English writing tips for ESL students
Having proofread and edited hundreds upon hundreds of academic dissertations, theses and articles over the years, it never ceases to amaze me how ESL students and academics not only have to master what can be a phenomenally difficult subject, but they also have to learn English to such a degree that they are able to articulate details of their chosen field to an external audience.
Here are some easy tips to help you make the most of your English writing.
1. Check your work. It sounds obvious, but it really is important. The best advice I can give you, as long as time allows, is to finish your article, thesis, dissertation, etc. and then leave it for a couple of days. Come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes, detach yourself completely from the content and just concentrate purely on how someone else might read the piece from an English language point of view (yes, it seems a bit nonsensical for a proofreader to be recommending you check your own work, but don't worry, the shameless self-promotion is down below). Essentially, don't concentrate on what is written but on how it is written.
2. Avoid repetition. Repetition about proofreading and editing, for instance, can be very repetitious when writing about proofreading and editing. So avoid repetition.
3. Try to use "connectives" -- powerful words that are used to join together otherwise disjointed text. They are good. They help with flow. In other words, connectives are good because they help with flow.
4. Hire an experienced, reputable proofreader from the outset. Okay, I'm bound to say that, but on quite a few occasions I have had to proofread a thesis or dissertation that was originally given to 'Jenny, who's a good friend and a natural English speaker'. Whilst I'm sure Jenny is lovely and lots of fun at parties, she's not a professional proofreader with many years' experience, and so it ends up being a bit of a false economy when she misses a few important errors or misinterprets what you are trying to say.
If you're interested in learning a little bit more about ESL proofreading and editing, please visit our ESL page.