Developing your writing skill in English: The beginning
From Fokus magazine (M) 'Living English with Teech Airil'
by Airil Haimi Adnan @ Teech, May 2008
Bulan lepas ruangan ini membincangkan cara untuk menambah kemahiran membaca anda dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Bulan ini fokus kita adalah kemahiran menulis pula. Memang sukar untuk belajar menulis dalam suatu bahasa baru tetapi anda perlu belajar agar hasil tulisan anda nanti akan dapat difahami oleh orang lain dan juga mempunyai daya tarikan yang boleh membantu anda mendapat markah tinggi di dalam ujian serta peperiksaan…
Whenever I mention writing to my students, they will always moan and groan and pull a long face. Let’s face the fact – writing is not easy and not everyone can become a good writer in the English language.
Is this true? NOT NECESSARILY! Even though not all of us can become excellent writers like William Shakespeare or John Grisham, ALL of us can learn how to write using good grammar and with good creativity.
One of the biggest problem for Malaysian students in terms of writing in English is that they are only good in one area at a time. So for example, your English grammar is okay but your essay lacks imagination and so it fails to get the high grade that you want.
Some students have a bigger problem when they write in English because their grammar is very bad and they do not know what to write whenever they are asked to do so!
Second, when you start writing choose to write using single syllable words that are used to simplify sentences. They are therefore considered easy vocabulary in contrast with multi-syllable words. For example, write ‘We often visit the museum’ as opposed to ‘We often go and visit the museum’.
Third, when you start to become confident you might like to use certain well known phrases in your writing. The best place to start is in your English dictionary BUT do be careful, if you are not sure of the phrase or word, do not use it as you are bound to write something meaningless or even wrong.
I would also like to suggest you to start a Personal Vocabulary Book (PVB) when you start to learn to write in English.
To start one is easy, just get an empty notebook and then set yourself a daily or weekly quota – three new words per day or ten new English words per week, is a good start. What you need to do is to read lots of English stuff and whenever you find a new word you do not understand, jot it down in your PVB.
Next, find the meaning of the word in context (as used in the English material that you were reading), and finally use the new word to make a new sentence based on your own creativitiy.If you feel that you need help, try to approach your English teacher in school or your tuition tutor and ask her or him to check if your new sentences are correctly written.
You will notice that your vocabulary will slowly increase and you are now able to write more creatively than before. In time, your writing skill as a whole will improve as you continue reading new English materials and to develop your personal vocabulary.
The final point I want to share with you this month is the importance of writing in different genres. A genre basically means type of writing, for example short story, poem, magazine article, informal letter and more.
To become a GELL, you must practice writing in different modes and style. For example, you might want to train yourself to write better emails in English. At the same time, may be you want to try to write articles for your school magazine.
In addition, if you like English literature, why not practice writing some short poems that you can easily share with your friends in school or upload them to your personal website for the whole world to read?
Whatever you choose, just remember writing IS NOT boring and difficult. With the proper approach (and lots of practice) it is the best way for you to express yourself in the English language!
This is the original unedited version of the article that appeared in the magazine, please refer to the MAY edition of FOKUS SPM for the updated copy - Teech