How to Practice Your Writing in English (Guest Post)

This week's "How To" post is a special guest post from our friends at Grammarly, written by Kimberly Joki. 

Grammarly improves communication among the world’s more than two billion native and non-native English writers. To learn more, visit Grammarly’s website or connect on Facebook.

Summer reading is one way that teachers encourage students to improve their reading comprehension and vocabulary in the summer.

While summer reading is likely the furthest thing from your mind when you’re hanging out with your friends on the beach or sitting by a campfire, it actually helps to keep you mentally “sharp” during the months when you are not in the classroom. Research has shown that students taking the same standardized test receive better scores before their summer vacation than they do after summer vacation.

At Grammarly, we’ve noticed that most teachers do not assign summer writing. That means that, when they return to school, many students are a bit rusty when it comes to spelling, grammar, and punctuation—especially those that spent the summer texting their friends in tech speak. That’s not “gr8” from a teacher’s perspective.

Here are some summer writing assignments that will help you to stay in the writing “groove” all summer long:

Start a journal. Using a journal to keep track of your summer activities does more than just give you a wonderful record of your vacation time. Journaling will get your brain used to the act of sitting down to write, and it will jump start your thinking.

Whether you decide to write daily or just a few times a week, these online tools will help you pursue journaling or learn more about the habit.

For a guide to handwritten journaling and step-by-step templates based on various topics, try Journal in a Box.

For online journaling, check out Day One, an app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

For inspiration and accountability, visit 1001 Journals, a crowd-sourced journaling project!

Create a blog. If you really want to raise the stakes on your summer writing, start a blog. Blogging, like journaling, can be a fun way to document experiences during your vacation.

It is also public and, as such, will push you to review, revise, and rewrite your work before publishing. Writing for an audience can be fantastic motivation to hone your writing skills.

There are plenty of free platforms to get started with blogging. The top three are Wordpress, Blogger and Tumblr. If you are new to blogging, these platforms will be a wonderful starting point. To build your audience,  let friends and family know that you’ve started blogging. They will offer motivation and encouragement.

Write a letter. Whether you take the time to handwrite a letter or compose an email to an old friend, the experience will help strengthen your writing muscles as well as improve your relationships! (We recommend trying handwriting your letters; there is recent evidence it will keep your brain sharp with age!)

Aside from a pen and paper, you may need a few tips for structuring your letter. Here are some great examples of various letter types as well as a letter generator, if you are new to letter-writing!

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

In 2012, student writers who checked their work with Grammarly made more than four million potential writing mistakes—so if you find a lot of errors in your journal, blog, or letters, know that you are not alone. Take a look at some of the top student writing mistakes, below, and consider which of them apply to you.

1. Spelling mistakes
2. Run-on sentences
3. Sentence fragments
4. Missing a comma after an introductory phrase
5. Wordiness
6. Missing verbs
7. Comma misuse (inside a compound subject)
8. Missing a comma around interrupters
9. Squinting modifier with preposition
10. Subject/verb agreement

To become a better writer you should understand your problem areas, then work to avoid them in the future.

Do you make any of these errors? Are there any others that you often make?

Our guest author, Kimberly Joki, is a language-loving melomaniac bursting with wanderlust and a desire to cook good food for good people. She manages Grammarly’s social media presence from the company’s Kiev, Ukraine office.


accountability - responsibility for something
raise the stakes -  to increase in importance
hone - to make better, refine
melomaniac - someone who is obsessed with music

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