When I chanced upon Pamela Pan’s article entitled, How to Become a Better Writer in Your Second Language, I thought I was going to learn additional things about writing, being a bilingual writer myself (I speak/write in Filipino and English). And I did. I gobbled up all her useful tips and suggestions which she shared out of her own experiences.
Pamela herself came to the U.S. only when she was 24, having attended college and graduate school in Shanghai before that. Now, she teaches reading, writing and literature in Northern California.
Among her suggested strategies for writers with English as second language to improve their craft are: participate or form a writers’ group, read at least half an hour every day, reread books or passages you like, listen to books, and regard your first language as an asset, not an interference.
Aside from these, there was one particular tip, however, which made a deep impression on me. It was her third suggestion for better writing:
Pause in the middle (of reading a book) and write.
Basically, this entails reading a book (which writers should make a habit of), pausing every few pages, and writing down what you remember (recall) from what you read, even record your reactions or response to it.
What does this reading strategy do? It improves reader comprehension and retention. Pausing and reflecting on what you read increases understanding and memory, as proven by research. Consequently, this helps nurture the habit of transferring ideas from mind to paper. It also helps in organizing one’s thoughts and improving writing skills. In essence, regularly practicing this reading strategy will make one a better writer.
Pamela cited one of her students as a successful example of how beneficial this tip is. Her Spanish student was transformed from being two levels below college to college level in reading and writing because she practised the pause and reflect strategy.
I, for one, am going to use this technique in my present undertaking as an intern at Entangled Publishing, in reading and reviewing other books as well, and of course, in my writing. Thank you, Pamela!