Writing and writing correction - how to get the most out of it

Writing is a great way to improve our language skills. At the exchange at LingQ you can have your writing corrected by native speakers of the language you are learning.

Don’t expect that having your writing corrected will fix your grammar mistakes. Research consistently shows that writing correction is not effective in correcting mistakes. However, just the act of writing, in the knowledge that someone else will review what you write, forces you to put a lot of effort into looking up words and grammar as you construct what you want to say in the language you are learning.

When I correct English I find that “use of words” is by far the most common area of error, rather than particular points of grammar. That is why I would only ask a native speaker to correct my writing. Usually it is only a native speaker, or someone who has lived in the country where the language is spoken for a long time, who has that natural sense for standard usage.

What I find most useful when I get my corrected writing back, is to save the phrases and patterns that my corrector has used to replace what I wrote, to make it more natural. So the writing correction report becomes content for me at LingQ!

Here is a video I did on the subject.

"That is why I would only ask a native speaker to correct my writing. "
Some tutors are more native than others.


And some non-natives think they are better than natives …


I don’t agree 100%. I know a lot of non-natives that write grammatically better than natives. I have seen here at lingq a lot of writing corrections (French and German) that were not 100% correct.
I also believe that a non-native teacher is better for beginners because he/she will know the problems learning the foreign language. What concerns speaking, a native speaker is of course the better choice.

I doubt whether there is a well-written, very natural essay that includes several so-called grammatical errors. There is not such a thing. The ‘Writing Correction’ service on LingQ is very useful. I imagine that native tutors can tell which expression is incorrect, even if they cannot explain the unnaturalness or errors in grammatical terms.

I am not interested in writing an essay like one in The New Yorker; I welcome minimum correction. It is useful to differentiate between ‘incorrect’, ‘okay’, and ‘better’. I hope that tutors make corrections with these differences in mind. If I were a tutor of Japanese, I would point to ‘incorrectness’ and suggest a better expression.


Agreed. Not all corrections made by native speakers are well done. It is best to wait to distribute points. Often more than one person corrects the text. That is a major advantage of the Exchange. Previously only one person could correct a text. I would not want a text corrected by a non-native speaker, however.

I agree that non-natives often write and even speak more grammatically correctly than some natives. It is also true that not all corrections done by natives are well done. Sometimes unnecessary corrections are made or mistakes are missed. That is why it is best to wait until awarding points.
For a beginner it really does not matter much who corrects since there are so many mistakes or examples of unnatural usage. However, for intermediate and advanced learners the issue is usually unnatural phrasing and usage and there I would not have confidence in a non-native corrector. I would not award points to a non-native. I want to learn natural phrases and native like use of words. I am not so concerned about grammar issues which I know i have to get used to on my own.
Here are some links to studies that show that correcting grammar mistakes has little effect.


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I agree. We advise our correctors to only correct obvious examples of incorrect or poor usage. We should not over-correct but rather stay as faithful as possible to the intent of the writer.

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The only thing I wanted to say is that a native speaker is not a guarantee for correct corrections. I receive a lot of emails(for my job) from all over the world. There are not many that write correctly.
When someone of France is mixing parle, parlé, parler, it is inacceptable for me. I am only intermediate in Spanish but I receive a lot of emails from south America (Peru, Argentina, Columbia)where even I see the mistakes.
That is the reason, why I have more confidence when my text is corrected by someone who is teacher or a professional translator even if he/she is not a native.

I agree, but please read my comment on the comment of Steve

I understand your point. However, most mistakes that you get from native speakers are careless mistakes “parler, parlez” etc. or spelling mistakes that the Latin Americans seem so prone to commit, especially since soft “c” and “z” are pronounced like “s” and not like “th” as in Spain. We all have our preferences. It may well be that a good teacher or translator will be better at rephrasing examples of awkward usage, and that is important to me. As for the odd carless mistake, spelling mistake, or even wrong case, the evidence shows that the correction has little effect.

I am one of those non-natives that Vera had perhaps in mind. I know that I am better than some natives! I have lived in the UK for a long, long time and I am pretty sure I know most of the ins and outs of the language. :slight_smile:

Sanne, that is why I said a native or someone who has lived in the country where the language is spoken for a long time. But there are always exceptions, but usually someone needs to use the language a lot to be really on top of natural usage.

I am sorry Steve but that is point on which I cannot agree. If someone claims he can correct a french text and is confusing parler, parlez,… he should better do something else. (perhaps starting learning french with lingq )

Sanne, non-natives better than natives do exist!

Sanne, no I didn’t have you in mind. I know that your knowledge of English is amazing!

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They exist but they are not wide spread. The problem are the non-natives who think they know it better, but they do not. Natives can sometimes not explain the grammar, but they know how to use the language without having to think about it.

I cannot speak for other languages but the writing corrections in the German slot with the biggest problems are the ones by non-natives. Natives sometimes oversee a typo or a slight problem too, but all overall they have a better knowledge. Especially regarding the natural use of the language they are much better. A non-native speaker can be helpful for a beginner especially if he has the same native language. That is where I agree. But as soon as possible a student should switch to a native speaker. To make it clear: I’m speaking of a well educated native speaker.

I agree completely, corrections, whether its for writing or speaking, in themselves don’t automatically help you get it right next time. But they do help highlight areas where you may need to focus, i.e. “Ok, I’m getting corrected on the genitive case a lot, so I’ll spend some time working on that”. But also I think if you can take those corrected sentences and revisit them, via rereading or flashcards then that can help reinforce the correct patterns whether its grammar or word usage. At least that’s the theory I’m operating on at the moment. Like you say, the corrections become content. But certainly just “making a mental note” has zero effect, if they did my Russian would be perfect by now!

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I work for an international company and whilst some Europeans can speak excellence European English ( for want of a better phrase) once you start chatting with them they are often lost. So although within their limited vocab they may be gramatically exčellent, they all without fail, make mistakes only a 5 year old would in England. A good example of this is: ‘i need the report til Friday’. My point is, although non-natives may excel in certain areas, overall i would tend to opt for the native speaker.

Also to say: ´I know I am better than some natives’, sounds a little conceited at best.