Writing in a foreign language… Actually there are different kinds of writing.

write When you think about writing in a foreign language, what springs to mind? Writing essays for class? Writing a short text about a trip you went on or a fun evening you had with friends?

Those are great topics for practising your Vietnamese but to write about them, you usually have to sit down with the sole aim of writing. You have to be focused, think carefully about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. So sometimes you never even get started.

Of course writing texts like that can be extremely beneficial, however these ‘essays’ are not the only forms of writing.

Do you ever send SMS messages to your friends in Vietnamese? Or chat with them on facebook? Or message back and forth with a potential language partner on iTalki*?

All of these are also writing practice, even if you don’t think of them as practice… It’s just chatting to your friends, right?

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Chatting is writing practice. Yay!

Common types of writing

Bearing this in mind, it’s probably much easier than you first thought to get regular practice writing in a foreign language.

Here’s a taste of the different kinds of writing there are.

Formal

  • Writing opinion essays
  • Making an enquiry (eg. to a language school)
  • Sending work emails
  • Writing reports

Informal

  • Writing a diary or telling a story about a trip or film you’ve seen
  • Writing an email to an exchange partner or chatting with them on Facebook/Skype
  • Replying to comments on Lang-8
  • Writing blog articles or how-to’s

Very informal

  • Replying to an email from a close friend
  • Writing a status update on facebook
  • Commenting on a friend’s facebook status
  • Sending a SMS to a friend

Chances are, even if you think you don’t like writing in a foreign language, you actually do one or more of these on a regular basis.

Develop your skills

Each different style of writing requires a different tone, level of formality and often different vocabulary.

No matter what language you do it in, writing a cover letter when applying for a job is totally different to messaging a friend.

So mix it up.

  • If you only write about your day or a holiday, have a go at comparing the food or weather in Vietnam to that in your country.
  • If you usually just send messages to friends, try to write the occasional longer essay or story.

By varying your practice, you’ll develop the ability to use Vietnamese in a wide variety of situations.

Over to you: Do you do more writing in a foreign language than you first thought? What styles of writing do you practice most often?

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  1. Jay

    Hola! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally
    got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from
    Austin Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

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