Eleven Steps to Improve Your English Writing Skills I. Reading and Listening

I. Reading and Listening

by Owen Fourie

Steps 1 – 2

People who are learning English, particularly as a second or foreign language, will find these steps useful.

For those who are determined to improve their English usage, these steps will be beneficial as

  • a private course if you are in business or any other walk of life where English is used;
  • a supplement to your college work, if you have the time;
  • a private course if you are not yet in college, or if you are not going to college at all;
  • a supplement to your high school studies, if you have the time.

There are, as the title indicates, eleven steps to improve your English writing skills. These steps will come to you in a short series of articles. These are things that you need to do, so use this blog and this self-help category as a reference point for your personal development.

Step 1: Read English

To write well, you have to read much. You have a daily requirement of food and drink in order to live and function. Reading English is a daily requirement if you wish to write in this language.

Read as many stories as you can find. Short stories, novels, and plays will provide an enjoyable way to become familiar with written English.

Avoid reading books on the Internet. The text is not always accurate, and there are too many distractions when you are on line. It is better to have an actual book that you can read without interruption.

The most inexpensive way to acquire the books you need is to become a member of your nearest library. Librarians will be glad to assist you by recommending good literature and showing you where to find these works.

It is possible to borrow more than one book at a time. You might find, though, that it will be better to focus on one book and read it from cover to cover. The return date will help you to discipline yourself to accomplish the reading in a set time.

One way to do this is to

  • look at how many pages there are in the book (let’s say there are 300 pages);
  • look at how many days there are from today to the return date (let’s say there are 20 days);
  • divide the number of pages by the number of days, so 300 divided by 20 gives you 15 pages per day that you need to read;
  • keep a tabulation of the dates and the page numbers, so that you will easily see where you should be on any particular day:
Title of Book, Author
Day # Date Pages Pages actually read
1 04/29 1-15 1-17
2 04/30 16-30 17-28
3 05/01 31-45 28-44
4 05/02 46-60 44-61
5 05/03 61-75 61-72
6 05/04 76-90 72-88
7 05/05 91-105 88-104
8 05/06 106-120 104-121
9 05/07 121-135 121-134
10 05/08 136-150 134-151
11 05/09 151-165 151-160
12 05/10 166-180 161-178
13 05/11 181-195 178-193
14 05/12 196-210 193-210
15 05/13 211-225 210-222
16 05/14 226-240 222-241
17 05/15 241-255 241-254
18 05/16 256-270 254-268
19 05/17 271-285 268-284
20 05/18 286-300 284-300

In the third column, you have your daily goal. This is what you should read. In the fourth column, you record your actual performance. As far as possible, you try to meet your goal.

There will be days when you will fall short, but the listing of your goal in the third column will help you to reach the mark that you have set to complete the book by the date it has to be returned.

If, for some reason, you are unable to make use of library facilities, you will find that used books can be purchased quite cheaply from Amazon.com. If you can afford it, Amazon’s Kindle is a portable e-book reader that you might prefer to use. Of course, you should still set daily goals and a deadline for completion if you elect to read books using this device.

Step 2: Listen to English

If you want to write well, it is not enough to read English. You need to hear it being spoken by people who are required to use it correctly.

We have an advantage today in being able to listen to radio on the Internet.

Here are some links:

Mostly British English:

Mostly American English:

Audio books

If you go to Amazon.com and search for audio books, or books on cassette, or books on CD or MP3 CD, you will find a large selection of works for your listening. Of course, an MP3 CD will be easier to load than a CD to your iPod.

The best way to benefit from audio books is to have a printed edition of the particular book on hand to follow the text while it is being read.

If it is a work that has been translated into English, such as Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, you must be sure that you have the same printed edition as the one used for the audio book. This could be difficult to establish, so I would advise you to avoid translated works for this purpose, but do read them without listening to them.

Audio books can be expensive, so this might not be feasible for everyone.

In Part Two, we’ll look at the next two steps that are needed if you are to improve your writing skills.


Reading English and listening to it being spoken are basic steps to follow if you wish to improve your English writing skills. Are there other points about these two steps that should have been mentioned here? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2011 by English Essay Writing Tips www.englishessaywritingtips.com


Skip to comment form

    • Hassan Masid on February 8, 2013 at 01:14

    Dear Sir/Madam
    First of all let me say thank you for your kind co-operation. In fact, the guidance you have given, is very helpful in understanding the preposition.
    Unfortunately, I am having a problem while speak English, that is why, I want to practice it with the native speaker of English in order to become fluent in English. Will you kindly help me in this regard. I’ve the facility of internet and I can use skype.

    1. Hassan Masid: I am pleased that I have been able to help you with your understanding of prepositions.

      At the following link, there is an article that will help you to practice speaking English:


      You will find a link, among others there, to the Skype Community, but I’ll give it to you here, anyway:


      I am sure you will find someone who will be glad to help you.

      I wish you good success as you strive to become fluent in English.

    • somayeh on December 28, 2011 at 01:35


    1. You’re welcome, Somayeh.

    • fares on October 10, 2011 at 00:57


    1. You’re welcome.

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