If you have been learning English and are wondering how to write an essay, you will be pleased to know that there are many helpful techniques available to help you.

As you will know, it takes much practice to learn how to speak, read, and write English properly. And as you advance with your English language skills you will find that even your academic writing will improve.

If you are at university and studying your courses in English, be prepared for the fact that you will eventually need to know how to write an essay in English!

This might seem like a daunting idea but advancing in your English language skills to the point of being able to write a thesis in English is going to open up the world for you in ways you have not imagined!

Remember that English is an international language that has the ability to connect nations from every corner of the globe.

Writing a Dissertation or Thesis

A dissertation or thesis is a long-form essay that most universities and colleges require as a final submission for a student’s course work. It is a vital piece of academic writing and students are even trained on how to write an essay before this critical point in their education.

Writing your final dissertation is a wonderful opportunity for you to debate arguments for a topic, as well as present new ideas.

To produce academic writing of the standard required for a thesis requires advanced, fluent language skills. For students who are not fluent in English, extra language tuition with a private tutor is extremely common and recommended.

How Academic Writing Can Be Challenging

Academic writing for any student in any language can be very challenging but fortunately this, like so many other important skills in life, is one that can be learned!

Let’s look at the two main reasons why effective essay writing can be difficult.

  • The amount of research that is needed to write a dissertation can be onerous.
  • Writing a thesis (or dissertation) in your second language can prove extra challenging, especially when it comes to achieving the tonality that is required for academic writing. Remember you are not writing an informal letter.

Tips for Writing an English Thesis

Once you have mastered the skills required to write a dissertation in English, you will notice a marked increase in your overall confidence in your English communication skills.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you have the tools to knock your academic writing skills right out of the park. Once you have mastered these tools, you will know how to write an essay for the rest of your life!

Acquire the Vocabulary

books stacked on windowsill
Be prepared to do a lot of research in order to write a compelling thesis. | Source: Unsplash

Regardless of how limited or extensive your English vocabulary, when it comes to essay writing, you will be required to acquire additional words and phrases that add depth to your work. This is especially important when it comes to academic writing where you are required to present arguments for new ideas and concepts that might be technical.

The more vocabulary you have at your disposal, the more accurate the expression of these thoughts and ideas will be when it comes to presenting them in your academic writing.

There are many ways to upgrade your English vocabulary, but when it comes to academic writing, your dictionary, or Google Translate, is going to be your ‘best friend’ and most frequently used essay writing tool.

Another tip for your thesis is that as you anticipate how to write an essay in English, make a list of the technical terms you will require upfront for your proposed thesis.

One of the great challenges with the English language is that there are many ways to say things.

For instance, using a word that you would use in an informal letter might be completely inappropriate for a piece of academic writing and for any business communication you may have to prepare in future. So do your research and consider an advanced English language tutor to help you too, if necessary!

If you don’t already have someone to help you with advanced English writing, you could check out Superprof which connects English tutors from all over South Africa (and even the world) with all levels of English students. Sometimes investing in a tutor for times as important as your thesis writing is well worth the effort.

Master Sentence Structure and Formatting

Unfortunately, when it comes to academic writing, especially that of a thesis, there is little room for grammar, spelling, and structural errors.

Most universities and colleges place great emphasis on the final dissertation and usually offer training on how to format your essay writing and prepare for presenting your thesis.

If you are presenting your academic writing in your second language, you should take advantage of this kind of training, as well as find a tutor or English first language buddy to help you through your dissertation writing.

Focus on Your English Spelling

black letters of the alphabet in a bowl
Spelling is extremely important when writing an academic essay. | Source: Unsplash

Poor spelling is one of those dissertation misdemeanours that can totally crush your first impression, which is your most important impression! Spelling mistakes in your academic writing is a little bit like turning up at a job interview in your beachwear – you really want to avoid these at all costs.

Be Clear on Your Required Document Structure

From its introduction to conclusion, and everything else in between, there is most certainly a formula for structuring a final dissertation.

Whether you are writing in your first language or not, absolutely nailing this part of your thesis should be the easy part. Losing marks for incorrect, or poor thesis structure would be unnecessary and a great pity, so make sure you take note of the recommended structure and then stick to it.

Here are a few tips on how to structure and outline your thesis correctly.

  • The Introduction: Lay a clear foundation in your introduction that outlines what your thesis is about. Here, you will outline the subject, context, and offer the reader a definition of your topic. A tip for your introduction could be to add a quote that supports the angle you have taken with your topics. Introductions should get to the point within a few paragraphs.
  • The Body: When it comes to how to write an essay, always remember that the main section, or the body, is where you present your main ideas and arguments. For easier readability, use subheadings.
  • Subheadings: Subheadings provide a useful snapshot of the content for the reader, before they have to delve into the detail. They also help the reader to know where they are, so to speak. The use of subheadings in essay writing is also a helpful way to separate ideas and topics. Keep your reader interested by using captivating headings.
  • Link Paragraphs: As with all essay writing, make sure that each paragraph links to the next one.
  • The Conclusion: The closing paragraphs of any academic writing are especially important. Not only should it succinctly highlight your key points but it should also leave the reader with your clear closing thoughts on the topic.

Thesis Writing: Tips for Students

Once you have your structure and formatting in place and are ready to get into the actual flow of writing, there are several helpful tips for essay writing to note.

Firstly, make sure that you have all your facts and even separate them into sections like introduction, main arguments, and conclusion.

student writing in notebook
Be prepared to write several drafts of your essay, before the final submission. | Source: Unsplash

Secondly, make sure you have enough vocabulary. Make a list of all the technical words you intend to draw from in order to write your thesis.

When it comes to essay writing, this list is not dissimilar to how a painter would use a colour palette to create his masterpiece!

Stay focused on the structure that you have already outlined and this will help you to find and replace your thoughts and words as needed.

Writing fluent English, especially a dissertation, will require that your use of tenses, conjugation, and other grammar rules are flawless. If English is not your first language, this can be challenging, so enlist the help of a language professional if necessary.

Summary: English Thesis Writing Tips

Apart from the obvious point about thoroughly researching your topic and always supporting your points with sound evidence, here is a final list of tips for how to write an essay.

  • Use a dictionary.
  • Develop your structure first.
  • Make sure you format the document as required.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Be consistent in your essay writing style.
  • Edit, edit, edit.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Consider an advanced English tutor to help with grammar and vocabulary.
  • Consider forming a group with fellow students during your thesis time.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread.
  • Consider using an online grammar tool like Grammarly.

Finally, the more preparation time you spend on your dissertation before you even get to the essay writing part, the easier it will be! And the great thing about essay writing is that the more you do, the easier it will become.

So if you have a long academic journey ahead of you, it would be worth investing the time to truly master the art of essay writing!

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.