Five Simple Steps To Overcome The Challenges Of Blogging In English As A Second Language

As a blog reader you might not realize this, but there are some blog owners out there who are posting regularly on their blogs in the English speaking world, writing in a language that they might not quite dominate, yet.  That’s right, if you are blogging in English as a second language, then this post is for you.

Interestingly, some of the people who are sending me emails saying that they cannot write in English very well, don’t know that English is not my native language either.  Have you made up your mind that because English is not your native language you won’t be able to write great blog posts?

As a matter of fact, I wanted to write this blog post to show you five simple steps that would help you to dramatically improve your written English, and express yourself as well as a native speaker.

1-   Think in English

When I started learning the English language back in the early 1990s I didn’t know any English whatsoever, except for few basic words.  The first rule of thumb that I learned with the course that I was taking was to refrain from thinking in my own language, while trying to think in English.  Of course, I have to admit that it’s easier said than done, but like anything else, it comes with practice and the motivation to learn. And I know that you are motivated, aren’t you?

This rule is applicable for people who are blogging in English as a second language.  Make sure you are thinking about what you want to write in English, not in your language. If you are thinking about a blog post idea in your own language and then try to write it in English, it’s not going to work.

When I write an email to my brother in French, I can’t think of what I am going to say in English.  When I write a blog post in English, I can’t think about what I am going to talk about in French.  So, if you have the habit of thinking mainly in your own tongue, you need to exercise your mind into thinking more in English.  In order to do this you can do the following:

  • Watch TV only in English
  • Read only in English
  • Listen to English songs
  • Try to communicate with English speaking people as much as you can
  • Use your own language as little as you possibly can for a while

Don’t worry; you will never forget your mother tongue.  On the other hand, you will fill your mind with English until you can think and dream in that language.  This will improve your ability to write in English tremendously.

2-   Study other Blog Posts and Articles

The best medicine to learn how to write is to read a lot, and that goes for your own language as well.  They are plenty of people who can’t write in their own language because they never opened a book in their life.  Yes, that’s right, and I am also talking about people having been to High School and College.

Well, if you want to improve your written English, I suggest that you read a lot of books, blog posts, articles, comments on forums, and anything you can put your hands on in the English language.

As you read, don’t just read passively, but notice how people express themselves.  Pick a sentence and compare it with what you might have written if you had written it yourself. Where might have you made a mistake?  Where might have you been correct?  This will help you to spot your error pattern.  We all have some.  In order to do this exercise, however, make sure that you pick well written English materials. There is a lot to be desired in the online written world.  Just pick reputable blogs and you should be fine.

3-   Ask Someone to Review your Blog posts and Take Note of your Errors

Another way to learn from your errors and improve your writing as a whole is to have someone who masters the English language well to review your posts.  Now, don’t assume that any native English speaker will be good at doing this.  I know some native English speakers who make very lousy editors.  Use your own good judgment in choosing the person you are asking help from.

Sometimes, small error patterns tend to stick around longer than bigger ones if you don’t pay close attention to them.  What I call error pattern is typical for someone whose native language is not English.  I am talking about errors such as jumping out (a cliff) instead of jumping off, in purpose instead of on purpose, everybody instead of every one, etc.

4-    Learn Basic English Grammar

If you lack a decent knowledge of the English grammar, then you need to get yourself a good and easy to understand English grammar book.  You can find good English grammar books on places like Amazon for just a few bucks.  Luckily for you, English grammar is pretty simple in comparison to many other languages out there.  This is to our advantage, isn’t it?

5-   Use a Word Type Format

You should ALWAYS use a word type format document, because it will let you know about most of your errors and misspellings. However, it won’t show you all of them.  At times, some slick little typos might be left out.  In the end, the human eye is the best error checker, but really, a computer word type format will help you a great deal.

By following these five simple steps and putting the necessary efforts into it, your English is bound to improve.  Before you know it, you will be able to write good blog posts without too much trouble at all. Darn, it could even turn out to be great!

So, what do you think? Is English your second language? If English is your native language, what advice do you have for people who blog in English as a second language?

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18 Comments

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    What an interesting post Sylviane.

    From time to time I would run across a post and think to myself my goodness their grammar is horrible. But then I would learn that English isn’t their first language so looking back I have to admit that they actually did a great job. I would have no idea how difficult it would be to write in a different language since you know I’m spoiled having grown up here in the US and of course, visiting blogs mainly from this country.

    Thanks for sharing this with us though. You’ve given some great tips and you my friend would definitely know. You are always so helpful.

    Have a great week Sylviane.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne invites you to read..2012 Is The Year Of No ExcusesMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Thank you Adrienne,

      You are always making sure you leave a comment to my post. Adrienne, and I really appreciate that.

      Yes, I had to learn English as a second language, but I will always cherish the fact that I can also read and write French and Spanish.

      To me languages are magical, because they are not only different words to express oneself, but there are a whole culture. As a matter of fact, when you speak more than one language you can see that. The culture is in the language as well. I also studied Korean for two years, and had even more proof of that.

      Have a great day, Adrienne 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    great post, it is very interesting and i really enjoyed reading it, thank you for sharing and i will be sure to return to read more interesting posts of yours.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Andrew and nice meeting your here.

