Writing English for non-native speakers


Writing long papers in English is difficult, especially without the language-privilege to have learned English as the first language. I want to give some advices of how to mastering the task and write long articles in a short amount of time.

A first it is important to know that the result is not comparable to the text of an english-native-speaker. The reason is, that English has different levels of which the top level is most difficult to learn. What non-native speaker can mastering in reality is called basic-english or with with more effort “business-english”. The difference is, that the vocabulary is reduced, the grammar is only sometimes correct and every true speaker of English will see that the text was written by somebody who have learned the language. The question is not, how to write a perfect document the question is more, of how to write basic-english.

In the first step, writing down the paragraphs has priority over correct spellchecking. That means, instead of preventing errors, the author should write as fast as possible. This results normally into many errors. In the second step, called proofreading, these errors have to be fixed. A good help is the integrated spellchecker of the word-processor. And some major grammar rules can the author correct by himself.

After the second step, comes no other third step. Instead it was the complete workflow. It results into a text, which is nearly 80% correct. It has no spelling errors, a reduced vocabulary, and minor grammar errors. The text can be understood by nearly half of world population and can identified clearly as written by a non-native-speaker. But, more is not possible. It is the maximum what is reachable and in most cases it is enough. In school notes, such documents gets only a mark 3, because the student is not really an expert for the language. But who cares? Mark 3 for an English text is better than writing no paper.

The interesting aspect in writing English is, that compared to the mother tongue the extra effort is not very high. I would assume that writing in English takes 2 hours while writing the same text in German takes 1 hour. In comparison, the potential readership is much higher. Instead of 100 million people, the text can read by 3 billion people. That’s 30x more.

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