The moment a new word comes out of your mouth (or your fingertips if you’re typing), the moment you own it. It becomes part of your active vocabulary. A moment of bliss, like that a collector may feel when adding a new element to the existing collection.
Exposure is key. It gives you the space to be able to expand your output.
Needless to say, living in a non-native English-speaking country limits your possibilities but let’s not use that as an excuse to neglect our productive skills. So, what to do? First and foremost, take the reins and be proactive. Yes, but how? Traditionally, the way to go is to sign up for lessons, which is definitely a good move but it doesn’t take you as far as you need to go, does it? What you do elsewhere and how often you do it, is what makes all the difference. Consider attending classes as a map and yourself as the pilot who may use the map but sometimes just folds it and follows their instinct. Consider what you are into, what motivates you and takes steps in that direction.
Here are some ideas, see which one/s works for you or alternatively, create your own.
1. Make a penfriend (or more) and make a point of writing to them often. There are numerous language exchange forums online, here is the one I have tested myself: https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/. This, in turn, may open the doors for future language exchange trips if you hit if off with the person you are writing to.
2. Keep a diary. You don’t need to commit to writing long entries if you are tight for time. A simple paragraph will do. Or a line, for that matter. Anything is better than nothing. Ideas of what you can include, range from an anecdote of the day, a thought, a description or a reference to an interesting conversation you’ve had, to entries of a more personal nature, talking about feelings, hopes, you name it.
3. A variation of the previous point is a news diary. Here you can record your account of some news on that day and maybe some analysis, too. For example:
o Listen + jot down key language
o Memorise those notes and set them aside. Write a summary of the news item following the 5Ws formula. What, who, why, when, where. https://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/pdf/5Ws.pdf
o Add a personal comment.
4. Be interactive on the Internet. If you can make a positive contribution to somebody’s work, send them a message. Don’t be afraid to make grammar mistakes, just do it as well as you are able to and it will surely be appreciated and also make you feel accomplished. Win-win!
5. Use English as a tool for daily notes. For example, to schedule your appointments, to write reminders to yourself, to do-lists, shopping lists… the list goes on.
6. And remember, don’t try them all at once. Pick and choose what feels more practical, realistic and effective to implement in your life.
Additionally, if you have any ideas on how to boost writing production that work for you, please, share them by sending me an e-mail. I will tag them on my list and mention your name.
Photo taken by: Hannah Olinger