7 Tips To Write Better in English When It’s Not Your Native Language

If you ever asked me about the #1 thing that contributed the most to my online successes, I'd not hesitate one second to say that it was my ability to write well in English.

While it was not my native language, I've learned a lot in the past 5+ years of consistent writing.

To put things into perspective, here's my first ever post published on August 4th 2010:

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my first post in english

I've come a long way right?

In today's post, I'll be sharing with you the 7 tips that got me from knowing almost nothing about the language to now where my writing is being read by thousands of people every month.

1. Read a lot

Before becoming a good writer, you need to be a good reader first. Consume as much English materials as you can. My favorites were blog posts and ebooks.

 You can read on whatever topics that you like. Just make sure you read a lot.

2. Write a lot

Writing is a skill. And it can be sharpened just like any other skill with deliberate practice.

When I first started out, I wrote like it was my only hobby in life. I did it daily and published several articles per week.

At the time, I didn't even give a damn about my writing quality or what my readers would think about it. I just enjoyed writing and wanted to keep doing it even if my blog wasn't making me any money whatsoever.​

If you encounter writer's block easily, then just start small. Don't think that you have to write a 2000 word long article.

Start with 200 word article. Or even write just the title and one sentence. Just do something small and simple to get the juice flowing.

You can also practice by writing blog comments on other blogs, writing emails or participating in forum or group discussions.

No matter what you want to do, and what skills you want to learn, you will never just wake up one day and suddenly become an expert. Keep improving by doing, and never give up.

3. Don't bother learning grammar or vocabulary

Don't get me wrong, if you know some basic grammar, it's gonna help.

But don't get caught up in trying to have the perfect error-free grammar or use the most polished words in your articles.

This may sound crazy to some people but for the first 2 years of writing, I didn't know any grammar and my vocabulary was pretty limited too.

What I did was really simple.

Read a lot of blogs and ebooks. Noted down cool phrases or sentences that I liked. Paid special attention to the context that they're being used in.

Then when writing, find opportunities to use the exact phrases or sentences in the most appropriate way possible.

Doing this a few times and you'll memorize the meaning of that phrase or sentence deep into your conscious mind. The next time you'll write it out naturally without even thinking about it.

I did that for years and I'm still doing it now. And believe me it worked!

4. Follow a writing template

Keep notes of some basic writing templates that you can follow when doing a new post.

This will help to save time while increasing the quality of your article instantly.

For example, the post you're reading is a list post and all the most important points are in bolded sub-headings.

5. Ask friends for feedback

Sometimes it's very hard for you to judge your own writing because you're too personally attached to it.

So it's a good idea to ask your friends for feedback. I'm sure you know someone who is better at English than you. If you have a native English speaker friend, then it's even better.

6. Engage with other writers and bloggers

Whatever you're writing about, it's likely that there are other people doing the same.

Connect with them via emails or commenting on their blogs. Make friends. Then ask for their feedback. Bloggers are friendly and generous by nature and they'll be happy to help.

7. Educate yourself

Apart from taking daily action, you need to actively learn from successful writers as well. There are lots of good resources on this topic. Some of my favorites are:

Conclusion

If you're reading this, then you know it's possible for a non-native English speaker to write well in English 🙂

My writing now is by no means perfect but it’s good enough to effectively communicate my ideas and thoughts to thousands of people from all around the globe.

If you're committed to put in the efforts needed to practice, then you'll get better no matters where you're now with your writing skills.

Are you trying to get better at writing? Do you have any questions that I can help you with? Just leave a comment below.

Tung Tran

Tung Tran is the founder of CloudLiving.com.
  • Hey,
    what are your top10 blogs your regulary read?

    • I don’t read many blogs. Current favorites one are:

      1. ProjectLifeMastery.com
      2. AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com
      3. Authorityhacker.com

  • Hi Tung Tran,

    thanks for sharing , my English is not good , writing skill is poor but i will practice day by day. ^^

    Ray

    • Yes Ray! With consistent practice, you’ll be better everyday 😀

  • Completely helpful content. I can not agree more.

    Growing up and learning English in a traditional way (in which you get to do a lot of grammar exercises, you know), I am really good at grammar (and I am not bragging).

    But when I started to write, I realized that grammar was the essential element, and that doesn’t mean you have to know super advanced stuff to be able to write well.

