Get Adobe Flash player

2.521 NEW – Writing foundation for total beginners – 750 words April 2014



A key skill foreign language learners desire and often need is writing.  Blog 2.521 addresses this requirement from the perspective of a total beginner.


To start with, we will consider three of the key basic principles which ensure that the engagement with writing is optimized from the very onset and leads to success.


At the end of this short article, we will present one exercise which matches these three fundamentals and helps any linguist to progress or actually take off at a reasonably fast speed and with limited difficulty.


Principle 1: timing of the first writing session


When you decide to learn how to write, it is critical that you can already communicate the basics through speaking.


If you attempt to write too early, it may appear easier that an oral exchange but quickly becomes self-defeating to the learning process.


This unfortunate state of affair happens to be embedded in the make-up of the mind as discussed in the chapter on learning obstacles introduced in blog 1.1.


In summary, if you use your visual memory too early whilst learning a foreign language, ‘the eyes’ take over and make it virtually impossible for you to remember the sounds of words.  If you want to learn another language and put all the chances on your side, the auditory competence needs to remain in the driving seat at all times.


For now suffice to understand that the timing of your effort is critical to success. Therefore, make sure that you can truly communicate and exchange on several basic topics before you launch into the writing process.  


Principle 2:  stick to basics


This second key is crucial too. The complexity of the competence that you are about to embark upon is high. To enhance your success rate, you need to ensure that you remain at all times within your field of spoken understanding. The words and constructions that you target and select for writing purpose need to flow from it and be built upon the vocabulary that you have already used in conversations. This ensures that your writing effort supports and sustains your communication in the real world of engaging with native speakers. This, in turn renders writing reasonably easy and accessible.


Principle 3: develop sentences about your real life


The third element in this process is to make sure that you connect personally with what you write especially if it is only… one sentence. The subject that you choose needs to be immediately usable and re-usable in real life.


This requirement is especially true for complete beginners. The more this aspect is respected the easier you memorize. For learning to be quick and effective, the mind calls for emotional engagement and repetition. Both are present when the theme is ‘real’ and called for regularly and even repetitively in the student’s life.


Now here is the exercise:


Let’s go through a basic and very simple exercise; for your first sentence, pick a completely basic structure in your target language. Write two words of your choice as follows. Then, rewrite them and add one more element… and again… and again.


For example:


1/ ‘I visit’


Then rewrite it and add one more element…


2/ ‘I visit Paris’


And one more…


3/ ‘I visit Paris regularly’


And one more…


4/ ‘ Do I visit Paris regularly?’


And one more…


5/ ‘ Why do I visit Paris regularly?’


In this example, you move from a basic two-word set to writing a question. This crucial competence is the subject of blog 4.1


Evolving from basic words to writing complex structures calls for regular input and familiarity.  Following and respecting the key recommendation of rewriting each time the previous level of the sentence as you complete it allows the mind to understand how each word or block fits together in the structure. Once you repeat over and over again this exercise, the internal logic of the sentence becomes clear to you, dawns on you.  


Through repetition, memory in your target language starts to improve and becomes more resilient. In effect, words stick longer in your mind and so does their order.


Once you reach a higher level, this activity becomes obsolete and you need to replace it with a more complex one.  Such exercises will be published at a later date.


In the meantime, if you come across material that you would like the author to comment on or if you have a question or request related to this material please contact

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *