Help My English – ESL Tips from a Professional Editor

by admin on February 15, 2011

Expressing oneself clearly can be difficult when it comes to any language. Putting the concepts which appear so clear and self-evident in your head onto paper – with no feedback or interaction to let you know what you could have done to improve your statements – is typically a trial-and-error procedure. It appears to move two steps forward and three steps back. These kinds of issues are obviously tremendously magnified when you are operating in a language which just isn’t your mother tongue. Having somebody with a fresh perspective, who can help you, and certainly someone with no preconceptions, will often assist enormously.
An editor will be closely involved in your writing, working closely together with you.

He or she will generally be more than adequate in revealing to you exactly where your arguments need to be more substantiated; where connections between thoughts, paragraphs and chapters will have to be a lot clearer; where words and phrases are vague, ambiguous or repetitive; as well as many other subtle stylistic matters. A fresh set of eyes will also be valuable in aiding you, so that you know whether or not the structure of the piece you will be working on is suitable and balanced, and your editor will give you general advice on tone and word choice.

The following concerns are particular to ESL writers, in terms of grammatical and idiomatic style. A lot of people, when talking in or writing a foreign language, automatically transpose words into the grammatical patterns that they’re familiar with. This can lead to quite radically incorrect expressions, as can the use of idioms. The idiomatic density of English, and also the difficulty of becoming knowledgeable with it, will mean that a proofread by a first-language speaker is indispensible when one is preparing a piece of writing for publication.

Microsoft spelling and grammar check functions are also really beneficial, as is the thesaurus. These will all let you know whenever you have created a mistake, and will usually suggest the best way to change these. Additionally, there are proofreading tools with a very valuable referencing function, whereby one chooses which format to make use of, enters the many author and publication information and facts, and lets the program do the rest. The Purdue OWL internet site also supplies a thorough and accessible guide to APA, MLA and Chicago referencing formats.

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