“I started with zero knowledge. I only know how to write since I studied English as a second language.”
Does that sound like you?
If you want to improve your writing as a non-native English-speaking writer, give me 15 minutes and I’ll show you how to break the myth.
Like you, I am also from a non-English-speaking country. Fortunately, the Philippines considers English as a second language. Though it may look like I have an advantage, it isn’t the case.
I struggled, yet, I pursued, and succeeded. Today, I’ll teach you how to leverage your content writing using the simplest methods that even the native speakers find my content irresistible.
Here’s one of the few people, a native English-speaking blogger, told me:
“That was an absolutely tremendous read. Nothing short of outstanding. You certainly have a knack for connecting with your readers. I’m telling—keep writing like that and you will go a long way—a very long way.
I wish I had your gift!
I’m telling you—you WILL write a blockbuster of a best seller. It’s in you. It’s up to you to bring out that masterpiece and share it with the world,” Derek Marshall, a friend, fellow affiliate member, and blogger.
If you want them to applaud your content, listen to my advice. Stay in this post and I’ll show you exactly how I did it and apply it to your content.
With me is a fellow blogger, Ossama Alnuwaiser, who will help me explain how he began his blogging journey as a non-native English-speaking writer. He’s from Saudi Arabia and went to the US to pursue his studies.
Without any background, he only learned the English language when he enrolled at California State University ESL Institute.
As time passed by, he became proficient and well-oriented, especially in written form after constant exposure to works from his native English-speaking colleagues.
Does his profile sound similar to you? If yes, take a look at how he managed to get the writing confidence even if he’s a non-native English-speaking traveler and blogger.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into this. Shall we?
Non-Natives VS Native: Who’s The Better Writer?
Here’s the myth.
Native English speakers write better than non-natives. I assumed you have thought about that, too. I did back then.
When I began my writing career, I was inside a “room” filled with native English speaking writers and it’s quite overwhelming. Though it was a virtual room as most website companies do to manage people, I felt the intensity of the competition.
Yet, with the help of my writing discipline, I managed to get out of that “room” with confidence. Similarly, Alnuwaiser experienced the same when he began his content writing not too long ago.
He explained that though English wasn’t his mother language, he learned it and became fluent in various school writing activities i.e. essays and research papers.
Albeit the obvious disadvantage, it didn’t stop him from starting his own site. His oozing passion to help others to do low-cost travels pushed him to write pieces of content. “I had to do it on my own,” he said and explained the daunting feeling most new bloggers feel.
Now, the question is, “Will it be enough?”
Will the tips be enough to improve and compete with the native English speaking writers?
I’m aware that you are less confident with your writing skills. And I’m pretty sure you’re bothered whether your content—no matter how epic it is—qualifies what we call Standard Written English.
This reason stops you, too, from promoting your site and its contents to others because you’re afraid of what they might say.
If you’re in that situation, H.G. Callaway from Temple University has something to say about it to shed a light on this myth.
He explained via ResearchGate that someone’s fluency in the English language doesn’t correlate whether it’s a native- or a non-native-English speaking writer. Rather, the levels of competency become its measurement. Especially for writers like you.
Callaway detailed the 3 areas in which fluency is determined according to competency levels.
- Fluency at the level of general education
- Fluency in the subject-language at the level of a college graduate
- Fluency in the specialized language at the level of a final degree i.e. Ph.D.
Where do you think you belong? Regardless of the level, your English proficiency doesn’t affect the weight of the message. It simply improves the aesthetics of the content.
Even if you’re at the level of general education, it doesn’t mean you can’t write epic content that competes with those writers with a final degree. Do you get me?
How Can A Non-Native English Writer Write Better?
“A great content for me is the one that provides the most valuable information for my audience. Providing value is the key to success for every blog,” Alnuwaiser told me during the interview months ago.
So, how can you provide value if you can’t even communicate better and with clarity?
The key important factor here is the manner of delivery as I mentioned before. And that doesn’t matter if you’re a native- or non-native English speaking writer, my friend.
Does this give you hope? If yes, here’s what you can do. These are some of the areas you need to focus on as a jumpstart.
1. Read a lot. I mean, a lot!
I mean a lot of pieces of content written by a native English-speaking writer. Improve your vocabulary as much as you can.
Alnuwaiser shared that he read tons of blogs related to his travel niche to learn how things work. After reading success stories, he decided to pursue his desire to write and share his passion for traveling.
