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Overcoming Intimidation Over English Skills in Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of December 2005 Writing Content 0 Comments

 Wp-Content Uploads GaylaThe next tip in the b5media’s 12 Days of Christmas is from Gayla Baer – one of b5’s celebrity bloggers at Celebamour. She’s got 7 blogs (last time I counted) is a stay at home/work at home mom (twin 12 year old boys) and writes also at Single-Again. Her topic is something I’ve actually helped a few bloggers with myself – the fear of blogging when your English skills are lacking. Here’s what Gayla has to say:

The one tip I’d like to submit and hope that many will listen is to forget those fears. I’ve found that so many people are intimidated by their lack of ‘proper English’ skills and let that stand in their way. Rather than allowing it to be a hindrance, they could even turn it into a niche. I’ve seen a few blogs that play on those faults rather than allow them to detour them from fulfilling a dream of writing.

Regardless of a persons education level, I believe everyone has an opinion that’s valuable or a story to share that others would be interested in. It doesn’t take the fame behind those on Pajamas Media to mean their views are valuable.

If they can’t overcome that fear, I recommend creating their entries in a word processing program so they can do spell and grammar check. It may not be 100% full proof, but at least it will ease the intimidating factors enough to open doors for possibility and to never be afraid to ask for help!

I’m helping a girl now who has struggled with her writing skills and let them keep her from writing and blogging. We’ve finally gotten her to the point where she’s ready to take the chance and she’s off to a flying start.

Darren here again – I thought I’d kick off the comments on this one here by saying I think Gayla is onto something that should be talked about more. I am often approached by new or potential bloggers who are very very nervous about their English skills but who wish to write in English. Sometimes their concerns come out of the fact that English is their 2nd language and other times they’ve just struggled with it through the years (like I struggle with arithmetic).

While I have written here from time to time about making your blog as professional as possible and working on issues of spelling and grammar I would advise someone who struggles in this area to not let it stop them. In fact I know of a couple of different bloggers that I’ve encouraged to blog to help them improve their language skills.

While from time to time they do get a hard time about it I think the exercise of blogging in and of itself both gives them new skills and practice in their language but also gives them confidence to have a voice in ways they may never have discovered in other mediums.

I also think the rest of us who sometimes get picky about grammar sometimes need to loosen up a bit and rather than getting too condemning need to remind ourselves that others come at blogging from different backgrounds and perspectives. Anyway – that’s just my two cents worth – nice post Gayla – sorry for hijacking it, didn’t mean to write this much but you triggered something.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. George says: 12/18/2005 at 3:46 pm

    I agree. The english language shouldn’t be a factor in not blogging.

  2. Writing is all about letting people see what is going on inside your heart – deep down where your dreams and aspirations quietly bubble and brew and so your writing should have personality – a bite – a passion.

    To hell with being politically correct and maintaining a nice civility – if your soul is full of vanilla crap then you’re a poor excuse for a human being. Let that inner person who dwells behind the face in the mirror come out and express themselves and fight for what is right!

    At the same time spelling and good grammar is important but it never stopped the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Henry Lawson or Banjo Patterson from speaking out in the langauge of the common man when the need arose.

  3. Thanks for the nice post. I’m one of those having problems with proper English since it’s not our mother tongue. It sometimes a big burden for me to post something because I need more time to reread and correct mistakes before publishing it. And I sometimes lost my confidence in writing therefore, making my blog postless for quite some time. I heard alot of complaints about blogs with bad grammar and stuff and it worries me sometimes.

  4. I couldn’t agree more.

    Writing in my 2nd language in kind of challenging in the beginning. But I’d learnt a lot. The most important thing is about getting the point across. You can achieve this through writing and graphical illustrations; and I appended both of these things together when I’m writing.

    I blogged about this but it seems it didn’t ping this entry at Problogger.

  5. I used to be insecure about my writing (because of various mean college professors). But through blogging, I’ve regained my confidence and found tremendous satisfaction in writing. Way to go, Gayla and Darren, for encouraging new and old bloggers alike!

  6. non-English speaker says: 12/18/2005 at 11:47 pm

    English is not my mother tongue too. Though I do think I am OK, I’m still not as comfortable with English as I want to be. So I just started blogging about my English. Everyday I would learn something new (grammar, slang, etc) and post about it.

    It helped me learn, and by openly acknowledging my weakness, it removed all fears within me.

    And now that people knew English is only my second language, they were really sympathetic and encouraging. People commented on my posts with encouraging words, tips about the “lesson of the day” and how to improve my English and sound like a native speaker, etc. One guy even blogged about me. That really really encouraged me (I’m a newbie as far as blogging is concerned, so it was a BIG deal for me that someone actually blogged about li’l ol’ ME).

    Slowly I lost interest though, as other projects came up. Pity. But others can do the same thing. I know it really helped me.

    I think I will start the blog again. It was not only nice, it really helped my English. And it may help others too, as people learn with me. And we can all help each other learn.

    Nice post Darren, and thanks for bringing this up. Just thought I’d share my own experience here.