    So Tung’s tips are exactly what I followed – reading a lot, practicing a lot and CONSISTENTLY, keeping in mind a certain amount of writing templates, and practicing writing in those templates. Getting feedback is always needed to improve your work, no matter what it is. After all, a group of people who share the same interest with you is the best way to keep yourself on track.

    I really resonate with this and would highly recommend this article to non-native speakers / writers!

    Good luck everyone!

    JB (at junebui.com)

    • Thanks JB 🙂 Your writing is already very good too. Keep writing more 😛

  • I totally agree with all the points in your article, Tung.

    I’ve never for once thought that you learned writing in
    English on your own. This reminds me of the quotes that
    says: “Formal education will make you a living, but self-education
    will make you a fortune”.

    Keep up the good work, buddy.

    You rock!

    Saeed

    • Thanks Saeed!

      I did learn some in school but most of the usable English was on my own 😛

  • Hey Tung,

    Yes, you’ve come a long way! 🙂

    I recently discovered this Chrome extension:
    https://app.grammarly.com/
    It really helps with grammar and structuring the sentence, great to grow further for us non-native.

    Cheers

    • Yes. I forgot to mention this. I’m using this too. Thanks Daniele!

      • Tools such as Grammarly are great but often they don’t do you much good because they’re developed in such a way that they try to correct even the idioms. Although you say that grammar isn’t important, I believe it is… to a certain extent. Sure, nobody’s asking you to be Hemingway all of a sudden, especially if you’re not a native English speaker, but you have to pay attention to some basic Grammar rules (‘If’ clauses and such). I totally agree with the rest of the ideas in your article, such as reading and writing a lot, and I’d like to add watching American movies w/ subtitles. That also helps a lot. 🙂
        All in all, a great article, and you’ve come a long way from writing that first post of yours!

  • Huu Thong says:

    Hi Tung,

    I’m learning from you so much…
    Keep going, Men!

  • Hello Tung I’m Brazilian, my English is not very good, I know a few words what helps me is the same google translate lol

    While not 100% accurate helps sometimes …

    I want to dedicate future creating a blog in English lol

    Excellent job!

  • Hey Tung. Thanks for the encouraging article. English was not my first language either. But growing up, I had a love to travel the world and I knew that people outside of my country would not understand my English. So from a young age, I learned to read and write properly. After I graduate from high school, I started traveling and it has benefited me until now. I totally agree with your 7 points about learning English.

  • Hamza Butt says:

    All of the above are amazing tips Tung. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Tung

    i was amazed by your writing,as it shows as if english was your mother tongue language..later i learned that it is not,but you truly shown that with perseverance and alot of blogging..nothing is unachievable..hehe

    Good job mate..you’ve inspired me though i have a long way to go be as good as you’ re..at least you’ve shown that it can be done

  • Your writing is excellent Tung, you’ve come a long way through hard work and perseverance. Congrats!

  • Tung Nguyen says:

    Thank you for sharing. Your posts are fantastic!

  • Hi Tung,

    Great sharing and valid tips. I’m surprised that you’ve learned English by yourself.
    Your writing sounds natural.

    Keep up good work!

    • Yeah it “only” took me 5 years and 7 months to get to the level I’m at now:P

      • Đào Phanh says:

        Yeah, just only 5 years and 7 months!;)) isounds like my Chinese level now, bro! Couldn’t believe in such a long time has gone by!!! It took me 7 years for CN too and then now I have to turn on English to make it a better place, at least the same as Chinese level! Another 5years only ???;))

          • Dao Phanh says:

            haha you have always been that modest, bro! 😛 Anw, just feel like so pround of you and your english definitely impressed me! It encoraged me to use english bravely as there is one non-native english speaker here could also be excellent in English by hiself!!! 😉

  • Great post.

    This advice is actually sound for learning anything really. Basically you can boil it down to: learn as much as possible and don’t get too caught up in the details!

    I live in Laos right now and I am learning Lao, (slowly I might add), but the point is that you should just give it a go. People may laugh at you and you might get it wrong, but just giving it a go is more than most people would even dare.

    This is especially true with websites.

    Anyone who is scared about starting shouldn’t be. Just make sure you know the basics, and then implement them.

    Loving the blog as usual and really looking forward to the next case study update.

    • Thanks for the support Harry! You’re right this can apply to everything.

  • The best way would be selecting the topic which is more interesting to you so that you could keep writing.

    I initially choose to write on technical topics related to my job so as to help to improve my writing skills and at the same technical skills as well.

