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How to Overcome Cultural Differences in ESL Writing

It’s a universal phenomenon to see writing students audibly yawn and groan in the face of a new writing task. Few first language writers fancy the process; it must be a lot more daunting to second language writers. An ESL writer is not only tasked with handling syntax and the craft, but also wrestling to overcome the tentacles of confusing cultural differences.

The writing style is normally a vivid reflection of the writer’s background and character; breaking free to follow strict style guidelines of another language is often challenging. Fortunately, it’s quite possible.

ESL students find writing challenging in different ways, depending on the student’s background. To capture the communication styles of different cultures, it’s needful to analyze the personality of that culture. Take an example of a business meeting with native English speakers. Are there warm greetings with hugs, handshakes, and so on? You will realize that English speakers are generally reserved. They often use short simple sentences; it passes as the writer’s responsibility to embrace this simplicity. All questions need to be answered, while avoiding lengthy paragraphs and complex explanations.

Complexity of prose is found in other languages, such as the romance languages. Like the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese cultures, their writing is similarly fiery and passionate. Most ESL writers hope that winding repetitive explanations would make it more comprehensible; the English reader finds it confusing and irritating. Therefore English writing avoids long, wordy sentences. The semi-colon can greatly help you achieve this goal.

Taking the business meeting example, you will find that the native English speakers will state their points precisely, in short direct statements that seamlessly connect to build the whole concept. Repetition is only sprinkled as vehicle of emphasis. Adverb clauses, participial phrases and prepositional phrases are good snipping tools for superfluous words. By reading out your work aloud, you should know the sentence is too long if you need to breathe by the end of the sentence.

ESL students from the Asian culture also have a notable share of problems. The Japanese, Koreans and Chinese have a typically circular writing, which respects politeness and avoids offense. A writing plan helps organize ideas better. Asian writing features lots of fragments (e.g. Chang went to the scene. Because he wanted to see it) and frequent choppy statements. This is basically because the structure is vertical instead of horizontal. Connectors and transition words easily fixed these problems, reducing choppiness and enhancing smooth link of ideas. Chang went to the scene because he wanted to see it. As Chang wanted to see the scene, he went.

Even though writing is difficult, it remains an essential tool for communication in business and academia. This makes it to you an indispensable craft. Keeping an error log of your common mistakes is a great strategy to learn fast and grasp creative writing.

Creativity frees learners form set rules and allows room for imagination, making a path to gaining confidence. With confidence in your skills, you can do anything including becoming an impressive ESL writer!

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