Many bloggers in foreign countries choose to blog in English instead of their mother tongue. I am one of those bloggers. Living in the French part of Canada, I really understand the importance of speaking English. I always knew that I had to blog in this language if I wanted to reach as large an audience as possible. It takes a long time to build a readership and you don’t want to scare away new readers with too many mistakes. Here are a few tips on how to overcome the challenges of blogging in English when it’s not your first language.
1. Inform your readers that English is not your primary language
I am not talking about a huge disclaimer. You just have to write a small sentence about it in the “About me” section of your blog so your readers won’t be surprised if you make the occasional mistake. It will be less frustrating for them if they know that your English is not perfect because you are learning the language rather than because you don’t pay attention to your writing or don’t care about your readers.
2. Use Microsoft Word
Even though most blogging platforms have spell check, this is not enough for someone who doesn’t write the language well. Use Microsoft Word to write your posts. It corrects not only spelling mistakes, but grammar ones as well. You just have to import your text into your blog once you are done.
3. Think in English
The worst thing that you can do is to write your post in your first language and translate it later. Keep your sentences short. Use words that you know and that you are comfortable with.
4. Don’t let frustration get in the way
Frustration will get the best of you at one point or another. It is inevitable. Most of us have some experience writing and feel pretty comfortable with it. But when it comes to writing in a new language, everything changes. Every word is now a struggle and you feel like a 6-year-old trying to write like an adult. When you get frustrated, take a break. Pour yourself a hot cocoa and think about something else.
5. Hire an editor
I am not talking about a professional who will cost you a fortune. Look on Craigslist for a student looking to make an extra buck. Be careful who you choose. You don’t want someone who will make more mistakes that you do. I have been very lucky to find a student from McGill University who edits for a student journal. I email her my important posts – like an article for IFB. She corrects my mistakes and sends it back to me.
Blogging is a lot of work and it’s even more work when the blogger doesn’t speak the language that they are writing in very well. When I get impatient I remind myself of this beautiful quote from the book Eat, Pray, Love: “You must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.” I couldn’t agree more.