ESL Writing Tip: Always Proofread | Teaching English Writing

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Do you want to know the biggest mistake people make when writing? Then keep on reading.

And, the good news is that it’s quite easy to fix!

The Biggest Mistake You can Make for ESL Writing

Not proofreading your writing is the biggest mistake you can make for ESL writing. This applies to students who are studying English as a second or third language, as well as native speakers.

Almost everyone makes a lot of very simple mistakes, especially when writing quickly. When you read your work again, you’ll likely notice at least a few errors. You can correct them, and even this simple thing will make your writing easier to read and you will likely score a higher grade on an essay, or test.

Give Yourself Time to Proofread

After you write, ALWAYS allow yourself some time to read your work. This applies to an email you might send to your professor or for work, a blog post that you’re writing (like this one!), or something you’re writing for a test. Here’s one example of what I’d do, if I had a limited amount of time when doing an ESL writing test.

If you’re doing a writing test that is one hour long, I recommend the following.

1-Hour Essay Style Exam for ESL Writing

5 minutes planning. Write a few notes. Make a plan. What is your first, second, and third main point? What are one or two supporting ideas that you will use?
45-50 minutes writing.
5-10 minutes proofreading. Check your writing for any mistakes. I recommend double-spacing if you’re using pen and paper, so it’s easy to make any changes if you need to. Cross off what you wrote and then write in the line above it. This is much quicker and easier than using white-out, waiting for it to dry, etc.

One Simple Tip for English Writing

Reading out loud is a good habit to get into. Read slowly, each and every single word. Pay close attention to things like subject-verb agreement (He is, She goes), spelling, capital letters, punctuation, etc.

If you do only one thing to improve your English writing, it’s this! ALWAYS proofread. Always! This tip applies to writing in your first language as well. Native speakers make simple mistakes all the time too.

Here’s a proofreading checklist I made for my university students in South Korea. I think you’ll find it useful too:

Need more ESL Writing Tips?


If you need more tips for ESL writing, then you’ll need to check out: 71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners.

This English writing tip about proofreading is from that book. If you found it useful, there are 70 more ways to practice ESL writing just like it!

Practical, fun, easy to understand tips that will help improve your English writing. You can use the book whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced level student.

The key is to consistently practice your English writing, and this book will help you do that! There are so many ways to practice your writing that it will be easy to stay motivated and keep practicing.

You can get the book in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office and use it a reference tool. Or, take it with you on your phone and tablet for some inspiration while commuting.

Are you ready to improve your ESL writing skills? Click the link below to get the book on Amazon:

—>71 Ways to Practice English Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners<—

Learn More about Proofreading your Writing

Check out this short video below for more tips on how to do it:

What do you Think About Proofreading?

Do you always make time for it? Or, do you sometimes neglect it? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other English learners, like yourself find this useful resource.

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