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Ashish Kumar

PhD Candidate, Indian Institute of Technology Indore

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What should I do to improve the quality of my writing in English?

English is not my native language. My primary education was in Hindi (native language). Now I am research scholar, want to complete my PhD. For this I have to write my paper in English.
I listen many English song, see English movie and and also read English news article. But written article by me is not so impressive for my teacher. Some time I typed wrong. there are lot of grammatical error.
Every time I get nervous to face my guide. I am loosing my confidence.
I don't know How I have to improve. I am doing my best to improve my skills.

please suggest some good idea as I understand basic English. So I don't want basic idea to overcome this problem like read this do this listen music and etc.
Hope I have explain my problem. if any other information you want please let me know?

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    Oct 22 2013: Hi ashish many faces with such problem's so don't worry much.

    First of all "English is a Funny language" (for those who don't understand)

    Try using maximum time Microsoft Word and even better read a column of "Times of India" that interest you memorize it and try to type it, slowly you will overcome for sure after all you are Scholar.

    All the best
  • Nov 17 2013: I would say be my pen pal and allow me to assess your writing styles, and concepts that you have a pattern of not being successful with. I'm not sure how that would happen, so instead I will tell you that people have very obvious patterns, even concerning the mistakes that they make. Change the mistakes and fill in the gap of understanding and grasping the concept being conveyed and your written English will improve greatly.
    • Nov 17 2013: Thank you Mary sunshine,
      It will be my pleasure to be your pen pal. I think if you check my English writing and tell my mistake, definitely It will helpful for me to improve my English. But point is how we can communicate, according to me Email is best option. So tell me your email, I will send you some English essay written by me. If you have some other option, please tell me.

      Once again Thank you so much :)
  • Nov 6 2013: I would suggest a combination of writing and reading. Read a little bit of a book on grammar in conjunction with writing and reading other high quality English sources. English material of reliable quality will include most classical English literature (although this is the least useful), high-end newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, and anything published in association with a university press (i.e. Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge) or an academic thereof. For the latter I would target non-technical books published by professors in your field, even if wasn’t through their university press (they should still be associated with one of those school). It isn’t that other academics of presses don’t publish high quality English material, but rather those four schools are zealous in their adherence and advancement of an academic writing style which will be of interest to you as a PhD student.

    I would suggest writing any form of expository writing, even if it is creative in nature (such as a story). One of the common exercises I perform is to attempt to explain some modern cultural, political or technological element to a historical figure that is an expert in a field, but unfamiliar with the new concept. So I will explain the Tea Party political movement to Thomas Jefferson, or maneuver warfare to Julius Caesar.

    Pick up a couple of books on grammar and a couple style guides. In grammar, one of these should be one of the books in the Oxford English Grammar series. The US Government Printing Office Style Manual is free online.

    Basically, this is what I did:
    1) Read the grammar guide and pick a rule to focus on
    2) Read an expository piece; try to find that rule in use whenever it occurs.
    3) Write something; don’t force the use of the grammar rule.
    4) Edit one or more of the things you have written. Use all the grammar rules you have focused on, plus look up any grammar or style questions you have.
    5) Repeat
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    Oct 22 2013: Make sure you use the plural for nouns; I noticed in your post all nouns are on singular : English song should say English songs, English movie should say movies; news article should say news articles ; grammatical error should have been grammatical errors.
    So you can start by making sure you make correct use of singular (one)/plural (many)
    Kuldeep's idea to memorize text is very good.
    Good luck
    • Oct 23 2013: Thank you very much Anairda Sapul
      For telling my errors. I will work on it.
      thanks once again
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    Oct 22 2013: English is second language for me too and I understand how you feel. What I would suggest is to borrow sentences or snippets of sentences from intelligent writings/literature and put them together (I mean sentences that say about what you intend to say) Look then at these sentences and see how else they could be used to say something else. I tried at one point to learn some Hindi and I know how different it is from English. I felt for years that the incapacity to express my ideas was affecting my personality; many times I would say other things than what I wanted to say just because it was the thing I could say correctly, intelligently (not a bad way to handle if you can get away with it). In my case learning the language was a survival matter since I was an immigrant. I am currently observing this struggle on an exchange student from France that I am hosting for this school year ; he is trying not to translate in his head but to speak directly while his vocabulary is limited. He's been here two months and I can see already an improvement. It might be harder if you have the pressure of a deadline for phd thesis. Writing is much easier though than talking directly; you can proof what you wrote and fix the errors (make sure you always do that)
    This is what I could think to write from the top of my head but please let me know if you have specific questions.
  • Nov 17 2013: OK, I am willing to try to be constructively critical. I do not believe in being rude deliberately so do not fear. Email can be very tricky as viruses and malware are an issue. A moderated online setting would be best. Do you want to use this forum to address each other? Or a site like, www.penpalworld.com, which may serve our purpose better. Just inform me of your preference.

