Living abroad can be an overwhelming and even frightening experience for anyone. You are surrounded by a new culture, new people, new places, and even, most stressful of all, a new language. Being a non-English speaking exchange student in an English-speaking country adds a whole other level of stress due to working on school projects and assignments while also having to cope with your new, temporary home. For those living and studying abroad, taking some essential skills with you to a foreign land will greatly aid you in finishing school work. The most difficult assignment, besides perhaps public speaking, will be writing an essay in English. Here are five easy-to-learn, relevant essay strategies you can master in order to make you a better student, a better essayist, and improve your English writing skills.

Draft and Organize

Writing an essay is a process. Whether the requirement in length is hefty or simply 500 words or less, every essay requires a drafting process. This process include the initial step of writing a rough draft, which is the first attempt at writing the essay, a version of your essay you will continue to revise. However, the drafting process means more than just writing a rough draft; it means laying out the essay and organizing your thoughts. Start by re-writing the topic or question you were assigned. By putting the assignment in new words you will be able to view the topic at a different angle, helping you brainstorm, and then write out all of the points you want your reader to understand. After these items are listed, organize them. You may want to start your essay out with a background or history on the topic and then go into an exploration of the subject or an opinion you may have, either way, organize these points in a logical, chronological way. Drafting and organizing before you begin writing will ensure you have a strong base for your essay.

Have a Thesis

A thesis is a sentence that explains to your reader what the essay is trying to prove or say about a particular topic. Every teacher will look for a thesis in an essay, even if it is not a research or scholarly essay. This essay element shows that your manuscript has a purpose and every point or thought you include should support your thesis. An example of a thesis sentence may be, in this case a literary critique: In the novel, We, the Drowned a main character of the story is the sea itself. This thesis would need the essay that follows to support the stance that the sea is a character in the story by including relevant quotes and paraphrasing from the novel. The bulk of explaining the thesis and proving it to the reader will spread out through the rest of the essay.

Have Topic/Transitional Sentences

Topic sentences may be described as transitional sentences, in either regard these sentences should be present at least once in every paragraph or section on your essay and all should support your thesis. These sentences tell the reader what they are about to read in a new paragraph or the one following by summarizing the main idea of the paragraph in question. Due to the fact that each paragraph acts as a new idea or new focus each time, a topic sentence will keep your reader from being confused or missing what you are trying to explain to them. An easy way to write transitional sentences is to begin with “In this paragraph, we will…” or “Now, I will explain…” or “Following our discussion of the sea in We, the Drowned, let’s look at…” In all those examples, the reader has found the transition of one thought to another in the essay, effortlessly.

Focus on Flow

In the previous paragraph we talked about topic sentences and how they can elevate the quality of your essay by ensuring a lack of confusion, but another favor this does for your writing is it creates “flow”. Flow is a term used by English-speaking students and teachers to explain a sense of fluidity or smooth movement within the essay writing. The term may be used in correlation to a steady-moving stream or river, indicating that an essay with flow is one that is well thought-out, well organized, and has a constant progression. Read your essay aloud as you go along, or ask English-speaking friends if you can read your essay out loud to them before turning it in. Hearing the words out loud will alert you to any odd occurrences in sentences, or disorganization of thoughts. Revise what needs attention and repeat the process of reading it out loud again. This is a great way to focus on flow and to hear rather than see if anything is lacking a natural progression within your essay. Furthermore, if you follow instructions to have a thesis, topic and transitional sentences, the flow of the essay should require little to no revision.

Always Conclude

Never finish an essay without re-introducing your thesis and all the arguments that support it. The conclusion is for reiterating the essay’s points; even summarizing the writing is a good strategy at the essay’s end. An essay without a conclusion appears rushed or sloppy, while an essay with a conclusion shows the reader that the writer took the time to simplify the main ideas of the essay with a concise and thoughtful synopsis. For example, in this article we discussed the difficulties of learning English abroad. As a student abroad, being asked to write a professional essay in a native language can be daunting, but learning these strategies will help you succeed: have a thesis, topic and transitional sentences, pay attention to the flow and always include a conclusion.

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