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Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 00:14

Should I write about something more complex?

People seem to recommend writing regularly instead of writing at length once in a blue moon so I'll just write a paragraph or two three times a week... or at least striive to do so. However, there is a question that I cannot, for the life of me, seem to figure out. I have been reading ILETS sample essays for a few days by searching on Google and thought maybe just writing about what is in my mind is not enough to get me out of this intermediate plateau. So, I took to Google to search for a specific way to improve my writing. The results that I have found can be summarised into two words. Translation and Summarisation. A lot of people seem to suggest translating from one's L1 or the language that they are strong in to L2. I have some doubt in this method as there seems to be a controversy regarding this issue as some people adhere to not translating at all times. Moreover, I mostly consume meaningful media via English so there are not much things for me to translate. I can just try to find a random article on the internet and translate it, though. Summarisation, on the other hand, looks quite useful. I can read an article in English and try to condense it into a paragraph or two by only capturing substance as it is a pretty useful skill to have anyways.

I am trying to buy some language learning method books as I am trying to be better at English and other foreign languages that I am not so capable of. I cannot stop thinking that I will not have been good at English a few years later so I am trying to find ways to reverse it. I initially subscribed to a bunch of language learning podcasts and the first one I found was the one that one of our regulars is a host of, or at least an irregular guest of. The podcast seemed to offer great insight into language learning so I decided to buy the host's language learning book. I know it all boils down to perservering and there is no magic method but I think I should at least grasp at straws.

IELTS writing seems (I know I am overusing this word a lot) to be way harder than I initially thought. There are so many words that I have to incorporate into my vocabulary to score a high band, although I have no problem understanding them. What is worse, the speaking section looks like the worst nightmare for me to take as I am abysmally stuttery. What should I do to overcome these problems to score a high band? I am personally aiming for band 8 or more and I do not think it is impossible for me... eventually.

So, what do you other language learners think? If you have found any unnatural phrases or errors please leave a correction and also your thoughts down below!

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CategoryAdequate to goodGood to ExcellentNeeds work
Grammatical Accuracy

The learners ability to use nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. correctly in sentences, using verb tenses accurately, and having the correct agreement between subjects and predicates. For instance, one would say "they were" instead of "they was."

There are 3-4 grammatical errors
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There are 0-2 grammatical errors
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Punctuation

The learner's ability to use certain marks to clarify meaning of their writing by grouping words grammatically into sentences and clauses and phrases.

There are 3-4 errors in capitalization and punctuation.
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There are 0-2 errors in capitalization and punctuation.
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There are 5 or more errors in capitalization and punctuation.
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Spelling

The learners' ability to form words with the correct letters in the correct order

There are 3-4 spelling errors
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Style

The learner's ability to tailor the written work to fit the specific context, purpose, or audience

Mostly understandable. However, there are a few errors which cause confusion.
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Easy to understand. Writing flows and keeps reader engaged.
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Quite hard to understand.
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edhutchins88's picture
I learn : Chinese (Beginner) French (Beginner) German (Beginner) Portuguese (Beginner) Spanish (Beginner) Arabic (Beginner)
3570

Hi Banap,

I would definitely recommend writing summaries of (complex) books and articles you read. In your case (as you are a very advanced English language learner) I would recommend writing larger, more in depth essays and summaries (that take weeks to complete) instead of simpler, shorter texts (that you can do in an hour or two) . For example, you could provide an in-depth review of a film you've recently watched or a book you've read.

I would also say that a very useful exercise for you to do would be to translate a (short) story or a play from your native language to English. Of course this is a very difficult task as you cannot translate word for word. You have to really think (creatively) about how to maintain the original texts' intent, style, tone and context. What are your thoughts? Perhaps you could have a go at this task and post your work here :-)

What were some of the names of  the language learning podcasts you subscribed to by the way?

With regards to your speaking part of your IELTS exam, it seems like the only solution for someone like you is to spend time immersing yourself in an English-speaking environment. As you have mentioned, you have already put so many hours into consuming media in English and practicing your writing. In my opinion, the reason why you stutter a lot when you speak is because you lack the confidence and practice. (I am in exactly the same situation as you with the languages I learn) My only suggestion would be for you to spend a lengthy period of time in an English speaking country, making sure you are speaking and interacting with people in English from the moment you get up in the morning. Are you planning on doing this?

Here are just a few things I found with regards to your text

1. striive strive: watch you spelling of this word.

2.there seems to be a controversy regarding this issue. there seems to be controversy regarding this issue. (You could also say "a big controversy regarding this issue or heated controversy regarding this issue)

3. so there are not much things for me to translate there are not many things for me to translate (Use much if the noun is non-countable (e.g., water, sand). Use many if the noun is countable (e.g., oranges, children))

4. it is a pretty useful skill to have anyways it is a pretty useful skill to have anyway. (anyways is generally accepted only in colloquial speech or informal writing)

5. other foreign languages that I am not so capable of other foreign languages that I am not so fluent in. (When we talk about languages, we tend to use the phrase "fluent in". Capable of is always followed by the ability, quality or quality necessary to do or achieve a specified thing. For example, "The company isn’t capable of handling an order that large.")

