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3 Ways International Students Can Improve Academic Writing

Improving your English academic writing isn't a quick or easy task, but constant practice will pay off at school and in your career.

A student listening to music and studying.

Translating a favorite short story, book or speech from your native language into English will improve your English language understanding and fluency. 

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If you are reading this blog, you probably already understand the importance of strong writing for your academic and career paths. There is no easy way to become an expert at writing, especially academic writing. But there are some tips to help international students make improvements.

Reading more and writing everyday are two fundamental best practices to help improve your academic writing. The more you read, the more you absorb different writing styles and can choose or create one for yourself. The more you write, the better you get at expressing your complicated thoughts. 

It takes time to become a better writer, so equip yourself with a solid attitude and consider some of the following suggestions. 

[Take advantage of these on-campus resources for international students.]

1. Become a translator: You don’t need to become a professional translator in order to improve your academic writing. Try translating your favorite short story, a page of your favorite book or an inspiring speech into your native language.

While doing so, you can pay attention to the structure of the story, new word choices and the way the author uses language transitions. You can then apply these discoveries when writing for your school assignments. Translating between English and your native language gives you a clearer sense of English and the proper way to use certain words, phrases and idioms.

[Learn to master these must-have college writing skills.]

2. Analyze dissertations in your field: You will probably need to read a number of research papers and dissertations throughout the academic year. Don't just try to skim them for information.

When a topic interests you, read it thoroughly to see how the author guides you through his or her writing. Think about the impact of the writer's introduction and the way he or she conveys different ideas. 

Be aware of what you read, feel the writing flow and try to apply what you’ve just learned to your own writing. I realized that by doing so, I became more conscious of what and how I was writing. I now make fewer mistakes and have a better grasp of structure.

[Get tips on writing an American academic paper.]

3. Don’t ignore your college writing center: Working one-on-one with a writing tutor brings you more helpful advice about academic writing than you might imagine. If you can’t manage your time enough to visit your campus writing center before every assignment, try to make regular appointments that fit your schedule.

The writing tutors might not help you proofread your entire essay, but they can highlight errors that you frequently make, give you alternative options for your wrong word choices and show you examples to help make your original sentences sound graceful and more like proper English. I treasure the time sitting with the tutor at my school’s writing center, as he has helped me in arranging my thoughts when I write and giving me advice about how to better learn and write English.

Working on your academic writing won't bring you a great result overnight. It's a long process of becoming aware of what good writing is, applying those findings and writing frequently.