III. Speaking and Writing
by Owen Fourie
Steps 5 – 6
In Part Two, Steps 3 and 4 dealt with building your English vocabulary and using a dictionary.
Step 5: Practice speaking English
Especially for ESL and EFL students, it is necessary to take every opportunity to practice speaking English.
If you read a lot of English, it will help you to speak it. If you read aloud to yourself, that will also help.
There is help for you on the Internet if you wish to improve your speaking in English. Here are some links:
If you google the following search “find english speaking friends with skype,” it is likely that you will find many free ways of practicing by using Skype.
Step 6: Write daily
This step is the crucial one that will help you to make a giant leap in your progress.
Here, you bring together all the preceding steps—reading, listening, vocabulary building, dictionary skills, and speaking—and you use them to compose paragraphs and short essays on topics that interest you. Comment on news items, on events in your neighborhood, on anything, and on any subject.
What is necessary is that you should write daily for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. You should have a specific routine that allows you to write at a particular time each day in a place that you will always associate with this practice. Keep doing this for twenty-one days, and it will become a good habit that will benefit you for life.
This writing is apart from any school or college assignment. It is your own personal and private writing, although you can share it with others if you wish to do so.
Keep a journal
I have already mentioned composing paragraphs and short essays on topics that interest you. There is another useful exercise that will help your writing. It is to keep a journal.
This is a practice that has been observed by many people through the centuries, and some have become famous. The names of Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf, and Anne Frank spring to mind.
In your journal. You should write down your thoughts and observations about various things that you encounter in your life. This is also a useful tool for overcoming writer’s block—those times when you do not know what you should write.
Let’s say that you are writing paragraphs and short essays about various topics and then you find that you have run out of ideas. The more personal nature of a journal can help to spark new ideas to get you beyond the temporary writer’s block.
Choose your medium
Will you type your journal at your computer, use the latest device in the fast-developing world of technology, or actually handwrite in a paper notebook? There are many benefits if you do actual handwriting in a paper journal.
It becomes even more personal. It is your own handwriting, which should be in the cursive style. At first, for you, it might be slower than typing, but it is more deliberate, and it causes you to think more carefully about what you are expressing.
It is a more effective way to improve your writing, but if it doesn’t appeal to you, typing your journal is fine, and you will benefit. Using electronics really does make it easier to do things.
Remember that you are drawing together your reading, listening, vocabulary building, dictionary skills, and speaking as you engage in the art of writing.
English philosopher, politician, and Lord Chancellor, Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) said, “Reading makes a full man; speaking makes a ready man; writing makes an exact man.”
In Part Four, we’ll look at the last five steps that are needed if you are to improve your writing skills.
Speaking and writing English daily 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.
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