is both good news and bad news for ESL writers. The bad news is that these problems become ingrained over time, and it's difficult to break out of old writing habits. The good news is that we can focus on relatively few trouble spots in order to show quick improvements in writing.

The most universal ESL trouble spots arise from fundamental differences between English and other languages. Since most Asian languages, for example, do not contain the same types of inflected words that English contains, students accustomed to communicating in these languages are simply not in the habit of using English inflection. An inflected word, broadly speaking, is any word that changes form depending on context by taking an affix. These include nouns that become plural and verbs that change tense. English inflection becomes intensely complex because words in a sentence have to agree with each other, and changing the form of one word often requires changing the form of several others.

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The best way to become more proficient in writing English actually doesn't require much extra work, if one is already comfortable with the vocabulary and the basic subject-verb structure of the language. Quick improvements can result from simply listening closely to good English usage. That might mean changing the radio station in your car to something like NPR, and paying close attention to the most formal talk radio out there can easily be more instructive than a thousand lectures. Of course, reading magazines that focus on good writing can't hurt. Entertainment Weekly, for example, actually has some good writing that won't put most students to sleep. A good number of commercial magazines, though, contain fairly bad writing, so choose carefully.

Our essay editing service helps student writers to overcome the challenges that writing academic English poses. Our editing and proofreading services correct grammar using Word's track changes function, which allows our clients, if they wish, to review the changes their editors make closely. In those clients who do so, we witness significant improvement in grammar over a short period of time.


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