DO READING FOR BETTER WRITING, here please friends!

Hi everyone,
I have created this new thread for you to share experiences in reading for better essays. I realized that some of us, including me, have been having trouble with writing because of lack of doing reading. Everyone please come here and tell how you have been doing your reading. I believe that we can lots from each other.
Many thanks,

TOEFL listening lectures: A university lecture by a professor of Anthropology

Oh, ok, you first, Teacher. Help us, please. ^^

Yes, Teacher. Thank you.
And I believe that do much reading is not all, because everyone here is trying to follow your advice. More importantly, I think, is what we should read and how to read, I want to put more emphasis on the efficiency. I hope that those who are good at writing will offer lots of useful advice.

As my mentor, Kitosdad, said we should read in order to improve our writing skill. Everything is good for making your writing better. However, because many people in this forum want to take TOEFL exam, and they do not have much time to study for it, it stands to reason that you choose materials which are better for you.

In the first place, it is better to study other members’ essays and their revisions which has been carried out by sir, Kitos. I think learning English is a process which involves a group work. You can learn from other people very easily in this forum. Other people’s mistakes are the things that you should learn. Sometimes, people state their feeling in a special way, but you state the same feelings in another way. By reading other’s sentences you will become equipped with more ways to express your thoughts and feelings. For example, I myself learned a lot of things by reading Leenda’s essays. I used to write some of her sentences, expressions and collocations on a piece of paper.

Second, you should try to study things which are not very complicated as to grammar and topic. I think the essays on this forum have this characteristics. You know, you should read something that is interesting for you. For example, if you are interested in politic, read political materials. This is because you can imagine what the author says, then you are more likely to use his sentences and collocations in your essays.

Third, I think it is a good idea to listen to speakers who speak very clearly and simply. For example, Obama’s speech have this feature. He speaks with passion and word by word. His speech shows how Americans speak formally. In addition, for the TOEFL you are supposed to speak and write formally. So, listening to them can improve your speaking and writing skills.

Fourth, write about different topics. This is because of the experience that I had at this forum. I realized that I am good at writing about specific topics, but I have some weaknesses in writing about some other topics. So, write a lot and write about different topics.

Finally, review your previous mistakes and try not to repeat them.

By the way, some people are so weak at structure that they must study a grammar book.

Hi, everybody! Sharing experiences is really good idea, Richard! I wrote my first essay a few days ago. I didn’t even know the structure. We write essays very often in our university, but toefl essay structure is different.I learned the structure and wrote an essay. My result was 8.5/10. I think it’s not too bad for the first try. But I will improve it. I think this topic can be very useful for us.

Thank you Mohammad and Siranoush. I couldn’t agree with you more.
1, There are some of the best writers in our forum, I list below. We can find all their old post to read,not only read their essays for the time being( just some of them, so if anyone finds another good writers, please tell us here)

  • Mohammad64
    …and so forth. ^^

Yes, me too. I still set time aside for reading. Taking note, I think, is very useful for us. Write down every expression, nice word which you consider it helpful for your essays, spend at least 15 minutes per day to review it.( The point is, I keep this habit everyday, but I haven’t made any improvement +___+. However,if I keep reading, at least, I am more confident in writing. :slight_smile: )
3, I came across this site : and find it extremely helpful. The expression is clear, concise, while words used are generally simple and quite understandable. Especially, it comprises of many category : art and entertainment, family life, and so on, which suit you well. Cast a look at it, see if it can do any good for you. I hope so
4, Is there anyone want to read our Kitosdad’s stories ^^ … e=kitosdad
( Sorry T.Kitos, I have publicized without your permission ^^. Anyway, you have no choice, I have already did it ^^)
Many thanks,

Hi to everyone, guys!

Tell the truth, I don’t know if you can get a big benefit from reading in order to write better. For example, I adore reading all kinds of books in english. Two years ago i just stopped reading books and watching movies in my native languadge and I get used to it, but I cant say that I write my essays well, so may be it has helped me, may be its not and im just a stupid girl :slight_smile: Indeed, from american serials, such as “How I met your mother”, you can learn lots of phrases and words, but it’s not that kinds of words you can use in your essays :stuck_out_tongue: In this way, channel “Discovery” is for you :slight_smile:

I know that it is good to read “Scientific American” coz there are many “smart” words, like that ones which you can find in reading section. But sure, you should use your vocabulary in order to get the idea.

What is more, in writing section im trying to stick to some good phrases which you can use in different topics. May be it is not interesting to read for Teacher Kitos, but in this section you have only 30 min, so if you have a structure in your minds , you will safe a lot of time.

All in all, i think that practise is the best way for writing.


Thanks a lot, Kate. We appreciate your contribution.
Is there anyone who pick up new vocabulary through song lyrics? ^^
See :

In the Circle of Life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle, the Circle of Life

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars

There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps the great and small on the endless round
( Circle of life - Lion king )
I think these songs are very meaningful with nice words. Many songs by Michael Jackson, Miley Cirus or ‘What’ s friend are for’, ‘you got a friend’, and those in Lion King.
Hope it of some help.


thanks Richard for listing me as a good writer (although I personally think I’m not that good).
To tell you the truth, I’m currently doing my internship so I don’t have a lot of free time. However, (it’s a little embarrassing) I usually read and listen to daily news at at work, and I think it’s very helpful. One of the reason is that this site provides us many articles in various categories. Also, they include both audio files and scripts with their news (we could take advantage of this to improve our reading skills :slight_smile: ) and they even offer the special English program for English learners. In fact, they speak quite slow in compared with the real TOEFL test but it’s a good one for beginners.

