5 Ways to Improve Your English Writing (ESL)

esl-writingDo you find writing in English difficult?

Maybe you aren’t used to the Latin alphabet, or maybe you just have trouble expressing yourself in written English.

Don’t worry. Even native speakers sometimes find writing difficult.

In this article, I’m going to help you improve your writing a lot. These suggestions will help you not only improve the preciseness of your writing, but also your style and flow.

So, no matter what you want to use your writing for, keep reading, you’re in the right place!

We’ve recently written articles on the other main areas of English, too. It’s important to master all of these in order to be an exceptional English learner. Check those out here:

This article will talk about the following methods to improve your English writing:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Keeping a journal
  4. Online
  5. With a pen pal

Ready to improve your writing? Then let’s go!


I know the first two points seem obvious, but some people don’t realize how important reading is for good writing.

Think of how a child learns his first language. He listens to his parents talking all the time for many months before he even opens his mouth. Just like listening is important to become better at speaking, reading is vital to become better at writing.

When learning a new language you must OBSERVE and REPEAT. Observe and repeat. Observe and repeat. Again and again. This is at the heart of learning any language. So, master this – get really, really good at it and you will be an amazing language learner.

When you read you observe someone else’s successful style—how their language flows from sentence to sentence, how they articulate their thoughts with different vocabulary, how they can paint a picture with their words. The more you read, the better you’ll be able to emulate this. Any great writer has a huge collection of books for exactly this reason.

George R.R. Martin (author of Game of Thrones) has a quote that I love about this:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

You need to collect books. Find styles that you like. And then mold your own style from these. You’ll be impressed by how much your writing improves by reading more, and it almost happens subconsciously!

If you love books, you should join Goodreads. There you can make a list of books you’re reading, you’ve read, and that you want to read and get recommendations for other books you’ll like. In addition to this, you can have discussions about books and even join book clubs. So you can read with a group and experience the book with them while practicing your English. You could even get on Skype with some like-minded people and practice your speaking!

Not sure how to start reading more in English? Check out this article. You’re already doing a great job by reading this blog.


Well obviously, right?

Yes, if you want to become a better writer you should probably write. A good first step is reading, but if you just read, your writing obviously won’t improve by itself.

But what should you write?

Well, take a moment and reflect. What do you like to read?

If you enjoy blogs like this, then start your own. There are dozens of websites that let you start a free blog. And you can write about ANYTHING. People will find it and start reading it, and some will surely find what you’re writing interesting.

If you enjoy fiction and novels, then write a story. Again, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. The important thing is that you’re practicing, and you’re building your confidence.

If you enjoy prose and nonfiction, then why not research something in English and write about it? If you still go to school, you could do this for an assignment and then translate it to your native language before giving it to your teacher. Or you could share it on your blog.

A lot of people have the idea that they HAVE to speak and write perfectly. But native speakers don’t even do this. It’s only important that you communicate; you express yourself. As long as you’re doing this, make as many mistakes as necessary, and don’t feel bad about it.

Also, be sure to sign up to Lang-8 and have your writing corrected by native speakers.

Want more ideas about what to write? Comment down below and we’ll give you some advice.

In a moment I’ll show you some ways in which you can share your writing.

Keep a journal

If you don’t feel like sharing your writing with anyone yet, then a journal is a great way to make writing a daily habit.

When I lived in Spain, I knew many Americans that liked to keep a journal in which they wrote about their experiences. This was an opportunity for them to practice writing in Spanish and it’s also something that they’re going to love re-reading later in life.

There is no reason why you can’t do the same.

Grab a notebook and write about whatever you have on your mind (EVERY night before you go to sleep or EVERY morning when you wake up, so it becomes a habit).

You can write about your dreams first thing in the morning. You can write about your goals, or you can write about what you did that day.

It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you’re making a habit of writing every day.

This will probably be hard at first. You might even feel awkward, or not be sure about what to write. This is normal, and it will quickly become easier and easier.

Remember, it’s ok to make mistakes. Some people are scared that if they make errors their English will get worst, but that’s silly. It’s better that you practice and gain fluency than to do nothing and stay at the same level. Challenge yourself. And of course, if you can find someone to help you a bit, then that’s even better!

Improve your English with your favorite TV show


There are millions of places online where you can write. You just need to find the right ones for you. Let me share some of the best online resources with you.


In my article on speaking, I talked about what a great resource italki is for finding people to converse with. But it’s also an awesome website for writing.

