If you are aiming to improve your English writing skills, or if learning English as a second language is one of your goals, you can rest assured that this is something you will never regret.

Being able to communicate effectively in English is a life skill that opens up the world in terms of travel, relationships, and career opportunities.

Regardless of your aim, English language courses for both children and adults are available for any level of ability.

Reasons to Learn English as a Second Language

There are many good reasons for having English as a second language, not least of which is that it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. In fact, the reason that so many people enrol in English language courses is that it is regarded as an international language.

These days, more and more people are opting to study and work in foreign countries which means that not only is English as a second language extremely helpful but improving one’s English writing skills has also become essential. But foreign countries aside, in South Africa there are 11 official languages so for the vast majority of the population, English language courses and courses to improve one’s writing skills in English are very popular, especially with academics whose tertiary education is presented in English.

When it comes to tertiary education, from the moment you apply to the moment you graduate, your writing skills, and particularly your English writing skills could determine the outcome of your academic career.

Imagine studying medicine or engineering or any other degree in English when you are home language is isiXhosa or Afrikaans. At university level, one needs above-average writing skills to be able to complete a degree that will include a thesis that will rely heavily on excellent English writing skills.

Whether you are at school, university, travelling, or working, developing your English writing is a skill that you will never regret investing your time and money.

In fact, your English writing skills could be the catalyst for successfully entering the highly competitive job market. Remember that your first impression is not only your most important but in today’s fast-paced world, sometimes a first impression is the only chance you get! This means that covering letters for job applications need to be of the highest quality – without solid English writing skills, this can simply not be achieved.

Once you have entered the job market, your writing skills are could help you climb the corporate ladder!

In South Africa, you will certainly need English writing skills in the workplace, and if English is not your first language, and you intend to work for an international organisation, or work overseas, English language courses would be an excellent step to help these dreams come true.

pens and notebook
The more you practise writing in English, the more you will improve. | Source: Unsplash

Gaining English as a second language as well as improving your English writing is certainly something that every other first language person should consider.

Finding the Right English Language Courses for You

Whether you are learning English as a second language from scratch, or whether you want to improve your writing skills for academic, travel or business purposes, the right tutor is available for you. When searching for English language courses, make sure that you have a clear idea of your current ability and goals for deciding to learn English.

For instance, struggling with English high school lessons will have different requirements when it comes to English tuition to learning conversational English for travel purposes.

In the same way, if you are struggling with English language courses at university level, you will need a higher level of tuition. Alternatively, perhaps you find yourself in a job that requires outstanding English writing skills. If this is the case, there is certainly specific English writing tuition available that will not only help you to avoid making obvious mistakes but will also help you to communicate in clear, professional, and impressive ways.

English is an extremely broad topic, so finding the right tutor for your needs is key. Using a platform like Superprof, is one of the easiest and effective ways to find a tutor who specialises in English language courses. If you feel that face-to-face tuition is important for you, you could search for a tutor by location – having someone near you is very convenient. Alternatively, if you have an internet connection and webcam, you could find the right tutor for you from several locations in South Africa, or even the world!

One of the other advantages of using a Superprof tutor is that many of them offer their first lesson at no charge. This could be the perfect introduction to discuss needs and challenges around learning English as a second language or to discuss your English writing goals.

English Writing Skills for the Professional Cover Letter

Perhaps you feel like you have a firm grip on English as a second language but simply need a few tips for writing a compelling cover letter for a job application. To make a successful first impression, not only will you need good English writing skills, but you will need to organise your letter in a particular, logical order. Here are four important components to help you structure a cover letter that is easy to read and contains the kind of information that potential employers are on the lookout for.

  1. Maintain a logical order.
  2. Clearly state your experience.
  3. Show why your skills are relevant.
  4. Add your unique selling point.
  5. Emphasise the highlights.
pile of paper in front of man's face
There are important components to writing a compelling cover letter. | Source: Unsplash

Maintain a Logical Order

Your first paragraph is ostensibly your introduction and should include a brief description of both your highest level of education and experience. Next, you should outline why your skill set matches the job application. Finally, your closing paragraph should give a unique reason why you are interested in the job and emphasise your highlights in a succinct way. At the end of your conclusion, thank them for their time in taking to read your application and write your salutation.