“My dream has always been to travel the world. For a long time, I had never had the guts to do it. After coming back from the US to visit my family back home, I had time to think… A few days before the [coronavirus] quarantine starter, I was building my website,” he said.
While you’re trying to find the perfect niche that suits you, spare time for your reading time, too.
2. Take note of the common writing mistakes.
Take them seriously and make sure you avoid those in your content. According to most editors who have worked with non-native English-speaking writers, they noticed the use of the articles as the most noticeable mistakes. The use of “a”, “an”, and “the.”
My first editor who worked with me back in 2014 also thought the same thing. She told me about how my manner of writing reflects my mother language influenced by the Spanish language.
I couldn’t remember the article and its publisher, however, I could recall the statement in which it emphasized the non-native’s habit of “missing an article to where it should be, but placing it on where it shouldn’t be.”
My first editor explained that she couldn’t blame it as the English language varies depending on the writer’s mother tongue. In my case, the Philippine language is heavily rooted in Spanish as we’re under their colony for 333 years.
To improve, I read a lot of articles online and books (both printed and digital), as well as taking notes on words shown from the video captions. I did everything I can to sponge all the unfamiliar phrases and applied in my writing.
Nonetheless, it’s still important for us, non-native English writers, to take note of this menial mistake. By knowing these things, it transforms our content from amateurish to worth-reading piece.
Are you getting my point?
3. Write as you speak.
Let’s admit it. No matter how far you can go to impersonate someone, you can never be that person. Are you getting me?
Just be yourself, my friend. This is your blog. It’s a platform about you and your interest that your audience follows.
If you can’t resist but to improve your writing, you can read my separate post about it. It’s about content writing and steps to optimize it.
4. Improve the human connection.
I mean this is between you and your readers. Even if English isn’t your first language, it doesn’t mean you can’t connect with others.
With the help of your vocabulary and familiarity with how the native speakers write, you can do the same impact.
5. Keep it simple.
When I did my research about this topic, I came across an article from the BBC which said that the “native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators.” That surprised me.
According to the article, native English speakers tend to be less aware of the variations of the language depending on the person’s mother language. Thus, non-native English speakers, who studied the language per se, make it an advantage to write better than the native speakers.
As Chia Suan Chong, a UK-based communications skills and intercultural trainer, puts it: everyone understands each other’s English but as soon as the Americans and the Brits come in, “nobody could understand them.”
The reason is this. Our unfamiliarity with the slangs and other “colloquial” terms makes us speak the language, both in written and verbal form, simpler and direct to the point. No fluffs.
This is why you don’t have to feel discouraged if you can’t write the same way as the native English speakers do. As I mentioned earlier, just be yourself. Write the content as if you’re speaking to your audience.
The simpler the words you use to convey the message, the better.
Conclusion – Now What?
It’s your turn.
Improve your writing by utilizing the resources available around you. For Alnuwaiser, he’s fortunate enough to have stepped into the American soil and learned the English language first hand.
However, not all of us have this opportunity, including me.
Given the situation, the only way you can do today is to take your notebook and jot down unfamiliar phrases or words used by native English-speaking writers.
When you are already comfortable writing with an intent to share the content with the native speakers, you’re going to unlock the key for great opportunities.
Because you know what, Google likes epic content. Your clients, audience, and loyal fans love high-quality posts.
Alnuwaiser emphasized that by writing epic content, not only your site benefits from Google, but you’re leveraging your authority in the niche.
“Epic content makes your readers read more,” he told me during the interview. “If we master it, it is the greatest gift we can give to our readers.”
Are you willing to take action? Are you still holding yourself back, my friend? It’s time to show what you’ve got and; share your thoughts with the world.
If yes is your answer, get your FREE ebook and get back to work.
Be determined to improve. I promise you, you’re going to reap abundance later on. Trust me. 😉
About Ossama Alnuwaiser
He is the man behind a great traveling blog AwesomeTraveler.online. Originally from Saudi Arabia, he traveled to the US to pursue his studies. He enrolled at the California State University ESL Institute to learn the English language. Find his latest update on his website, his Facebook group, and Instagram.
If you like this post, feel free to share it with your friends and family, especially those who are struggling to pursue their writing career or those who are about to start a blog.
If you want to share your thoughts with me, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. I’ll be happy to read them. 🙂