Sometimes I listen to bbc and cnn too. I enjoy watching their videos there. Those site speak very quickly. You may find it difficult to keep up with but once you get used to it, I think the TOEFL will be a little too slow for you :slight_smile:

And of course, it will be my mistake not to mention our favorite site . As Mohammad said, I suggest we should read essays of other users, practice writing (remember, practice makes perfect). Although I prefer writing about topic which I’m interested in, I practice writing other topics too (despite the fact that this kind of writing is more boring than usual)

Hope it would help :slight_smile:

Thanks Richard, I think this topic is very useful ^^
Ah, Mohammad, thanks. I learned a lot from the war between you and Leena :smiley: I like your sense of humor :slight_smile:

LOL! “Billie Jean is not my lover. She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one…” Good start :slight_smile:

Yes. Its really cool advice.
And also people can learn by heart some poetry.

Good idea, Kate!

Guess, how young is he? oh, our Teacher ^^ LOL

how romantic :x arg, Kitos rocks! xD

I think that doing what Kitos says is the most important advice …
and also from my personal experience … we need to write about topics, which we dont like, since on my exam independent topic was not good for me :slight_smile: … i strongly recommend this

From my own experience, I think a very good way to prepare for the writing part of TOELF or IELTS is to reading the good essays of other writers. I often learn the good phrases, see how the writers develop their ideas and apply them to my essays.
Another important thing is that we should try to write under pressure of time before taking any exams, which I’m currently not very good at.
I also reading from many sources such as novels, journals and watch programs on National Geographic channel or Discovery channel. When I read or listen, I always try to remember good words or phrases. And one last thing, beside writing about exams’topic, I also write diary or anything that appears in my mind in English, which I belive will make our experiences writing English more enjoyable.
These are the methods I take when I practice writing English, I hope they will help. And thank you Richard, I think this topic is really useful :smiley:

When I brainstorm for some clueless topics, I would like to google some related articles. And I find them very helpful in both ideas and expressions, even though sometimes those articles are not about the exact topic I’m going to write.
For example, once I was going to write a topic discussing whether or not advertising targeted children aged 2 to 5 should be banned, I read an essay about how advertisment works. The viewponts and some vocabularies in the essay really helped a lot.

Thanks for the invitation, Richard. I think it is a great idea to share experience and approaches!!

I wrote my very first essay in english about 3 weeks ago. At the beginning I was very afraid and did not know how to write things like this at all. I learned to write essay in following steps:

  • first, I found the list of TOEFL writing topics. (i.e.

  • I found out that there was a specific structure. Here is a very clear and understandable article I read on this (on the left in the box Beginning there are other articles on how to deal with thesis statement, introduction, body, topic sentences, etc., other boxes are also quite useful)

  • I started to practice:

First, I looked at the question and thought about it. I would write down any ideas I had on a piece of paper. I did not write an essay, I only brainstormed on it and compared my ideas to what other people wrote (I worked out about 15 topics like this).

Second, I looked at the question and wrote an essay using structure tips from the article I mentioned above. No time limit. It took me about 3 hours to write my first essay.

Third, I started to manage time. Lately I use timer and time limits Jozeph ( recommends.

Not that long ago I found his article on Independent writing Very useful!

I also review carefully Mr. Kitos remarks. I found out that I do same mistakes almost all the time. Maybe that’s what you do as well. Then review carefully and pay attention next time you write.

I also recommend to write on topics you don’t like. What I’m going to do is to look through all the topics (, pick up those that seem the most unfamiliar to me (like these about the government, should it do this or that, they freak me out. how do I know??) and think of some reasons.

I hope it was useful for you guys.

What they want us to do is not to write but to think quickly. The hardest thing for me is to think of reasons. I spent 1/3 of time on this. I can hardly understand how to develop this skill. Have you got any ideas?

I think reading other students’ essays is not enough. You have to read essays written by native speakers, in particular professional writers. Reading essays that have strong points and smart using of language will not only help you in writing TOEFL/IELTS essays; it’ll also help you to go further in the world of English language.

Doing research is very important in terms of writing. I always google and search relevant information when writing an essay. No one can be a good writer just by writing what is only in his/her mind. Your main idea comes from you, but you’ll have to search for examples and supporting ideas. That is what people called “gathering information” which is an important process in writing (both creative and essays).

Dictionary is important too. In English language there’re thousands of words that no human can remember them all. So you’ll have to use dictionaries to aid you and make your writing shine.

Last, learn literature. Learn how to use simile, metaphor and other techniques. And to learn literature, one has to read as much as possible. Classic works, modern bestsellers, critical praised books etc… Of course, you can succeed on those English tests without learning literature. But it’s a great help if you want to improve your writing skill, if you want your essays or writing pieces be more persuasive and vivid.

I recommend publications such as New York Times, Scientific America(as Kate said), The New Yorker, Times. There’re many others, but these can provide you abundance of good essays and articles that make sense. You can also read them for free by visiting their sites.
For classic essays I recommend ones written by Bacon, Doctor King, and Woolf. … ESSAYS.htm
As for books, there are many! Just read what you are interested in. For me I’m reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. And a tip: reading critically will help you read better, understand the writing better and writer better.

Thank you everyone. You are really of great great help. Many thanks :slight_smile: