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  • Hello.

  • I'm Oli.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn about how to improve your English writing.

  • Learning to write well is often the most difficult skill for English learners.

  • Writing well requires great control of language and extreme attention to detail.

  • Even then, it's not easy, even for native speakers.

  • In this video, you can see some advice that will help you to improve your English writing,

  • whatever level your English is now.

  • First, understand your audience.

  • Before you start writing, you need to answer two questions.

  • Question one: who are you writing for?

  • Are you writing for your friend, your colleague, your teacher, your manager, an examiner, who?

  • Secondly, what are you trying to achieve?

  • Are you trying to give someone information?

  • Are you trying to convince somebody of your point of view?

  • Are you trying to entertain somebody and make them laugh?

  • Are you just trying to pass an exam, or are you trying to achieve several different things?

  • Thinking about your purpose in writing can really help you to organize your ideas.

  • Now these questions: who are you writing for, and what do you want to achieve, they are

  • important.

  • But there's an even more important question: what does your reader want?

  • Remember, when you write, you're normally writing for someone else, unless you're writing

  • a diary or a journal for yourself, in which case you can write however you want.

  • Normally, however, you're writing for another person.

  • Whoever reads your writing will give their time and their attention to read what you've

  • written.

  • Why?

  • Why will someone give their time to read what you've written?

  • Okay, so for example, if you're writing an essay at school or at university for your

  • teacher, your teacher will spend time reading your essay to see if you've understood the

  • topic or not.

  • If you're writing an email or a letter to a friend, your friend will probably want to

  • hear some news about your life and maybe hear some funny stories.

  • If you're writing in an exam, the examiner will be looking for some specific things which

  • you do or don't do in your writing in order to decide your score.

  • Understanding your reader, or your readers, and understanding what they want from your

  • writing is essential.

  • You need to think about this from the beginning to the end of the writing process.

  • So are you ready to start writing yet?

  • Not quite.

  • Next, you need to plan your writing.

  • If you don't plan your writing, there's a good chance you will miss out some important

  • ideas, you won't include them in your writing, or you might include some unnecessary ideas

  • that will confuse your reader and make your purpose unclear.

  • Have you ever written something and got stuck in the middle?

  • You start a paragraph, or you start a sentence, and in the middle you stop and you think,

  • "What am I doing?

  • Where am I going?

  • What do I say next?

  • Uh, help!"

  • Why does this happen?

  • Often it happens because you haven't planned enough.

  • Imagine that you're in a new city and you're trying to find your way somewhere.

  • You don't have a map, you don't have a smartphone, there's nobody you can ask.

  • Of course, you'll get lost.

  • You'll go down streets without knowing where they go.

  • You'll go around in circles.

  • If you do find the place you were looking for, it will just be because you were lucky.

  • Writing without planning is very similar.

  • You'll start sentences or paragraphs without knowing where they're going.

  • You'll waste lots of time writing things, deleting them, rewriting them, deleting them,

  • writing them again.

  • If you do achieve your goal, it will only be because you were lucky.

  • Remember, you're writing for someone else, and you're writing for a reason.

  • That means you have a goal, even if it's a simple goal.

  • You need to have a plan of how you're going to reach that goal.

  • That means you need to think about these questions: what are you going to include?

  • What are you going to leave out?

  • And, how are you going to organize your ideas?

  • If you're writing something simple, you might just think for a minute or two about what

  • to say.

  • If you're writing something longer and more complex like a long essay, you might need

  • to make a written plan.

  • So what points should you include and what points should you leave out?

  • Well, that's a general question.

  • If you're not sure, think about your goal and your reader's needs.

  • Ask yourself, "Does my reader need to know this?

  • Will my reader want to know this?

  • Does including this point, or including this idea, help me to reach my goal?"

  • Thinking about these questions will help you to decide what to include in your writing

  • and what to leave out.

  • What about the third question: how are you going to organize your ideas?

  • Let's look.

  • You need to organize your ideas into clear paragraphs.

  • Organizing your ideas into paragraphs is important for many reasons.

  • It helps your reader understand what your main points are.

  • It helps your reader see where you're going and why, and it helps you to stay focused

  • on your plan and reaching your goal.

  • So what does it mean in practice to organize your ideas into clear paragraphs?

  • Firstly, each paragraph should have one main idea.

  • If you're writing an essay and you have a list of points to include, put one point in

  • each paragraph.

  • Even if you're writing something shorter or simpler, you still need to organize your ideas

  • into paragraphs.

  • Don't try to do too much.

  • Your writing will be much clearer and much easier to read if each paragraph is only trying

  • to do one thing.

  • An extra point: there's no minimum or maximum length for a paragraph.

  • Sometimes when I teach students writing, they try to make paragraphs longer because they

  • say, "Oh, this paragraph is too short.

  • It needs more words, it needs more sentences."

  • No, a paragraph should be as long as it needs to be to make your point.

  • There's no minimum length.

  • Next, you need to decide how many paragraphs you're going to have and what you're going

  • to put in each one.

  • Remember, this is still part of planning.

  • We haven't even written a single word yet.

  • Again, you could do this planning in your head, or you could make some short notes,

  • or you could make a more detailed written plan.

  • It depends how much time you have, what you're trying to write, and how important it is.

  • But the important point is when you start writing, you won't have to think about questions

  • like, "What do I put in this paragraph?

  • How many more paragraphs do I need?

  • How am I going to finish this sentence?

  • You will have thought about all of these things already.

  • This will make it much easier to write whatever you're trying to write.

