Writing in the target language?

For those who write in the target language, how useful have you found it to be? I’ve been thinking of perhaps doing some writing once a week or so alongside the rest of my learning, but I don’t really know how to go about it or what to write about (besides “anything”). Any tips or ideas?

I learned how to write in French by gradually using chat site more and more frequently. I think I have the writing ability for most situations in French, now. Coming up with topics to write articles and the like is, in my opinion, an extra and unnecessary step. If you ever need to perfect your article writing for a test or for education, you can get your level up quickly with the help of a teacher.

I am interested in everything under the sun. I try to read news articles written in English, which is one of my target languages. Usually, I can find several interesting topics to write about. Some are very funny and some are very scary. Someone, whose username escapes me at the moment , wrote somewhere on the LingQ forum that I was obsessed with a con artist named Donald Trump. But I think that he is a threat to American democracy. I don’t want to see the world become more dangerous because of a reckless person like him.

Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy http://wpo.st/NHXo1

I find it very useful. I think a combination of hand writing pre-existing sentences (copying directly or some sort of flashcard type drill) and texting is the most efficient. And if it were me, I’d do a few minutes a day rather than once a week.

That being said, I’m primarily interested in conversation, somewhat interested in reading, and interested very little in the actual skill of writing. If becoming a good writer is important, one will probably need to spend much more time on it, writing essays, getting corrections, etc.

Writing is very effective way to master any language, especially if you can get a feedback. By feedback, I mean, when you need to keep a conversacion ongoing with your writing partners.

The best way is to become a part of huge community, for instace; onlinegames are very sufficient in this term.

I spend a good hour a day copying Russian sentences in sort of an altered goldlist, SRS, format. Been doing it for two months and I’ve found it to be quite effective in terms of spelling and general grammar.

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For me, speaking is much more effective at turning input to output.

I think practicing writing is really important in whatever language you are learning, no matter what level you are at. When I started out learning German, I transcribed German texts from the beginner’s books I had simply to get my fingers used to writing “Englisch” with a “c” instead of the 8 letter version in English. I found that taking the time to write out short dialogues in perfect German really helped to get me used to writing German. It’s incredible the number of times I would write a word without ever noticing that I had written the English version instead. Such as “is” instead of “ist” for example. I felt at the time that I was probably wasting my time, but I don’t think I was. I really needed to get used to writing German and this was my way of doing that. I was at about A0 level at the time. My next step was to translate the German text I had transcribed into English, and most unfortunately, I overlooked the next step which is obviously to translate the English text back into German again. I guess if I had done that, my German grammar would be better today.

If you are at a low level, then you could practice writing by transferring information you have to a form. At lower levels there are always exam tasks that include reading a text and answering questions about it. Filling the gaps in sentences, or transferring information in a paragraph to filling in a form of some kind. This is usually what would be practiced at about A0, A1 or A2. Pure beginner to elementary. As your level increases, and you reach intermediate level, your needs change and you can do exercises such as for example, writing to an imaginary penal. A typical task requires something along the lines of the following: This is part of a letter you receive from your penfriend, James. In your next letter, please tell me about the music you like. What’s your favourite kind of music? Do you play an instrument? Now write a letter, answering your penfriend’s questions.You have your pen friend’s letter in front of you and this helps you - or inspires you - to write back. This is at a B1 level. As you get better and reach high intermediate level, B2, you could practice writing a 150 word essay on a given topic such as: Is is a good thing that countries spend a lot of money on their heritage?
Write about:

  1. preserving the past
  2. investing in the future
  3. ________ (your own idea)

By the time you reach advanced level, C1 and above, you’ll know exactly how to go about it and what to write about. The world is at your feet when you are at that level. You’ll find that many C1 and C2 level non-native speakers write on this very forum. They enjoy practicing their English skills! Not much use for us native speakers though, as writing English here on the forum doesn’t really give us anything. Pity the other forums are not so active!

The steps I describe relate to my personal experience. I think it is important to practice writing even at the very beginner’s stage when you are simply copying text in your target language just to get your fingers used to writing in that language, or to get your hand used to writing in that language, should you choose pen and paper. I was dying absolutely dying to get from A0 to A1, at A0 you can’t do anything. You are less than a beginner. At least when you get to A1 you are actually at a tangible level.

I do hope I’ve given you some ideas, although I have no idea what language you are targeting nor the level you are at. I see you have LingQed 104 words. Perhaps you are learning German :wink:


Thanks a lot for the helpful reply! I’m actually B2 in German (I probably should’ve mentioned that) - all my LingQs are from over a year ago when I quickly tried out the program (which I plan on using extensively for French in the future). I asked my question on this forum mainly because of the high amount of like-minded individuals who wouldn’t criticize writing as “too academic”. At any rate, I do have a couple penpals already whom I write from time to time, and I’ll be making a point to pen essays or maybe try my hand at writing pretend-responses to topics in the news… We’ll see how it goes!

I’m so glad to have been of help :wink:

I’m interested to hear that you are B2 in German, at that level, you can write about hot topics such as the four bloody attacks in what has been a traumatic week for Germany. Following the terrorist attack in Nice where 84 died, there were an additional four incidents in Germany in a space of seven days, taking the lives of 10 people and injuring another 60. These events took place just last week, in Würzburg, Munich, Ansbach and Reutlingen.

They have been referred to as Die Woche der Angst.

How you have assessed your level as B2? Just wondering whether you’ve taken or planning on taking an exam at some point, and if so, how are you working towards it?

I am Learning Russian language and my mentor asked me to collect 10 Russian names with their pronounciation everyday. Sounds strange but he told me starting with the names is the best way to practice any language. Till now I have collected 50 Russian name from Russian Baby Names - Russian names, Russian Babies Names, Russian Name with meaning. What I have found Russian names are a bit difficult to pronounce.