    Just as an example of how things can work:
    To begin with you did well in the first sentance, "It will be my pleasure to be your pen pal."

    The second sentence would have read a bit more smoothly like this: "I think if you check my English writing, and explain any mistakes; it will definitely be helpful to me; because it could help me to improve my English."

    You, are already very good at grasping the words meaning. Simply organizing the words into a way that a native speaker may use could help you in terms of fine polishing your already well grasped understanding of the language will be of great help to you. So, yes, I will help you if you like. :O) It sounds like a great suggestion.
    • Nov 18 2013: Dear Mary,
      First I would like to say thanks once again for introduction of new site penpalworld, where I can communicate with new peoples.

      I will be fine for me to use any site. At this site I don't know how to communicate with you without changing the subject of debates/question. At www.penpalworld.com, I can see only 3 message on a day. By the way I have registered at PENPAL and My ID is ashishvlsi10.
      I think we have to choose such platform where we can solve our purpose without disturbing other.
      After concern all the points site www.penpalworld.com is better than this site if no option to send message to you at this site.
      if you evaluate my English writing, you will be my teacher and I will be your student. So as doctorate student and by honesty with GOD, I can promise to you no circulation of your email for Virus and Malware.

      Thank you for mention point in second sentence. Looking forward hearing from you.
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        Nov 18 2013: Dear Ashish,
        Please don't forget to thank this wonderful platform, TED too :) It's full of kind, intelligent and helpful people and I am happy to see you getting help right away. Best wishes for your Phd dissertation.
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    Nov 17 2013: Hi~, I really see there're many people who write beautiful English here. So I suggest you can read more of their comments and practice more writings here. Reading English newspapers and magazines and mastering more vocabulary and ways of expressing will also boost your writing skill, I think.
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    Nov 17 2013: Dear Ashish,
    As someone who began with the same handicap as yours and not faring so badly with this language now, my advice would be to read as many books as possible and write to imitate one author's style.
    Writing a thesis in English is really not tough because it is technical writing and it is one of the least creative. If your problem is just to cope with that you would require reading similar literature. Writing truly good and expressive English may require you years of practice.
    Don't get intimidated. Many native speakers of this language do not write good English. :)
  • Oct 25 2013: Probably, the most effective way to improve the quality of your writing in English for the purpose to complete your PhD dissertation is to read more scholarly articles. In this process , be sure to pay more attention to the structure of the sentences, instead of the research results of these papers. Your problems are due to the popular "habit" for many students who learn a second language by translating your thinking, or what you wanted to say or write, by interpreting word by word from your native language into English in their original order, without the awareness of the very different structures of the two languages. Therefore you must quickly learn the different structures, or more importantly, you must learn the sentence structure of English language, and completely "divorce" from the rules in your original language. Reading of some technical books in your field of interest should be fine, but again you should pay more attention to sentence structure than to the formulas or definitions.
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    Oct 22 2013: Find English grammar online games to improve your use of prepositions.

    There is an online game for virtually all grammar lessons.

    Your improvement is a click away.......just google!

    Let me know if you want a couple of links as examples.

    Your vocabulary is wonderful.......it is the grammar that needs help....
  • Oct 22 2013: Read a hell of a lot, write a hell of a lot.
  • Oct 22 2013: if it s bout the writing read often and write everything you wanna publish on line for example on the microsoft word.
    if it s about the speaking well watch movies listen to music watch even shows etc...
  • Oct 22 2013: Since you did not specify the field, for science read papers written in English in that specific field. Each field has its own specific flow. I would also find theses on problems that are close to yours.