IV. Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, and Daily Practice
by Owen Fourie
Steps 7 – 11
In Part Three, Steps 5 and 6 dealt with speaking and writing English.
Step 7: Improve your spelling
As you do your daily writing, you will become more and more aware of the need to spell correctly.
The spelling check in your word processor will alert you if you have misspelled a word, but you cannot be entirely dependent on it. It will not warn you when you have used there for their, or loose for lose, or weight for wait, or allowed for aloud because all those words are correctly spelled but they might not be the correct words to use. Ultimately, you have to know the correct spelling of the right word to use.
If you are writing your journal by hand, you do need to make a point of spelling correctly.
To become a person who is accurate in spelling, you need to do the work. Whenever you are aware of an error in your spelling, do the following:
- Write the correct word in your vocabulary list.
- Include the meaning of the word.
- Write a sentence bringing out its meaning.
- Use scratch paper to write each word out ten times as you spell it aloud to yourself. In this way, as you see it, hear it, and write it, you are establishing the correct spelling in your memory. Don’t associate this practice with any disciplinary action in a classroom for elementary students. It is an activity that works to improve your spelling.
Step 8: Improve your grammar and your punctuation
As you adopt the preceding steps in your quest to improve your English writing skills, you will know that you must do all that you can to improve your grammar. It is in your writing that your progress in grammar will be noted.
Correct punctuation is essential in your writing, and it is an important aspect of your focus on grammar.
As far as possible, you should arrange to receive formal grammar instruction because it is necessary to know the rules of a language to use it properly.
Apart from such instruction, there is a way to help yourself to learn correct usage and that is by reading a lot of good English literature. In Step 1, we covered this point. Read that step again, and see what should be done.
As you read short stories and novels, you will sometimes come to parts where the grammar is not necessarily correct. This is because the author is using the dialect and the colloquial expressions of some of his characters to bring out the local color. Despite this, the rest of the author’s writing will help you with your grammar.
Constant reading of this sort will get you into the flow of English expression, into its grammar, its punctuation, and its spelling too. It is the basic activity that will improve your speaking and your writing.
Step 9: Follow a daily routine
Step 6 made this quite clear. If you are to improve your English writing skills, it is necessary to follow a daily routine.
The best accomplishments are not necessarily those that have come as a result of a great burst of energy for a short time today and then perhaps again in a month or two from now.
Lasting achievements are born of the daily grind. Doing a little each day at the same convenient and dedicated time will build something that will endure for a lifetime, perhaps an eternity.
This seems to fly in the face of today’s quick-fix, instant-solution lifestyle. We have to understand, though, that there are certain things, such as the mastery of an art and the proper use of a language, that require a lot of patience, diligence, practice, and correction over a long time. Athletes, musicians, and artists know this.
Be clear about your goal, the steps to accomplish it, and the daily requirement to follow those steps.
Do you wish to improve your English writing skills? Choose your special place which will be respected by you and others as the place where you will not be disturbed. Choose the most convenient time of the day for you.
Each day, in that place and at that time, devote yourself to these steps: read, listen, develop your vocabulary, use your dictionary, speak, write, and improve your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Look closely at this. There are really only four major steps: read, listen, speak, and write. Practice these things daily, and you will help yourself to improve your writing skills.
Step 10: Seek grammar & writing help
There is a lot of help for you in my blog. At the top of this web page, click on the tabs for the contents pages—Essay Writing, Grammar, Words. These pages list all the items that I have posted so far. This is a valuable resource for you. You will find articles that can help you with grammar and writing.
Clicking on the links in those contents pages will take you to the items that can help you.
Study these articles carefully and thoroughly. Read them and refer to them repeatedly, and put the information into practice.
You can ask questions in the comments area on any of the articles there.
On my You Tube Channel, you will find practical instruction in English grammar, writing, and speaking.
Step 11: Find an English writing tutor
Professional writers will tell you
- that the writing task is never complete;
- that you should respect your reader by writing correctly;
- that your most outstanding effort will need improvement;
- that you should let a wordsmith guide you in your writing.
In four articles, eleven basic steps have been set before you to follow if you wish to improve your English writing skills. Are there other points about these steps that should have been mentioned? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.
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