First, you can find people to exchange messages or chat with. This is a good way to practice conversational writing. But italki also has great resources if you want to try more formal writing.

You can write a notebook entry. This is a way to practice your writing and get corrections and comments from other users. You can write about pretty much whatever you want. AND you’ll be improving your English with the feedback you get.

You can also ask a question. This is great if you have a certain doubt about grammar (for example, how to use commas in English).

If you have something interesting you want to talk about you can start a discussion (you can also do this on Duolingo). And other people will share their thoughts. This is a good way to develop your ideas about a subject, and then write about it more in a notebook entry, in your blog, or elsewhere.

Online Communities

There are many communities that you can join and share your thoughts with. On the RealLife community a lot of people like to write about an experience or share something that happened to them during the day. Then, other community members respond. It’s a great way to start discussions and to make friends online, with whom you can practice your English more.


If you don’t know, a forum is basically an online discussion board. Like on italki or Duolingo, you can start a discussion and people will respond. Or you can find other interesting, popular discussions and give your opinion.

There are thousands of forums online for every topic. There are several just for English learners. Word Reference has a good one.

But the great thing is that once your English is intermediate or better (it probably is if you’re reading this), you can join a forum about ANYTHING that interests you.

Do you like…

Biking? There’s a forum for that.

Rock climbing? There’s a forum for that.

Video games? There’s a forum for that.

Books? There’s a forum for that.

Just type in X Forum into Google (“X” being whatever you’re interested in).

This is a great way for you to write about things that interest you already, and discuss them with other people. If you’re proactive, you can even make friends with native English speakers who have similar interests as you.

If you want to do some creative writing and share your stories with people, then check out this forum to get feedback.

With forums, the possibilities are endless.

Get a Pen Pal

A pen pal is basically someone with whom you exchange letters. There are several websites to do this online. You can either exchange letters online, or via snail mail (regular postal service; called snail because it’s slow).

Snail mail can be fun because it allows you to hold a letter in your hand. It’s more old-fashioned. And it’s always exciting to get something in the mail from a far away place.

Two good websites for pen pals are PenPal World and InterPals.

And if you want a snail mail pen pal, check out Reddit.

Writing letters is a great way to practice formal writing habits and to make friends from around the world. Try it out!

Take Action!

writing in englishWant to improve your writing? Then START right now.

In the comments below I want you to tell me:

1) Why you want to improve your writing, and

2) How you’re going to start improving your writing today:

Are you going to get a Pen Pal? Join an interesting forum? Become active in an English speaking community? Start writing short stories or in your journal?

Whatever you choose, just write. A lot. In a few weeks you’ll be amazed by how much better your writing flows and your style has improved. By becoming more confident about your writing, you can become more open to feedback, which is going to help you improve your structure and grammar (and this will show when you speak, too.)

But don’t get too hung up about perfect grammar. Make writing a habit first, and then focus on improving your grammar and structure later.

Comment below now!

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  • I’d love to improve my writing because i want to someday can go to some english speakers city, and i don’t want to arrive and i don’ t know anything, so, my method for improving is read a book and talk to native speakers on facebook or skype besides i have a book in English with three Cds with the pronunciation of all book then i think that it will help me a lot and you and your videos and blogs also help me in great way! Thank you so much guys!

    • That’s so great to hear! Good luck, and let us know if we can help you on your way 😀

  • mani negi

    thank you very much……………………

    • You’re very welcome! I hope you can implement some of these tips and improve your English writing 🙂

  • merina

    Hi,ethan. I’ve been reading your articles for so long. They help me a lot improve my English. I love your english tips. Thank you so much for providing us free english articles :*

    • Hey Merina,

      That’s great to hear! It makes me so happy to hear a comments like this :D.

      You should join our community, too (https://www.facebook.com/groups/reallifeenglish/). It’s a great opportunity for you to practice with other people. Hope to see you there!


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  • Lucas

    I really loved your tips. I’ve been practicing listening through podcasts, but I didn’t know how to practise writing. Your tips were totally useful.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed in Lucas! It looks like your writing is pretty good, and I hope it will continue to improve more and more.

  • Daiana

    Hi Ethan,
    your tips are terrific! I want to improve my writing skill for academic purpose, I am going to start a PhD in Archaeobotany at University of Exeter.
    I am practicing writing by writing about radom themes. In fact, it’s not too radom I listed some topics that I am intereted in, so everyday I choose one of them and white about it. Another way I use to practice is by commenting in blogs I visit everyday. I am starting to use Italki, too.