  • Okay, so now you're ready to start writing.

  • What next?

  • Part four: cut empty words and sentences.

  • There's a simple rule you can use to make your English writing better and clearer: write

  • as little as possible.

  • Let's look at some examples.

  • First, don't use two words if you can use one word.

  • Don't use three words if you can use two words.

  • For example, don't say "very tired," say, "exhausted."

  • "Very" is generally a weak word, and it should be avoided.

  • It doesn't add much to your meaning.

  • The same is true for words like "really" or "absolutely."

  • Use these words as little as possible.

  • They're very rarely necessary.

  • Don't say "as a result" if you can say "consequently."

  • Don't say "on the other hand" if you can say "nevertheless."

  • Use fewer words.

  • Don't say, "This will get better in the future," say, "This will improve in the future."

  • Don't say, "She gave me a lot of help," say, "She helped me a lot," or even, "She helped

  • me greatly," or just cut "greatly" and say, "She helped me," if you can.

  • Use fewer words.

  • Don't say, "Maybe this will solve the problem," say, "This will solve the problem."

  • Words like "maybe" or "perhaps" are generally not necessary.

  • If you're not sure about something, do you really need to include it?

  • If you do want to include something that you're not sure about, use verbs like "might" or

  • "could."

  • Say, "This might solve the problem."

  • Don't say, "We need to find someone who can teach our son," say, "We need to find a teacher

  • for our son."

  • Cut unnecessary words and use as few words as possible.

  • You can also look at sentences.

  • In essays, many people tend to include sentences like, "There are many advantages and disadvantages

  • to this.

  • Of course, there are two sides to this issue.

  • In this essay, I will discuss all the ideas relevant to this point."

  • What do these sentences tell you?

  • Do they give you any useful or relevant information?

  • No, and so they should be cut.

  • Why is this important?

  • Well, using fewer words and fewer sentences will make your writing clearer and easier

  • to read.

  • It will also help you to focus on what you want to say.

  • Try to look at each sentence you write and think, "What does this add to my ideas?

  • What does this give my reader?

  • How does this help me reach my goal in writing this?"

  • If you can't answer these questions, consider cutting it, or try to make it shorter.

  • It's not easy to write in this way.

  • You won't be able to watch this video and go away and write like this.

  • Even in this script, there are probably several places where I could use my own advice!

  • However, you can try thinking about it the next time you write something in English.

  • Over time you can learn the habit of cutting empty words and sentences from your writing.

  • Your writing will be much better and much clearer if you can learn to do this.

  • Next, let's look at some more advice to make your writing clearer and easier to read.

  • Use short simple sentences where possible.

  • Shorter sentences are easier to read and understand.

  • That's not my opinion, that's a fact.

  • There's a lot of research behind it.

  • Longer sentences are harder to read and harder to understand, generally.

  • If you're a non-native speaker of English, writing longer sentences is especially dangerous.

  • There's a higher chance you'll make some grammatical or language errors which will make your sentence

  • difficult to read, or even worse, hard to understand.

  • How long is too long?

  • Well, 10 words is a good target length, 10 to 20 words is okay.

  • Longer than 20 words--this is dangerous.

  • There's a high chance your sentence will become unclear and difficult to read.

  • So how can you do this?

  • Well first, remember what we talked about before.

  • Using fewer words will make your sentences shorter and tighter.

  • Here are some other rules you can use to keep your sentences shorter and clearer.

  • First, don't use the passive voice unless you have a good reason.

  • Using the passive always makes a sentence longer and more complex.

  • Now, sometimes it's fine to use the passive, but not if you don't have a good reason.

  • If you want to use the passive, make sure you know why you're using it, and make sure

  • it's really necessary.

  • Secondly, start your sentence with the subject whenever possible.

  • Thirdly, don't use relative clauses, with who, which, that, where, etc., unless it's

  • really necessary.

  • When you use a conjunction, like "and" or "but," or "or," and so on, think, "Do these

  • two ideas really need to go together?"

  • If they don't, consider breaking your sentence into two shorter pieces.

  • To be clear, long sentences are not automatically bad.

  • Good writers can produce long sentences which are clear, and focused, and elegant.

  • If you're writing about a particularly complex topic, you might need to use longer, more

  • complex sentences to express more complex ideas.

  • The point is you should only use a longer, more complex sentence if it's really necessary.

  • If you can express the same point in a shorter, simpler sentence, you should.

  • Let's review what we've talked about today.

  • First, you need to understand who you're writing for and what they want from your writing.

  • Secondly, before you start writing, you need to have a plan.

  • You need to know what you're going to include, what you're going to leave out, and how you're

  • going to organize your ideas.

  • Thirdly, your ideas should always be organized into clear paragraphs with one main idea per

  • paragraph.

  • Fourth, cut unnecessary words and sentences.

  • And fifth, use shorter, simpler sentences where you can.

  • Follow these points, and I guarantee your writing will get better.

  • I'm not just saying that.

  • I use these points when I write something or edit something, and I see the difference.

  • Even now, I'm still learning this.

  • You're never finished.

  • Follow these points, and you will see a difference.

  • Okay.

  • That's the end of the lesson.

  • Thank you very much for watching.

  • If you want to see more of our free lessons, check out our website, oxfordonlineenglish.com.

  • That's all.

  • Thanks again!

  • I'll see you next time.

  • Bye-bye!

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How to Improve Your English Writing - English Writing Lesson

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    林安安 に公開 2021 年 06 月 11 日
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