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.

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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.
    Baiba

    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.

      Like

  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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