A lot of people struggle with writing and speaking in English. Some people write better than they can speak or vice versa. It can seem like a real challenge to improve your language skills, as there are so many rules that it may seem intimidating to understand. However, understanding the differences and similarities between written and spoken English is a key factor in helping one have a more universal understanding of the language and its properties.


If we are talking on an international level, English is very important as it is used officially by many countries as a second or even primary language. Once you have learned a wide skillset within the English language (speaking, listening, reading, and writing), it will be evident that the language is extremely helpful in different areas of life. In this article, we will be discussing the different methods that you can use to improve your written and spoken English.



1. Grammar


Grammar is the one of most important aspects of written and spoken English because it improves the overall quality of how you communicate your English. Some tips to improve grammar are:


  • Always use the correct tense.
  • Remember to use punctuation as it improves the comprehension your writing.
  • Learn the English grammar rules and keep practicing them.
  • Identify your verbs and conjugate forms and how to correctly use them.



2. Vocabulary


Getting to learn new words is really helpful for developing your vocabulary. This does not mean just learning and memorising new words; you need familiarize yourself with several properties of words when accumulating vocabulary, such as:


  • Learning the forms of the word, its roots, as well as the plural forms.
  • The preposition that usually comes with the word.
  • Word transitioning.
  • Appropriate word usage.

The most effective method you can apply to expand your vocabulary is to learn new words within example sentences. Example sentences will give you a first hand experience along with offering context in which the word can be utilized!



3. Reading


When it comes to improving your English skills, reading is one of the most effective tools you can use. Both your level of writing and speaking benefits from large amounts of reading. Here are some reading tips:


  • Read regularly across all forms or channels:
    • Read novels and different literature, newspapers, articles and blog posts.
    • Watch English movies with subtitles; by doing this, you are improving your reading, writing, and listening skills at the same time! Super-Combo!
  • Pay attention to the styles of the written text when reading (every author writes differently, some more subtle difference than others).
  • If you find a passage that you did not understand, read the sentence several times over to understand how the words were used together.



4. Spelling


Some of the important components of written English include spelling and syntax. You must include all proper punctuation, capital letters, and correct spelling for all words. Spelling in the English language can be difficult due to a large number of homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings). Here are some useful tips that you can try:


  • Make flashcards and test yourself.
  • Using Mnemonics can really help improve your spelling.
  • Enter some spelling competitions or online spelling quizzes with friends.
  • Have a notebook for spelling.
  • Do a lot of reading (have you noticed a pattern yet?)



5. Keep writing


You must write a lot in order to improve this skillset; there is no way around this! Crafting essays and other academic pieces of work can help you develop a solid understanding of proper sentence structure. Remember that good pieces of writing do not come from day one but practice (and time) will make things perfect (or nearly so). Be prepared to write several versions of each text because even for professional writers, the first write-up is never perfect. Some useful tips are:


  • Choose an interesting topic and write something about it.
  • If you need help structuring an essay for your academic classwork, you can ask your italki teacher to help look over your essay to give you pointers -- this could be a potential lesson on English rules!
  • You can use online e-learning tools to correct and identify mistakes.
    • Although I would advise not using this straightaway away until you have a good grasp of the grammar rules yourself.
  • Do a lot of online chatting and write to people in complete sentences in order to develop your skills!
  • Avoid abbreviating words (or even online chat words e.g. LOL) and make sure to focus on learning the formal language first. Slang will only confuse your understanding of the language!
  • Write official letters and emails.



Ways To Improve Your Spoken English


Spoken or conversational English is often considered a relaxed version of the language. Spoken English allows you to focus on your own ideas without having to think about punctuation, sentence structure, or flow. The most popular and proven methods you can use to improve your spoken English are as follows:


1. Communicate and interact with English speakers


You have to do a lot of speaking with professional or native speakers to improve your speaking skills. Be confident and speak as often as possible to as many people as you can! Do not be shy when trying to initiate conversation; yes you will make mistakes, but that is the best way to learn! The more time you spend practicing, the better you will become in your pronunciation and the more your vocabulary will grow. If you say that you don’t have time to socialize with so many people, find someone at italki to be your language partner and start conversing in English!


2. Listening


You should spend a lot of time listening to English dialects, especially if the opportunity arises with native speakers. Listen to various things in English that interest you, which could be:


  • Listen to music of all types and sing the songs using the lyrics!
  • Listen to English news and TV programs -- pay attention to how they pronounce their words.


Repeat unfamiliar words when you hear them. If you do not understand their meanings, Google them or try to use contextual clues!


  • Live and work around native speakers. *This, of course, is conditional to your current circumstances.


Daily interaction is the most effective way to improve all parts of your language skills!



3. Speaking clubs


Extracurricular activities, such as attending speaking clubs and participating in debate programs, help to improve speaking confidence and pronunciation. This forces you to use as much vocabulary as you can to get your point across. Furthermore, you are afforded the chance to carefully listen to others over their points of view; and perhaps, you will have the ability to debate against them effectively. It is a very effective method of improving spoken English.


4. Reading clubs


Reading aloud in speaking clubs can help you to familiarize yourself with words and pronunciation, which builds your confidence when speaking to people in public. This is a great way to practice pronunciation because you only need to concentrate on making sure that your English sounds great when reading what others have written (while having the luxury to skip the energy it takes to worry about sentence structure or grammar if you were to write your own piece).



Differences between spoken and written English


There are many differences between written and spoken English. Written English is often considered more formal, whereas spoken English is conversational and more casual. Examples of written English include essays, formal communications for school or business purposes, books, or research findings etc. Examples of spoken English are a conversation between friends or family, or a casual conversation with someone at a park or coffee shop. That is not to say that all written communication has to be formal, but there are more incidences of formal written communication than there are of spoken.





Written and spoken English are both very important means of communicating the language. Both have their pros and cons, and can be used for formal and informal communications. Overall, written English is more associated with formal communication whereas spoken English is used more often for conversational and less formal purposes. There are similarities and differences between the two forms of communication but they both stem from a solid understanding of the English language and its uses.


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Hero image by Seth Doyle (CC0 1.0)