Top tips for writing essays in a foreign language

Posted by [email protected] on May 28, 2015 at 11:35 AM

It is commonplace to get stuck on writing an essay in your native language let alone having to take up the same task in a foreign language. You might wonder whether the essay you write will be comprehensible in the foreign language which will, in turn, breed anxiety. Here are top tips to avoid this and to jump-start your fluency in writing in a foreign language.

Draft your essay in the foreign language

Doing this first will save you a lot of time during the writing process. When you stick to your target language from the start, you will make the essay more consistent to the conventions of that language. Drafting an essay in your native language and then translating it to a foreign language will not quite work because sentences that flow in one language does not always flow the same way in another. This is because phrases and figures of speech that you intend to use may not exist in both languages.

Think in the foreign language

You will gain the fluency that is required in your essay when you think in the foreign language, especially before you start writing. It will help you write phrases in the foreign language correctly. Read literature or have a conversation with someone in the targeted language. You could look up YouTube videos or web podcasts where conversations are held in that language too. This will refresh your mind with words that you probably would have left out in your essay.

Look at other essays for inspiration

Collect other essays written in the foreign language that inspire you. If they contain good vocabulary, sentence structure, and formulate strong arguments, then use them as guides to give you more confidence to compose your essay. Make sure you have a good dictionary to hand to help if the essay examples prompt you to use words that are new to you.

Proofread your essay thoroughly

Make extra time to run through your essay so you can amend errors that you find before you submit it. Proofreading work in a foreign language will be more difficult than doing it in your native language so make sure you allow yourself the extra time to do this thoroughly. Pay attention to grammar, vocabulary, and gender and plural protocols in the foreign language. You could ask someone else who speaks the language to read it to ensure that your essay is error-free.

Like in all types of writing, clarity and brevity in essays is paramount and, therefore, should not be overlooked when you are writing in another language. The writing process will pan out much easier for you when you apply the first three tips prior to composing your essay – then use the final tip to polish off your essay so it reads well. Remember to think, write and talk in the foreign language beforehand and you will be on your way to writing your essay clearly and confidently.

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Categories: Grammar, Style

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