Upgrading my writing skills

img_20151002_082919The other day I was reading somebody’s blog post when I realized that there are certain words I never use when I write. The word that first caught my attention was whereby. I went over to my blog and used the search button to see if I had ever used this vocabulary item in any of my posts. At that point, my blog turned into a little corpus for a while.

My suspicion was confirmed – no hits whatsoever. So I started playing with some other words for the sake of comparison. As it turned out, I have my favorites and there are words which I know but constantly avoid using.

Why is it so? Well, to be honest, I often catch myself circumventing expressions I’m not absolutely sure about. Obviously, coming up with an alternative is just a safe way out but doesn’t result in much learning.

So, I’m up to a little experiment. From now on I’m going to have a list of words I wish to incorporate into my writing always near my laptop. These items will be anything interesting I come across while reading stuff – single words, collocations, or grammatical structures. I know all too well that just jotting something down into a notepad and staring at it won’t necessarily enrich my writing. So I will only allow myself to cross a word off of the list once I’ve actually used it.

If this strategy works for me, I’ll recommend it to my students as well.

About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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5 Responses to Upgrading my writing skills

  1. Baiba Svenca says:

    Hi Hana,
    We may be using the same textbooks if I am not mistaken. Is it Solutions? Ha ha, and I have exactly the same attitude to words, I love some and avoid using others. Now and then I pick up a phrase or a word, write it down on a scrap of paper, put it in a well-seen spot… and never use any of them because they have not come to me naturally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Yes, Baiba, it’s Maturita Solutions Pre-Intermediate. 🙂 I like your point about never actually using words you learned. Maybe we should accept the fact that there are words we’ll never really need to use in our context. Although I write almost every day, my topics usually revolve around the same theme – teaching – so it’s difficult to step out of the box and suddenly start using some rare words. It would be odd. But I’m sure there are lots of words I use too much so maybe I could try to substitute these. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Adi Rajan says:

    But in your defense, ‘whereby’ is a bit dated and pompous sounding. What are the words you’d like to use but don’t use at all? You might want to check out Make your Point – a email subscription based vocabulary builder that reacquaints the subscriber to words they might not remember. Here’s ‘pecadillo’ (http://www.hilotutor.com/archives_peccadillo.html?) which I’ve never used in my writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hana Tichá says:

      Pompous sounding…hmmm.. well, that’s another aspect of a word one should be familiar with. Anyway, I’ve just subscribed for Make your Point and it looks interesting. Thanks for the tip, Adi, I’m adding it to my favorites. I searched the archives and I must say that there are lots of words I’ve never seen before. By the way, *peccadillo* is a word I can remember easily because I’m familiar with *impeccable*, which is derived from the same root.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ven_vve says:

    Hi there,
    How’s this working out for you? I’m curious and also wondering if it’s a strategy I can recommend to my students.
    Turns out I actually do have one whereby on my blog – Adi’s comment made me smile. 🙂
    All the best in 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

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