  • Nice and informative post Tung. And specially thanks again for noticing this superb article to me. Cheers!

  • Man, your writing has come a long way since that first blog post! Some really solid tips here.

  • Hi
    In your blog post you ask for practicing in forums and prefered blog . so i’m doing it right now because you’re one of those best blogs.

  • Hi Tung
    Will really say that todays piece is to motivate the non english native which am one of them.
    Analyzing this piece and how far you’ve gone, i must say it is patience and persistence that did the magic. In the early stage. People will mock your writings when not properly writen or structured however just be focus fellow nichers.
    Practice they say leads to perferction. cheers Tung.

  • Md. Habibe Azam says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this useful post. I will practice to write english every day to improve my writing skill.

  • thank you, great article !!

    how did you learn English?!! (speaking)

  • Hey Tung,

    Slightly off topic dude, when you place a order from TextBroker. Do you use there template they provide ? or do you have your own template on how to structure the post ? Any tips ? Thanks

    • I have my own template. Next week’s article is about Textbroker. So stay tuned 🙂

  • Such a fantastic article Tung, I really enjoyed reading it! English learner’s need more people like you to show them what is possible! Awesome work! Would you mind if I share your article to my Facebook Group? 🙂

  • I can relate to many points here!

    I am a non-native English speaker myself and what you said here are really how I learn to get better in writing.

    There was time that I just got discouraged and not confident about myself, so really thank you for sharing this.

    You just inspired me to restart my daily writing ritual again!

    I am from Malaysia and currently based in Singapore. I visited Viet Nam few years back but haven’t had chance to go Hanoi. Hope to meet you personally in this digital nomad and lifestyle entrepreneur space one day!

    – Hazel

    • Awesome Hazel! I’m living in Saigon now so just ping me when you drop by 😀

  • Great article, Tung. Your writing and English surpasses many native speakers.

    I’m an editor at a large Chinese tech company in Shenzhen. Many of my Chinese co-workers amaze me with their English dexterity, and without having ever stepped outside China.

    Just goes to show what perseverance and hard work can accomplish. Continued success to you.

    Terence

  • hey sir tung 🙂 I am a Filipino and with regards to writing, It’s given that our race is one of the top Writers in the World. Anyway i,m not one of them. Reading your blog inspires me a lot. Its very personal and i think very applicable to all bloggers both newbies and experienced bloggers.I read your book about amazon affiliate that is bought by one of my friend. Its my first time to see your face right now. You’re great. I am looking forward that somehow, please if you have blog about how to start a blog? kindly share the link and if not, please do a blog regarding it. 🙂 thank you. I really love your writing.

  • Very helpful article. You have focused on writing in general. Could you please do an article on writing blogs or articles for niche site for non-native-english bloggers or article writers.

    I know there are lots of services where you can have them written. But most of the time, the ideas behind the article to be written cannot be conveyed clearly.

    Thanks

  • Thank you Tung, this was very helpful!

    I love #3 which is the exact way a child learns their native language, we just forget about it when we grow up.

  • Thank for your nice post, Tung. Now, I also learn English on my own. And when i’m reading, I always don’t understand phrasal verbs or noun phrases. Would you recommend me some tips or techniques, tools to know it in-depth.

    I try on Google, but it takes me a lot of time.
    Thanks in advance

    • I usually do a search like this “the word you dont understand” + “meaning”.

      It’s that simple 🙂

  • Investing in my writing skills has been one of the best things that I’ve done in my professional life.

    The great part about writing is there’s always someone who’s looking for talented writers, so even if you fail building your business, people will still want to pay you to write articles for them.

    And I don’t mean $5, Fiverr style articles. I’m talking about getting $150 per piece.

    That’s where I’m at right now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. As you said it in your post – keep on writing, your skill will improve without you thinking about it.

  • I can relate to this. English isn’t my native language. I’m a beginner when it comes to writing. My English vocabulary is also limited.

    I often use a translator apps when writing. Thanks for this post Tung Tran. This is a big help.

  • Hi Tung,

    Thanks for your sharing. It’s really inspired contents for non-English speaker including myself. By the way, I have a question about the proof-reading tools to be used in WordPress, do you think it will be useful cause I did not see much correction it pointed out from my article or you have any recommendations for the plugins can be applied? I’m currently using the free version of wordpress site though.

    I am just starting my first blog recently and find it stuck whenever I wanted to start writing. The reasons why were various from worried about my grammars, the sentences and how to keep the story interesting.

