IWTYAL 098: Improving Writing Skills Without A Teacher

Tomasz asks: “How can I improve my writing in English without a teacher?”

In this episode:

Three powerful ways to get better at writing:

  1. Use a community site like Lang-8.com to write diary entries and get corrections from native speakers
  2. Reverse translation – click here to learn about that
  3. Exam books give specific writing exercises and sample answers…

Your Homework!

Help me create an amazing feature for the 100th episode!

I’d like to create a montage of voices of podcast listeners from around the world, all giving one piece of language advice they’ve learned from the show.

This would be such a great way to commemorate the 100th episode, and provide motivation for all of you out there learning languages on your own.

If you’d like to participate, please click the link below and leave a short message including the following information:

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  2. Where you’re from
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  • dandiprat

    You can also get writing corrections on italki. I haven’t tried it yet; it’s one of those things I always mean to get around to, but never actually do.

  • Wesley

    Hello Olly,
    I’m Wesley from Brazil. I started listening to your podcast after you were interviewed on Luke’s English Podcast and, to be honest, that was a great episode. The advice and motivation you gave Luke about what he could do in order to carry on learning French would also be helpful for many other people. Your website and podcast are invaluable resources for anyone learning any language and I thank you for that.
    This is another brilliant episode of your podcast I agree that Tomasz’s question is great. For many of us, non-native English speakers, mastering English writing is fundamental because we have to use it on a daily basis to do essays, send business emails and letters of complaint, to name but a few. Of course, not everyone needs to write to this level or with this frequency, but given that English is the today’s lingua franca, it isn’t something that can be simply ignored.
    I’d really never given much priority to writing until I decided to take the IELTS test. I just wanted to have an idea of how much progress I’d made in the language as hadn’t followed any particular method while learning. In fact, I’ve always been quite disorganised.
    One book that helped me to prepare for the writing part of the exam is ‘IELTS Advantage’, by Richard Brown and Lewis Richards. The authors have an approach that guides you through understanding the essay question and developing the skills needed to achieve a grade of about 7.0, which is equivalent to C1 on the CEFR scale. There are also fully discussed sample answers and exercises that allow you to practise what you just learned. I don’t mean to promote it, but any non-native English speaker who has to write for academic purposes can benefit from this book.
    I’ve never heard about the reverse translation method before; it must indeed be quite hard. I certainly will be reading your article about it and, maybe, try it some time.
    Thank you, once again, for this new episode. Now, I’ll be eagerly waiting for the next ones.
    Cheers!