6. Improve your... Writing Skills

Everyone thinks that you practise what you have learnt by speaking. It’s something that I hear all the time from my students: “Maybe we can have a conversational lesson to practise what we’ve learnt.” 

It doesn’t work that way. Imagine, you’ve just learnt about the tenses, and you want to have a conversation to practise: Every time you have to say something to me, you’re stressed and under pressure because you need time to think about which tense is the right tense to use in order to accurately say what you want to say. And if it’s not, then we have to interrupt the conversation to explain why it’s wrong. Any time that I’ve tried “just conversation” sessions, I always end up spending more time teaching than just having a conversation about something.  Ideally, in conversational lessons, there should be no teaching. Right or wrong; it doesn’t matter. It’s only about practising the action of speaking and interacting. You can’t practise the way learners think they can this way.

Writing, however, is the place to do that. Writing, that very important skill that is often ignored or not focused on enough in schools and lessons.

Writing is the way you can practise grammar and creating language. When speaking, you have no time and you are under pressure. When writing, you have time to think about and analyse your choices, time to recall things that you have learnt. The more you practise this process, the faster your brain will become when choosing which grammar points of vocabulary to use. You also have the ability to review what you have written and change it; it happens a lot that people make mistakes because they just haven’t had enough time to think about it, not because they don’t know. It’s normal. Self-correction is very important for many reasons when learning, and it really helps with your development as well.

Keep a diary or a journal. At the end of each day, write about what you did that day. Whenever you learn new grammar or vocabulary in lessons, try to use it as much as possible in your diary, so you are always practising. For example, if you learn Present Simple, try to then use a lot of Present Simple in your daily writing. 

Do this for at least 10-15 minutes every day, then write more as you get better, and start to write about things that interest you.