      Thanks for your compliment and I’m glad you liked my post. Yes, please, come back. I’d love that 🙂

      Have a fantastic day!

  • Labman says:

    Looks to me like you have this thing down. I know I could never Blog in French, but as a native English speaker and a fairly good editor, I know how difficult it can be. Let me know if you would like me to check any of your copy. I’m always willing to help.

  • Sylviane Nuccio says:

    Hi Labman,

    Thanks for coming by. I appreciate your invitation. I know that you are always willing to help.

    Have a great day!

  • Hajra says:

    Hey Sylviane!

    Sorry for missing lately…just have been very busy!

    English is my second language too and I know how much trouble it can be sometimes. I find myself at loss for words quite a number of times; also what I am worried about is that I may be thinking something and writing something totally different. I do try my best. Also given the English medium of education I have had all along works to my advantage.

    But yes, despite all that I sometimes am at loss for words… technically!

    This is very helpful indeed!

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Hajra,

      You are doing very well with your English. Of course, I am sure you have your moments of doubts, gosh we all have them 🙂 and so do English native speakers! So don’t worry too much. Like I said your English is quite good, and keep the good work 🙂

      Thanks for coming by 🙂

  • Barry Wells says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    I knew that English was a second language for you and have always thought that you wrote and spoke it very well.

    I also come across blogs where the blogger is using English as a 2nd language and sometimes have to sit and think about their true meaning. I always get it in the end but it must be very difficult for them (you).

    You’ve covered some great tips here that even some English speakers should take on board.

    As you know my back ground is on a building site and I’m not a natural writer so i use word to write all of my content as it checks spelling and grammar for me. I also have my wife read my posts before I publish them.

    Comments are another thing though 😆

    Thanks Sylviane, Happy Easter 🙂

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Barry,

      I know I’m not “perfect” yet 🙂 But English as become second nature to me. I really think in English all day long, but I can switch to French and Spanish instantly on command. I think that I am very blessed for that. But what it is, it’s years of practice, and I’m starting to accumulate a lot of years now 😉

      I do know that not very English speaker do write well, though, and that is true for EVERY languages. I think that you are writing very well, though, and also you’re from the UK, so you shouldn’t have any excuses 🙂 That’s where the language was born!

      Jokes, aside, I know what you mean. Languages are tough, you know, for anyone! When someone points out my mistakes I hit my head against the wall 🙂

      Thanks for coming by Barry. Come back soon and check my new upcoming opt-in form. Very excited!

      Have a great Easter Sunday!!

  • Anish says:

    These are basic, but certainly effective tips! My native language is not English but I’ve always loved it right from my childhood.

    How we learn our mother tongue when we’re babies is through IMMERSION. Getting fluent in any language at an adult stage in life requires the same kind of process – which is why, as you stated, thinking in English, studying other blogs, surrounding yourself by English content very regularly, etc. is probably the single most effective way to learn to speak English like a native English.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Anish,

      Welcome here. You are so right, the best way to learn a foreign language is total immersion. That’s how I’ve learned English and Spanish.

      Thanks for coming by and giving your insights.

  • Ade says:

    You write very well, I certainly wouldn’t have thought English was your second language just from reading this blog (apart from your name maybe). I’ve learned French and Spanish in the past (with varying degrees of success) and the most frustrating thing is that it takes you so much longer to think, write or say something than in your native tongue. I guess you just have to practice more and more until it becomes second nature.

    I know what you mean about have dreams in a foreign language…when you wake up the next morning you think..gee, I had a French dream. When you get to that stage, you are really making progress.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Ade,

      Thanks for coming by and thank you for saying that you wouldn’t have thought that English was my second language. I’ve worked real hard for that to be the case.

      Thanks you for your insight and comment which add to the value of this post and the blog as whole. Your contribution is much appreciated.

      Take care and hop to see you again soon 🙂

  • Oliver Tausend says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    although your first name sounds French and your last name Italian, I wouldn’t have thought that your native English isn’t English. Well, you may have noticed that my native language is German (born and raised in Germany, still living there). I started learning English at the age of ten. Sometimes, it comes easier to me to express myself in English than in German because I feel less inhibitions from past programming. I agree with you that thinking in the foreign language is highly important and yes, it comes with practise for sure.

    There’s a little proofreader plugin for WordPress by the way, it’s called “After the deadline.”

    Thanks for sharing this, hope many people get to read to do something about their fears of not being good enough.

    Cheers

    Oliver

    P.S.: D’où en France es-tu ?

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Oliver,

      I have seen you around and have been to your blog, but I didn’t know you were German. Very interesting. We’re neighbors aren’t we? The few Germans that I have ever met spoke English pretty well. I do not speak German, only can say a couple of words here and there but can’t write them at all.

      There is a very popular singer in France who wrote and sang a song years ago with a single German phrase that said “Varum mein vater” (this I can write :)). It was an autobiography song because he was born in 1945 from an unknown German solder and a French mother. He name is Gerard Lenorman.

      Well, thank you for not having guessed that English is not my mother tongue. I am from Lyon.

      Thanks for coming, Oliver and leaving your feedbacks.

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