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Writing in a foreign language. Does only our mother tongue give us the opportunity to fully express ourselves?

Imagine you like reading, writing and some people even call you a master of words. You have your own webpage or just hide your piece of writing in a drawer as a well-kept secret. Someday, however, you are thinking to yourself:

“Maybe I should do exactly the same thing in a foreign language. I could try to write something more than a simple letter to a friend or a short article for my English classes. It could be so much fun.”

But isn’t good writing restricted only to those of us who really have some kind of capacity or a pure talent? Can any language learner develop his writing skills to the top or his destiny is to remain average? And if someone can do anything about it, what could it be?

It is quite obvious that as a learner you usually do not possess the same abilities as a native speaker does. Language is not only about a bunch of words, expressions and good grammar skills. It is a special kind of feeling, flow and a deep understanding of its rules. Most of a time, a native speaker knows exactly if those words fit together or not. If they are a perfect match. Moreover, he can move easily between the meanders of different styles if he needs it, to show different emotions, turn his writing into something truly exciting and moving.

On the other hand we can find foreigners who possess exceptional writing skills in a language that is not theirs. It proves, that although it requires a lot of work, it is possible. You are not going to become the next Hemingway or Shakespeare, but you can develop your writing skills.

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  1. Read it

The more you read, the more expressions you get to know. Every sentence can be divided into small pieces that you can later use like puzzles and put freely together. Just need to be careful not to mix formal, informal and old-fashioned vocabulary in one sentence. Remember not every expression or word can be directly used in your piece of writing.

Moreover, books can serve as a great source of inspiration that can help you to boost your imagination and creative skills. They can show you what is appropriate and what simply doesn’t work.

  1. Practice it

Once you have enough knowledge you can start your practice. It is recommended to write a few word daily, cause the more you write the more proficient you become. It does not appear out of thin air and you won’t become out of a sudden blessed with words and you texts won’t turn out amazing. Remember everything is about practice.

  1. Play it

As I wrote at the beginning, language is not a bunch of rules, so give it a play. As long as  it is something you practice you can constantly try new things and observe like all the elements are slowly fitting together. You can encounter many obstacles and make a lot of mistakes on the way, but it’s good to experiment just a little bit.

You don’t know how to do it?

Just try to connect the words into new ideas or metaphors, change the order or substitute the words to expend your vocabulary. Do not try to translate every word just like at the beginning of your learning journey. Remember that a foreign language is not as your mother tongue. It has different structures, word order and single words can be linked with each other in an incredibly new way, far away from the limits of your imagination and understanding.

  1. Look for your own style

If you want to write something captivating you need to look for your own style. It is no good to copy the others and their work. You simply need to stay yourself in writing. It should be your reflection, just as in music, painting or any other creative activity. You just can’t pretend to be someone else. Most of the time it does not work at all.

  1. Boost your grammar skills

Grammar may not seem the most important, but it will definitely help you to organize better your writing. Your sentences will become more precise and consistent. And that, in consequence, give you the chance to communicate better your ideas and feelings.

It does not necessarily need to be boring (for example, doing tonnes of exercises). You can as well try to use the language, for example talking with your friends or chatting with native speakers, or observe like the grammar works in a simple text or a sentence. It will help you to discover new patterns and make your language more flexible.

And what to do next?

Do not waste your precious time and sit in front of your computer screen or a blank shit of paper and start writing. Just remember what is the most important is fun. So let’s play!

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