    • Daina, I’m so glad that you found these suggestions helpful. I wish you all the best of luck in your studies! I hope to see you around in the community 😉

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  • Farid

    Hello !!!it’s pleasure to read your article.
    I’d like to improuve my english because i am English student,and i’ll be a teacher next year (if God wanted to).My major aim is to be a fluent speaker and i think fluency is related with writing style!!therfore,i want to improve it.If you are not a fluent speaker than you can’t expresse whatever you want,and this will make controlling the class harder!!

  • Michelle Badua

    What will I say? OMG!!!!
    Thank you so much Sir Ethan for this very useful tips you posted here.I’ve been doing 1,2,3 and 5 even before I read this blog and it really helped me a lot to improve my writing.This is amazing!I am overwhelmed actually.Why?It’s because I realized that I’m really on the right place and I’m taking the right track towards my English Writing and Speaking improvement. I’m new at Real Life English page and I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned in just one day.This page is a God given gift for us English learners to be able to learn English fast and effectively.Thank you so much Sir Ethan and to everyone here at Real Life English.Keep up the great work!:)I wanna give you two thumbs up, but NO! I will raise my two hands instead:)Hurrayyyy!!!:):):)

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  • very nice

  • you’re such an amazing gift Ethan.Really thanks for what you’re doing for us .you always get to the point and provide us with precious , practical and useful tips and great information. it seems as if you worked hard to benefit us . I look forward to reading your blogs . all the best luck

    • Wow Fefi, thanks a ton! That’s so sweet of you to say and it means a lot to me :). I hope it helps you

  • Hello! I’m Alexandra from Colombia. Well, I have been frustrated because of my English level, specially today. I realized that I have a lot of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation to learn because I am studying to be an English teacher and I want to take the TOEFL test. I am living in the United States (Colorado Springs, CO) since the last October, I decided to come here and learn this awesome language but many times I feel I don’t know anything and I need to improve my English as soon as possible. I have been taking some clases but that’s not enough, I was trying to do the practice TOEFL test but when I was in the writing section I just felt stupid, idiot. I stared looking for tips to improve my writing and I found this interesting article. I can say these words up here encourage me to start reading and specially writing! Now I undersatnd that nobody is perfect and we are never late to start learning.
    Pd: i have taken English tests to get into classes and they show that I have adveanced level, but I feel I don’t know anything when I want to speak or write about something

    • I’m so glad it helped give you a boost of confidence, Alexandra! It’s so awesome that you’re in Colorado–that’s where I’m from ;). The best advice I can give you is to really take advantage of living there and use your English at every opportunity! Try journaling in English, writing about a variety of subjects, and even get your friends to help you correct it. And definitely try lang8 (http://lang-8.com/)

  • Ironmau Hernández

    Hello everybody, I will start to write my goals and I will practice my words learned, all about to how can connect the words with that/ said “det” in a morphing form, that’s the most commun word used when everyone spoken. Please Ethan you could make a video about that!

    • Ethan

      Hey Ironmau, that sounds great! What an awesome practice to take up 🙂

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean with the video. Could you extrapolate?

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  • Numan

    I’ve always found English intriguing. I’ve been learning to master every skill that can help me be more confident and competent. I just love English, I love the way it’s spoken and written. It’s just beautiful. I’m willing to do anything it takes to speak, write, understand just as good as any native American does. Your article really gave me a boost. My writing skills are pretty bad when it comes to keeping a journal, but I know I’ll get better at it, eventually.

    • Ethan

      So great to hear, Numan 😀 Thank you!

  • julien

    Thank you ethan .. as i told you i want to improve my writing in order to make better applications to get a job.I already have been begining to work on my writing improving.I try to write a text about what i did during my day,by using the words i learnt.I must do it as a daily habit. I must read more too !!! thank you very much for your help !!!

    • Ethan

      Great effort Julien! Keep up the good work 😀

  • Aymen Fodhil

    Thanks a lot ethan ,your tips are very very helpful. Keep it up

    • Ethan

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Tr?n D??ng

    I want to share all my ideas and values for a lot of people around the world, so I must practice writing evey single day. I will start with one small step that is to write all the lesson and ideas I learned today in my journal. If I have any mistakes, please correct it for me. Thank you in advance.

    • Ethan

      That’s a great idea! Keep up the good work

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