Writing skills in language learning are often overlooked. Many language learners concentrate much more on skills such as speaking or listening. However, not practising and developing your ability to write in your target language is potentially slowing your progress.
Writing seems to be less important as people feel they don’t have to do that much writing in their daily life. And when they do, there are all sorts of spellcheckers and other types of editing software people rely on to produce good writing in any language.
The truth is, writing skills are more important than can seem on the surface, and every language learner needs to develop them. Even if you’re not learning your target language for academic purposes it’s vital that you work on your ability to write. Similarly, if you believe that you won’t do a lot of writing in the future, do not underestimate the benefits of developing and practising your writing skills.
In this article, we take a detailed look at the importance of writing skills in language learning and how you can incorporate writing into your learning to make it more effective.
Why Writing is an Important Skill For Language Learners to Practise
People often think of writing skills in terms of texts they might have to write, for example: ‘I only ever write short emails for work, I don’t need specific writing skills for that’. However, there is much more to writing than that. Incorporating a variety of writing skills in your language learning will boost your progress exponentially.
Let’s take a look at some of the key things that make writing an essential skill for any language learner:
1. It Helps You Store and Organise What You’ve Learned
Writing out new vocabulary, complicated rules, good examples, useful tips, your own ideas, and more helps you store them in one convenient place, whether you write them down in a physical notebook or type up in an electronic one.
It also allows you to organise the learning materials in whatever way you see fit: by date, by topic, by category, and so on.
Writing things down helps you remember them, and organising them in a logical way turns your notebook into a handy reference book for future revisions and practice.
2. Writing Practise Helps Foreign Language Learners Prepare For Speaking
Writing sentences, paragraphs, and full texts allows you to learn to incorporate new grammar and vocabulary into your speech. It is also a great way to accompany other skills: for instance, writing activities can help you check your listening comprehension or analyse reading materials.
Writing also helps you practice using your target language to express your ideas. In this way, it is similar to speaking; they are both productive skills. However, when it comes to writing, there is a key difference. When you write something down, it is usually less spontaneous than speaking and you have more time to prepare.
When you write something, you can think things over, look up words in a dictionary, consult your notebook for ideas, and so on. You can even go back and edit or rewrite portions of your text before somebody reads it.
This allows you to get used to expressing yourself in your target language in a less stressful context compared to speaking. Of course, speaking spontaneously is also an important skill to practise, but it will be much easier to do if you are already used to expressing yourself through writing.
What’s more, writing can be used to support speaking. For instance, writing down key points of an important presentation is often very helpful.
3. It Helps You Track Your Progress
Seeing how far you have come and how much you have achieved over time is usually very motivating.
Checking your progress is easy with written texts as they don’t take a lot of physical or digital space. You can also easily return to what you have written previously and see how much progress you’ve made.
Looking through such texts every now and then will also help you identify your weaknesses and possible gaps in knowledge. Once identified, you can promptly address them.
4. Practising Writing Skills is a Great Way for Language Learners to Get Feedback
Whether you are learning with a teacher or by yourself, it is important to get regular feedback on your language output. Without it, you run the risk of making some mistakes over and over.
Writing is often the easiest and most convenient way to get some feedback, whether it’s from your teacher or a native speaker of your target language.
There are whole services devoted to just that, for example, HiNative, where you can get your writing checked and corrected by a native speaker.
5. You’ll Do More Writing Than You Think
While it is true that nowadays we do much less writing by hand, we do type quite a lot instead: messages, social media posts, emails, reports, reviews, and much more. This is still writing, albeit digital, and requires good writing skills.
How to Introduce Writing into Your Language Learning
Whether it’s done by hand or digitally, introducing writing to your language learning will make it more effective. Here are a few different ways you can do that:
- Write out new vocabulary and grammar – with good sentence examples.
- Come up with your own sentence examples to illustrate grammar and vocabulary use.
- Write out anything interesting – from good examples of language use to useful tips (in your target language, of course).
- Keep a language-learning journal and write daily in your target language. You can keep a classical journal documenting your daily life and thoughts, or use various writing prompts to give you ideas.
- Create a language learning social media account and blog about your progress in your target language.
- Subscribe to people creating content in your target language, comment on their posts, and interact with other users.
- Join a language exchange community and chat with fellow learners and native speakers online.
- Think of the different types of writing you do in your daily life. Can you do it in your target language? Give it a try!
The Importance of Writing in Language Learning Video
Writing is both a useful language learning tool and an essential communication skill. Try not to neglect it, even if something else, like speaking, is your main priority.
Incorporating writing into your language learning is fairly easy – just check out the tips above. It can also be a lot of fun while making for more effective language learning – win-win!
Q Language Centre Hong Kong
Whether you’d like to start learning Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean or English, or are already well on your way to full fluentcy, Q Language Centre offers tailored classes to suit your personal goals in a relaxed learning environment.
Our courses include: intensive boot camps, business and corporate speak-focused classes, small group classes, and one-on-one tutoring. If you’re a university student looking for some extra help, we’ve got you covered.
We also provide school enhancement courses, that cover: exam preparation, debating, presentation skills, and, of course, writing skills.