Clearly State Your Experience

Firstly, make sure that the different parts of your letter are structured into separate paragraphs. For instance, your introduction, skills, and experience paragraphs will all stand alone. Using this framework, write down everything you can think of. This could be the draft that will make a good start for someone with English writing skills to help you.

Show Why Your Skills Are Relevant

Always remember to take a close look at both the job description and job requirements on the job specification. Where possible, use the same language to demonstrate how your skillset is a match. Take extra care to highlight any industry words. You could even find a tutor with writing skills to help you with your letter and double-check that you have not missed any key jargon that would be helpful to include.

Add Your Unique Selling Point

Remember that your job application will be one of many, but don’t let that put you off.

Think about any of the unique character traits, relevant to the job description, that could help you to stand out. If necessary, simply jot them all down and ask someone with good English writing skills to help you thread the best one into the right place.

Emphasise the Highlights

There will certainly be a highlight in each of your paragraphs, but do note that it is extremely helpful to the reader, especially one that is trying to analyse eligibility for a certain role to have the highlights carefully written in a short precis as a concluding paragraph.

Writing a good precis or summary is one of the most important writing skills you could develop. If you are not confident about your conclusion, make sure that you have someone with great English writing skills read it for you.

Advanced Tips for Improving Your Writing Skills

Whether you are submitting an essay, dissertation, covering letter for a job application, or writing a business email, you want to make sure that it stands out. One of the easiest and quickest ways to ensure this is to make sure that your English writing is absolutely devoid of mistakes and is also well-formatted!

There are several ways to make sure of this, but the most important is to never under-estimate another pair of eyes. This rule applies to everyone because even those who have excellent writing skills make mistakes and typos.

If you are fortunate to be studying English as a second language, ask your teacher to read over anything that has life-changing potential! If you have an English writing tutor, ask for help. As English is such a widely spoken language, there is always someone around with English writing skills who could proofread your text.

English Writing Skills for Dissertations

If you are trying to get through university with English as a second language, while needing English writing skills to complete your dissertation or thesis, you should most definitely consider a tutor to help with your English writing.

student using laptop on a bed
You will need to do a lot of research and planning to write a dissertation in English. | Source: Unsplash

Writing a thesis requires involved organisation, preparation, and revision of ideas to outline your arguments. This is a complex task that requires a high level of writing proficiency. The more you can practise writing shorter essays on your chosen subject matter, the more your writing skills will improve. Not only will you begin to express yourself more eloquently, but you will find that your vocabulary will broaden too.

A further tip to improve your English writing is to research and read as much as you can in English, even if this is not your first language. This will prove invaluable in terms of vocabulary gain and certainly improve your English writing.

Finally, do not discount the lifelong benefits that enrolling in English language courses can do not only in helping you to write your thesis, but also as a skill for your entire professional career.

One of the most important pieces of advice you could receive to help you improve your writing skills is to concentrate on your structure. Always begin with a framework or skeleton for your information. Prepare high-level titles for every section. Not only will this help you to organise your research, but it will also ensure that the information flows well.

Practise English Writing through Letters to a Friend

Most English language courses include a variety of methods to help practically implement writing skills, especially if you are learning English as a second language. One of the more fun ways to do this is to find a language buddy with whom you can exchange letters and practise your English writing skills.

Not only will you get to know your friend better, but having a partner to support your English writing goals will encourage you to stay motivated. There’s no doubt that practising your English writing with a language buddy will improve both your reading and writing skills.

Remember that informal letter writing is very different from academic writing, but you will learn how English is spoken in an everyday context, which is an invaluable tool for life.

new email on computer desktop
Stay motivated by finding an English pen friend or language buddy. | Source: Unsplash

How to Find an English Writing Partner

One of the easiest ways to find a language buddy to help you improve your English writing skills is online. You could try platforms like Facebook and Instagram, both of which suggest friendships based on your shared interests. Alternatively, if you would like to develop more professional English writing skills, find connections on LinkedIn, and make it a habit to read and participate in the discussions in the groups you have joined.

Finally, whether you want to deepen your understanding of the English language for personal, professional, or educational reasons, it is a process that you will never regret! The key is to practise, practise, practise and that is easy when English is spoken in almost every country in the world.

To be able to confidently state that you are equipped with English as a second language is an outstanding skill to add to your CV!

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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.