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Improving Your Written English Skills at Work and Home

Updated: May 10


When someone tells you that you need to improve your written English, it can be difficult to know where to start. This article will help you decide what you need to improve, and give you some helpful ideas on how to start practicing and improving.

 

Which English do I Need to Learn?


There's British English, Canadian, American, Australian, and more, but in the business world most companies use basic American English. The only reason to learn the spelling, grammar, and special vocabulary from another English-speaking country is if you know the company needs this specifically. If the company you want to work for doesn't say which English they use, use American English!

 

How do I Know What I Need to Improve?


Improving your English writing skills can mean a lot of different things, so it's useful to get some help with where to start. The table below has some different ways you can test your writing skills to find out what needs improving:


Free Ways to Find Out What You Need to Improve

Paid Ways to Find Out What You Need to Improve

Using ChatGPT to Find Your Mistakes


You can ask ChatGPT for feedback and get helpful information about any writing problems you have. It will give you feedback on the length of your sentences, your grammar, how easy it is to read, and more. But remember, ChatGPT is a robot with no feelings, and you should never give it any personal information!

 

How to get ChatGPT to assess your writing:


  1. Go to ChatGPT and make a free account.

  2. Copy this sentence, and send it to the chatbot: "If I send you some text can you give me feedback on my English writing skills?"

  3. Copy some text you have written and send it to the chatbot.

  4. Ask ChatGPT: "What grammar do I need to improve?"

  5. Now ask ChatGPT: "Can you make that feedback ESL-friendly?"

If you follow these 5 steps ChatGPT should send you ESL (English as a Second Language) friendly feedback. You can even ask for explanations of how to use punctuation (, . ? "). More on ChatGPT later.

 

Improving Your English Writing


Now you have identified some areas for improvement you can start making some changes. To help you on that journey we have some recommendations for how you can begin:

 

Good Places to Start


There are some basic grammar rules that when understood, will help you improve your writing skills a lot. A good place to start is to use a grammar book like Raymond Murphy's English Grammar in Use and work through the explanations and exercises. Answers are provided at the back of the book.

 

These are some good grammar rules to learn first:

  • Singular (1) and plural (2+) nouns.

  • Definite (the) and indefinite (a/an) articles.

  • Important tenses (grammar to express time).

  • Commas (,) periods (.) and paragraphs.


Getting a Language Exchange Email Partner


If you want to improve your English writing skills for free you can use Language Exchange. Language exchange helps people who want to learn languages connect and teach each other their native languages. All you need to do is sign up for a free account and make a profile. You can search for an interesting language exchange email partner who writes in English and wants to improve their writing in your native language.

 

Without a paid membership you can't start a new conversation, you can only reply when someone contacts you. You can make your free profile and wait, or pay for a membership and contact people yourself. Memberships are not expensive though at $5.99 USD a month.

 

Using Free Email and Document Templates


If you need help with formatting a document professionally, there are some great examples of templates to help you below.



You can find some great templates for any documents that are not covered in the links above with a search for "English <document name> Template" in a search engine like Google.

 

Using AI to Improve Your Writing


ChatGPT can be very helpful when you are writing, and not just for finding your mistakes. You can ask it to make your writing clearer, more professional, and lots of other things.


Here are some common examples of situations where ChatGPT can help you change what you have written:


Task

Command

You need help making your writing shorter and simpler.

Can you make this text shorter and clearer? <Paste your text here>

You have notes from a meeting and need them written as actionable bullet points.

Can you turn this text into a bulleted list of actionable tasks? <Paste your text here>

You have a list of bullet points that you need as a paragraph.

Can you turn these bullet points into a summary statement? <Paste your text here>

You wrote a message to someone that you feel needs to be more direct.

Can you make this message more direct and to the point? <Paste your text here>

ChatGPT will write documents for you if you ask it to, but it is not recommended that you do this. Using AI to write for you will not improve your language skills and you will continue to find writing English very difficult in your job. AIs also make a lot of mistakes and that could make you look bad. You should always check what the AI has changed and if you think it makes sense.

 

Paying for Formal English Lessons


If you think you need more support with your written English, it's always a good idea to take some formal lessons with an English Teacher. Some people also learn quicker and more effectively this way! If you have used translation software to read this article, this is a sign that lessons would be a good idea for you.

 

A good private teacher should be able to find out your individual learning needs, but will be more expensive than group lessons. Group lessons will also be helpful for you, but you should expect slower progress because you get less individual time with your teacher.

 

When looking for a good English teacher, try to find someone who:


  • is a qualified ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

  • has lots of positive reviews online.

  • can teach you privately (at home or online).

  • teaches Business English.

  • is recommended by a friend or colleague.

  • will let you have a free trial lesson.

  • you trust and feel comfortable with.


You might not be able to find all these things in one teacher, but the more they have the better your learning experience will be.

 

Free Spelling and Grammar Checkers


Many free writing checker tools do a great job of correcting your written English to remove most spelling and grammar mistakes. At Go2, we mostly use the writing checker Grammarly because the free version works well and is easy to use. You can install it as a Chrome extension or use it directly on their website.

 

Grammarly will underline your spelling and grammar mistakes for you as you type, and you can correct them with just one click. You can also find some other grammar checkers at the end of the article.

 

Common Problems Writing in English


There are some common problems many people have when writing in English, so we asked a qualified English Language Trainer what they are and how to overcome them:

 

Translating from Your Native Language


It's natural to want to think and write in your native language, but it can be a problem when writing, or even planning to write, in English. Many of your ideas in your native language will not translate to English. The best way to work around this is to plan your writing with a bullet-point list of things you need to say.


  • Do your planning in English.

  • Write a simple bullet-point list of what you want to say.

  • Organize your list in an order that makes sense.

  • Now write out your points the best that you can.

  • Read your work at the end to fix any mistakes you can see.


Staying in Your Vocabulary 'Comfort Zone'


It feels more comfortable using the words we already know when writing in another language, but it keeps you in a 'comfort zone' where you can't improve. Using more specific words and increasing your vocabulary will help you improve your English writing skills, and for that you need to learn new things.

 

If you see or hear English every day at work, you can make a list of 5 words and what they mean each week. Then set yourself a goal of learning and using these words as much as you can in the next working week. If you don't use English at work, you can look for lists online like 50 Words You Need To Know to find business English vocabulary for you to learn. Remember to listen to pronunciation guides for new words if you have not heard how people say them, and you can improve your speaking at the same time!

 

Wrap Up


There are so many ways to improve your written English skills and they range from free to paid, business to private, and from a book to a person. Try different ways until you find what works best for you.

 

The best thing you can do to improve your English writing skills is to read and write in English as often as you can, and to ask English speakers around you for feedback. Get started today and you will find that improving your writing skills is not as complicated as it looks.

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