6. I will not have been good at English a few years later - I will not be good at English in the future - (As you are thinking about the future, you do not need  "have been" here)

 

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bananap1's picture
I learn : English (Advanced) Japanese (Beginner)
1048

Thank you for your suggestions and corrections always.
I was not so sure about the whole "translate stuff and you will get better" thing as I have been shunning translation like the plague because of being in the non-translation, trying to be authentic camp; but I have come to think maybe it is not a bad idea after all. I will try translating short stories or plays in my own language into English and post it here, although it might be too long for someone to proofread it for free. Also I will make sure I summarize TV shows or books that I watch in English and post here.
As for language learning podcasts, I subscribe to The Fluent Show by Kerstin Cable (in which one of this website's user appears as a regular guest), How I Learn Languages and I Will Teach You A Language by Olly Richards. I also listen to a bunch of others but it is a story for another time I guess.
Regarding staying in an English-speaking country, I currently lack the time and money to do so and I am up for military duty; I have to serve as a public service agent for two years. In which period I cannot move nor travel for an extended period of time. Maybe after the service is done I can go work in the United States or Australia on a work holiday visa to fully immerse myself in the language, but for that I am planning to spend my time in some other language speaking countries such as Austria or Germany as I have just started to learn German.
You said that I am a very experienced learner, but I keep thinking why am I getting this much phrases wrong if I am really advanced. Moreover, I do not understand why controversy is uncountable when it is used alone but when not can be countable.

Again, thank you for your comment on my humble writing and hope you have a good day, although it may well be an evening in your country.

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bananap1's picture
I learn : English (Advanced) Japanese (Beginner)
1048

Thank you for your suggestions and corrections always.
I was not so sure about the whole "translate stuff and you will get better" thing as I have been shunning translation like the plague because of being in the non-translation, trying to be authentic camp; but I have come to think maybe it is not a bad idea after all. I will try translating short stories or plays in my own language into English and post it here, although it might be too long for someone to proofread it for free. Also I will make sure I summarize TV shows or books that I watch in English and post here.
As for language learning podcasts, I subscribe to The Fluent Show by Kerstin Cable (in which one of this website's user appears as a regular guest), How I Learn Languages and I Will Teach You A Language by Olly Richards. I also listen to a bunch of others but it is a story for another time I guess.
Regarding staying in an English-speaking country, I currently lack the time and money to do so and I am up for military duty; I have to serve as a public service agent for two years. In which period I cannot move nor travel for an extended period of time. Maybe after the service is done I can go work in the United States or Australia on a work holiday visa to fully immerse myself in the language, but for that I am planning to spend my time in some other language speaking countries such as Austria or Germany as I have just started to learn German.
You said that I am a very experienced learner, but I keep thinking why am I getting this much phrases wrong if I am really advanced. Moreover, I do not understand why controversy is uncountable when it is used alone but when not can be countable.

Again, thank you for your comment on my humble writing and hope you have a good day, although it may well be an evening in your country.

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edhutchins88's picture
I learn : Chinese (Beginner) French (Beginner) German (Beginner) Portuguese (Beginner) Spanish (Beginner) Arabic (Beginner)
3570

I'll definitely check out those podcasts.

So in Korea, is military duty still compulsory? It used to be in England but now it is no longer so. Are you looking forward to it?

I would definitely recommend you look into getting a working holiday visa once you've finished your military duty. The key thing is (when you are living in another country) is to make sure your surround yourself with native speakers of the language as much as you possibly can. When I lived in France, at first I was spending too much time hanging out with English speakers. Once I started to change this (and started to make sure I only spent time with French speakers) I noticed huge improvements in my French, which happened very quickly.

That's cool you are learning German too. How are you finding it?

You honestly don't get that much wrong. As I've probably mentioned to you before, I know plenty more native English speakers who make way more grammatical/spelling mistakes thank you! All you need to do is make sure you keep practicing :)

 

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bananap1's picture
I learn : English (Advanced) Japanese (Beginner)
1048

Yes, military duty is still compulsory as South Korea regards adjacent countries such as North Korea and China as potential (or definite) enemies. I am not looking forward to it, however. It's something that I have to do so I am just doing it.

At this point in time, nothing has been decided so I might spend my time in English speaking countries once I have finished my duty. So far, German seems to be more complex than English as there are more things to learn such as articles but I am enjoying it. It has not been that long so honestly I have no clue, though.

Your comment reminds me of my time in the United States. I was in an English class and my professor asked the students to fix each other's papers. I got one of the native speakers' paper and the paper seemed even to me atrocious as he had so many spelling errors and some tense errors. It has been not too long since I started studying English seriously so maybe perservering is something I have to do as you said. Thanks for helping me always.

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bananap1's picture
I learn : English (Advanced) Japanese (Beginner)
1048

How can I delete duplicate comments? I accidently commented twice and there seems to be no option to delete comments or reverse the decision I have made.

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edhutchins88's picture
I learn : Chinese (Beginner) French (Beginner) German (Beginner) Portuguese (Beginner) Spanish (Beginner) Arabic (Beginner)
3570

Unfortunately there does not appear to be any option to go back and delete / edit comments.

I'll ask the sites' developers about how we can fix this, as it would be very useful.

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Ros Watson's picture
I learn : Italian (Beginner) French (Beginner)
3449

Hi there.  I am so impressed with your writing and, indeed, your quest to be better at it.  As you have already said, the average native English speaker doesn't write nearly as well as you do! 

There is a lot of controversy about whether controversy is countable or uncountable :)    It can actually be used either way!  You can say "A political controversy" (countable singular), "There is some controversy about this" (uncountable) or "There are many controversies" (plural)!!!

I have several advanced students who still have some small issues with their writing.   Yours is extremely good and your use of idioms is quite exceptional!

Ros

 

 

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BeckyGreenBeans's picture
I learn : Spanish (Beginner)
3209

Hi! I really like how you've used idioms such as 'once in a blue moon' in this extract. In my opinion, it makes your writing more interesting to read than just using repeated phrases. 

Furthermore, instead of saying 'seems', you could use the phrase 'appears to be' to change your writing up a bit.

Thanks,

Becky :)

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