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How to learn to write?

  Tags: Writing | Beginner
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
9 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
petteri
Triglot
Senior Member
Finland
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Speaks: Finnish*, English, Swedish
Studies: German, Spanish

 
 Message 1 of 9
24 August 2012 at 11:42am | IP Logged 
I have studied Spanish for around a year. At the moment I can read el Mundo without too much effort. Reading quality novels still requires heavy concentration as well as consultation of dictionary for rough parts.

Now I feel it is about the time to learn to write. What kind of writing exercises or tutoring have you successfully used in order to activate a foreign language?




1 person has voted this message useful



sans-serif
Tetraglot
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Finland
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 Message 2 of 9
24 August 2012 at 12:21pm | IP Logged 
I'm afraid I have no answers for you, but I think it would be helpful if you described
your current Spanish skills and how you've been studying in more detail. For example,
have you been studying with a textbook or doing something like listening-reading? How
would you rate your grammar knowledge? Also, when you say "write" do you mean writing in
a formal register (academic writing, fiction, etc.), something a little more relaxed like
forum and blog posts, or perhaps even text chat?

Whatever the case, I'm quite interested to hear everyone's experiences. Writing is still
by far my weakest skill, when it comes to my English, and I'm not sure what I should be
doing to refine it beyond just writing a lot and getting corrections.

Edited by sans-serif on 24 August 2012 at 12:26pm

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petteri
Triglot
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Finland
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 Message 3 of 9
24 August 2012 at 1:31pm | IP Logged 
I started my Spanish studies with reading grammar books as well as drilling most of Platiquemos and going through Assimil. I feel to have decent theoretical knowledge of Spanish grammar. As well I have noticed that through reading and listening I have already got some touch on the flow of the language.

My passive skills are at least approaching B2 level and number one challenge of understanding the language are gap holes of vocabulary which I fill up every day. But at the moment I do not really have any active skills and my inability to speak or write bothers me.

I have started to feel a growing need to be able to produce the language. Communication form of writing gives plenty of time to think, analyze and search for resources. Perhaps some writing course or simply tutoring could do it. It is hard to learn to write flawlessly without any feedback.
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petteri
Triglot
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Finland
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 Message 4 of 9
24 August 2012 at 1:56pm | IP Logged 
I gave more thought to my problem. Translation practice could be gentle way to start with. Do you know where useful Spanish translation exercises could be found? Any recommendations on books or Internet resources?
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emk
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United States
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 Message 5 of 9
24 August 2012 at 2:02pm | IP Logged 
petteri wrote:
My passive skills are at least approaching B2 level and number one
challenge of understanding the language are gap holes of vocabulary which I fill up
every day. But at the moment I do not really have any active skills and my inability to
speak or write bothers me.


If your passive skills are near B2, there's an easy fix for writing. Here's how I
learned to write semi-coherent French when I was a bit above B1:

1. I created an account on lang-8.com.
2. I wrote around 100 words every day for 30 days, on any subject that came to mind.
3. When people corrected me, I thanked them and interacted with them in French.

The improvement from day 1 to day 30 was pretty amazing. On day 1, I couldn't really
express what I wanted to say, and interacting was really difficult. By day 30, I could
actually write—not necessarily well, but well enough for my skill level. Along
the way, I fixed all kinds of grammar errors that showed up in my writing.

When you're writing, a few tips:

1. Try very hard to write as correctly as you can, and proofread carefully. If
you're sloppy, the best proofreaders will skip your essays. I would take this as far as
looking up the rules for correct Spanish punctuation.
2. When in doubt about how to express something idiomatically, try a search on
Linguee.

The real trick of Lang-8 is making friends with good proofreaders (and actually getting
on their "Friends" list). To do this:

1. Figure out who gives good corrections by reading the list of new entries in Spanish,
and by paying attention to who corrects your work.
2. Correct their English journals as carefully as you can. Mark outright errors in red,
suggest improvements in blue, and explain your corrections as best as you can.
This will make you very popular.
3. Make sure you officially become "friends" with the good correctors, so that they see
your entries at the top of their page.

25 persons have voted this message useful



sctroyenne
Diglot
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United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 6 of 9
24 August 2012 at 7:55pm | IP Logged 
I'm in a similar position as you - I've learned quite a bit about the structure of Spanish but I feel that I need to start writing to activate it. My problem is thinking of what to write about (a case of writer's block, if you will). The thing that makes it difficult is that in terms of structure, almost any subject is open to me - I can state opinions because I know subjunctive, I can write a narrative piece because I've learned all the various past tenses, etc. But I don't know a lot of vocabulary so it's hard to get started. I've started looking for writing prompts on the internet and also in textbooks. I downloaded a sample chapter of one textbook and I'm looking for interesting writing prompts and I found a used beginner's textbook at a friends of the library sale. And as mentioned above there's also the translation option. Just need to do it ;-)
1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
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Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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 Message 7 of 9
24 August 2012 at 11:29pm | IP Logged 
In my experience, reading can help greatly with writing :) Join lang-8 and keep reading! You may want to join a super challenge :)))
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maydayayday
Pentaglot
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United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, German, Italian, SpanishB2, FrenchB2
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 Message 8 of 9
25 August 2012 at 10:50am | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
I'm in a similar position as you - I've learned quite a bit about the structure of Spanish but I feel that I need to start writing to activate it. My problem is thinking of what to write about ....



I started writing a diary - after all something happens everyday doesn't it? I found a rapid improvement in day to day vocabulary - what I didn't know I looked up. I had these corrected by my tutor [who also pointed out useful idiom] eso es pan comido (it's a piece of cake). I also included forward plans for tomorrow and the more distant future.

I transcribed sections from HP to get a feel for the language and increase my typing speed.

After about 2 months of this I was writing fluently and reasonably well - still having to look up neccessary vocabulary. Then I wrote my first short story 500 words. I took the idea from a childrens competition on the BBC Radio2 and you'll be amazed how much 'story' you can get in 500 words.






Edited by maydayayday on 25 August 2012 at 10:53am



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