    So, this article has been very helpful and inspired me to re-start again courageously and keep practicing. Cheers, appreciate that!

    • I think most tools are okay but not 100% accurate.

      Still better to have another person to look at your writing for you.

  • Hi Tung,

    We have few people working with from Ho Chi Minh City and they are also great like you, and I like your attitude in learning and glad to see this post of yours.
    From 2010, you made a lot now. Keep it up and thanks for sharing.

    Noel

    P.S. – I’m also one of the non-english people that trying hard to have a blog but stucked to start 🙂

  • Great advices! My native language is Arabic, and even though they teach English in schools, almost all of my friends can’t make a proper sentence (like: he was ate the banana) and their vocabulary are miniscule. They always asked me how I became fluent, and my answer was always reading. I started getting interested in the English language when I watched subbed American TV shows, and thought, ‘I want to watch TV without subtitles’ kind of a stupid reason to make me “explore” a language, but whatever. I learned English in the same way you did, I only understood the context. Which explains why I still can’t translate some words into Arabic even though I understand how and when to use these words. I’ve been reading English novels for four years, and they helped me more than what school taught me. Keep reading, folks, that’s what helped me the most.
    And damn, this comment is so long…

  • SR Almani says:

    Hi there,
    Good advise from you, i am just having hard time to cohesive my sentenses, but working on it. I write fairly good (thats what i think), but when i read it myself i find my thoughts little haphazard!! I woild love if i get free online source to proof read or edit my writing. Specially setting complete sentences at proper place or mix n match appropriately. Thanks

  • Great tip for a non English speaker like me. Thank you for sharing this with me.

  • Hi Tung,

    Thank you for sharing this article. I also begin to write in English for my travel blog since 2014. The post is encouraging people to keep writing and practice to become a good writer.

    Best,
    Steven

  • Hello Tung,
    I don’t write a lot, maybe I should say not nearly enough. I keep telling myself and others my English is bad, and the reason I often gave is my wife’s writing is so much better, and that is the fact. ^_^ But today, I googled the phrase “learn how to write better when English is not my first language”, your article comes up first.
    First, congratulation to this achievement through years of hard work! Second, I want to thank you for sharing these simple tips which will definitely help me write better.
    I am also a web developer myself, I have many ideas I will like to share on my blog and many overdue blog post. But perhaps, this is the beginning of my journey to better my English. I will check back in a week to let you know my progress!

    Blessing,
    Eddy

  • Hey!! just practicing one of the tips “comment on other blogs…” Thanks for the tips and especially thank you for make me feel I can make it!
    Cheers.

  • Thankyou Bro, I just started blogging on this month, as non-english native speaker its really help alots! one more time, thankyou bro!

  • Hi Tung,
    Thank you for making me feel better. I have this only dream in my life, that is to become a great writer. Since I want to reach more people, I need to write in English, rather than in my native language. But, the irony is that, I have never even wrote a post on facebook or even reviewed or commented anything online. I sometimes write in a journal which I keep secretly, but the quality of it never even impressed me. I feel sad, when I see most of the people write good articles, with such quality words and style, while I can’t do even a percent of that, even after being a good reader and a person who can speak English fairly well.
    Now, your article gives me hope! I realized, what I have been doing wrong all these years. I feared to write, thinking what people will think about me, if I couldn’t write a good a piece of article. What if, they made fun of me? I now know that, nobody writes perfect on their first attempt. It takes practice and lot of effort, to atleast reach a standard level. I know that, never bother about what people will think about you And by commenting down here, I start following your most valuable and my favorite tip from this blog!

  • Hi there, first off thank you for the tips and encouragement that it is possible. Are out there some apps to organize phrases and expressions to find them easier when you need them or like tasting you daily by poping up questions (what does it mean or rephrase it) that finally it would stick. My problem is in the area of business writing where language used should be less frivolous and more sophisticated, sentences more structured. I’ve got constant criticism from my husband that I can’t write so can’t get a job where is required to effectively communicate!!!

    • You CAN write. That’s for sure. Just reading more and more business materials and you’ll improve really fast.

  • salman barani says:

    thank you for your amazing article.it have helped me a lot, I’m trying to make a blog and learn digital marketing along the way, and your concepts were amazing for me, I got inspired to start.

  • hi Tung,
    I am commenting first time your site after reading helpful article thanks for sharing it’s very helpful

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