How Writing Can Make You a Better ESL Speaker

Updated: Dec 1, 2021



Building speaking confidence is the most important thing for most of my clients. I understand completely. In my experience, learning to speak comfortably in a foreign language can be one of the most rewarding experiences there is.

Now, I've heard many clients and students say that the way Americans speak is different than what is taught in a textbook. I agree and disagree at the same time. There is definitely a lot of slang and idiomatic language in English, but if you know basic grammar rules and have a moderate vocabulary, you can get the same message across.

It might surprise you, but one way to improve your speaking is by writing. Studies in the field of ESL have shown that not only does writing practice help improve writing, but it can also help learners improve grammar and vocabulary for use in speaking.¹ Writing can reveal to you the vocabulary you are missing to explain your point. It can also show you the grammar rules that cause you to hesitate. The sentences you form in writing can most certainly be used in speaking too, especially if you write about common topics that you might discuss with a friend or acquaintance.


Writing Prompts


Here are some writing prompts to consider. Feel free to write your response, revise it if needed, and then share it with me for feedback.

  1. In your opinion, what makes a successful person?

  2. What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? Be specific when you explain why this is your favorite activity.

  3. Describe your best friend. What makes this person your best friend?

  4. What is something that really annoys you. Be specific.

  5. What is one goal that you have for yourself? Why is this goal important to you?

  6. What do you think the role of a boss should be?

  7. What is your favorite season and why?

  8. What types of tasks do you do on your cell phone?

  9. Do you have pets? Why or why not?

  10. What is your "dream job" and why?


Reflection


Notice how easy or hard it was to write your response. What caused you to slow down when you were writing? Was it the grammar, spelling, or something else? Sometimes, simply thinking of your answer is the hardest part! That's true in speaking, too! Now, once you have corrected any mistakes in your writing, practice reading your answers aloud.


 

1. Namaziandost, Ehsan et al. “The Effect of Writing Practice on Improving Speaking Skill among Pre-intermediate EFL Learners.” Theory and Practice in Language Studies (2018).

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