It is true that there can be no problem that doesn’t have a solution. However, this truism helps little when you are struggling to write in English when it is not your native language.
You were a good student, you read all your revision books, and you passed all of your tests with flying colours, but you can get quite a rude awakening when you come to realise that if your English is not absolutely perfect in the big real world then people are going to be pick up on even the tiniest errors.
Unfortunately the chapter summaries you relied on so much to get you through that Jane Austen novel in school are just not available to help you deal with this. Do not despair, though, help is at hand. Here are some tips that will help all the non-native english speakers out there.
You Are Not Alone
You should never doubt your own ability to do something, but if you do there are a whole host of non-native published authors in English who you can look to for inspiration. People have been successfully doing this for years and the number will only increase as learning methods and ready exposure to real English increases. Whether it be a piece of literature, a technical work, or even a revision book, non-natives write perfectly in English everyday, so there is no reason why you can’t join them.
Teacher Doesn’t Always Know Best
This is not meant as any disrespect to teachers, but it is highly possible that while your teacher at school had all the best intentions in the world their methods and use of the language were a little dated. A great way for you to lose any outdated terms and phrases is for you to dive into the English culture as the native speakers experience it for themselves. Check out some TV shows, read some magazines or blogs. It won’t be long before you learn to pick up on the little words and phrases that have worked their way into the collective vocabulary.
Google Translate is Not God
One thing that you should definitely avoid when trying to get your own blog off the ground is the temptation to just write in your own language and then throw it all into Google translate. Of course this service is brilliant for little things, but it will only mess up your writing if you try to use it wholesale. A better way to check that you have everything right is to get a native speaking friend to check things over for you. A real person’s input is always better than a computer programme, even if it is from Google.
Keep it Simple
One of the biggest mistakes non-native english speakers make when trying to write in English is that they try too hard to make an impression. Their writing becomes showy and overtop, and this only leads to often embarrassing mistakes. The best writers always keep it simple where possible. Nobody likes a show off, and nor do they enjoy reading something that is obviously forced and not natural. Remember back to those helpful chapter summaries when you were a kid; the main reason that they helped was because they simplified everything. This is what you need to do when you write.
These few simple tips are not going to give you the magical ability to go out and write your own blog in perfect English, but I do hope that they will give you some added confidence to believe that you really can do this. The biggest thing you will need is some perseverance. Everybody makes mistake, and everybody needs a little help. In the past you had your revision books, now you have to see that the whole wide world of English is there to help you if you let it. Good luck!
By Alisha Bergman. Alisha is a Russian born German who has lived in the UK for the last 15 years. Alisha is a blogger and content developer for York Notes – a company that helps those why try to understand and study English Literature.