  7. English isn’t my mother tongue. I must admit that blogging has in fact helped me a lot—both by making me search for words and use the dictionary more and by allowing me to cruise through other blogs and look at how native speakers write in their own language. I can’t even describe how much I’ve improved in the past year, compared to the textx I used to write before.

    I understand how it can be very impressive at first, especially with the amount of people outside here who’ll jump at once at any tiny grammar mistake (I don’t think it happens that much in blogs in general, but when a post is controversial, or on forums, for instance, I’ve often seen people dismiss a whole argument with a “start learning to write properly before daring to present opinions”, which, is, let’s be honest, completely lame). This said, if we don’t do it, we’ll never manage it, right? We can’t improve if not fighting our fears of not writing well and running away from the actual process. The same goes for writing in general, which is a matter dear to my heart: sure, my first novel is crap, but if I refuse to practice because it’s not perfect and doesn’t deserve to be ‘dirtied’ with incorrect language, I’ll never write anything.

    At the same time, I think it’s in fact often easy to tell whether a person is a native speaker or not: the kind of mistakes they make give them away, so to say, and are very different from net/l33t speak or any other kind of “I don’t care about writing well” attitude. Among other things, there are circumstances in which I can tell that a blogger has a French-speaking background, because of a sentence that is a direct translation of one of our local expressions, etc. Also, announcing from the start that English isn’t our mother tongue can avoid many problems later on; people will tend to be less picky, and more helpful when it comes to correct the mistakes.

  8. I have a more or less similar problem, I have a blog in english (my second language) and I would like to start a new blog about travel in my native tongue in french. But, my french is not that good even if it is my native tongue, add to that , the fact that french people prefer comment on the writing skill instead of the topic….

  9. I think that successful communication should be the focus, rather than spelling and grammar (though, needless to say, they’re related). Kudos to non-native English writers who are taking the challenge of writing in a language that may not come very easily to them. In my experience, it’s more the *native* English speakers who write unintelligibly. I can make sense of so-called “broken” English, especially if I know off the bat that the writer’s first language isn’t English. But it’s the run-on sentences, absent punctuation, and disappointing vocabulary of some native English writers that ends up confusing me and driving me away. I run into writing like this not only on blogs, which are blogs I don’t read twice, but in comments and email as well, which I can’t avoid.

    It’s not the “improper” use of language that bugs me — I’m certainly a fan of mangling the rules myself. It’s that the writing fails to communicate the writer’s thoughts, and I’m left to respond to them.

    What I really wish is that writers would spend a little more time *re*-reading what they’ve written before they post or send it, and that they would do so with an attempt to put themselves in their readers’ shoes.

    (All that said, I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning, so I apologize if all that was unintelligible!)

  10. English as a second language shouldn’t be a problem if you are really passionate about what you write about and if you are ready to put in the effort to get things right. I write for a blog that is close to being ranked #200 in Technorati, yet I’m pretty much self-taught as far as English goes. If I can do it, anybody can.

  11. I am not a native English speaker either. However, I try to overcome my grammar and spelling problems by providing good content. I don’t think my readers care much about grammar and spelling as long as they understand how to complete my tutorials. Of course, I don’t think I could ever start a blog like this one (problogger) since good writting skills is essential in this type of blogs.

  12. The suggestion of using a word processor is excellent. With the ease of most blogging software, it can be easy to just get in there and zip off something without checking it for spelling and grammar. And, while this doesn’t seem to be in the same flow as the other comments I’m reading, I have to say I think this is important in any kind of writing. Sure, we all make mistakes even with spell checkers (sometimes *because* of them ;) but if you want to be taken seriously as a writer/blogger, then I think you need to take your writing/blogging seriously, and that means (again IMO) doing your best to write correctly as well as affectively.

  13. non-English speaker says: 12/19/2005 at 2:55 pm

    “but if you want to be taken seriously as a writer/blogger, then I think you need to take your writing/blogging seriously, and that means (again IMO) doing your best to write correctly as well as affectively”

    You mean “effectively” ;-)


  14. Oh, and use blog clients instead of crappy word processors :)

  15. Interesting to see that many bloggers who are not native speakers – like myself – turn to English to reach their readers. As a German, I could also write in German, but, then, living and working in an English-speaking country (Philippines) and targeting English-speakers, one should use their tongue. Also: blooging is a good experience and will help you brush up your writing skills. Posts are short and crisp and much easier to do than long essays or newspaper articles.

  16. Wow, I hadn’t been over here in a few days. I guess my own intimidation lead me to think that my “tip” wasn’t worthy enough to make it. I’m very glad to see that others understand my positioning on the whole “proper english” perspective.

    I’m more likely to “connect” with the blogger that makes the honest mistakes, is more consumed by communication and sharing their own opinion than I am the one who is consumed by perfection.

    Kind of like walking into a home that makes you feel welcomed and comfortable rather than feeling afraid to touch anything.

    Guess I’ll always be a country gal at heart.

    Thanks for sharing this topic Darren. Hope you’re enjoying your holiday!

  17. the hardest part for me was getting the first sentence out, after that it keeps pouring out. I didn’t get too bent out of shape about using correct english though.

  18. Hi all,

    I searched on the net the other day (the term: “earn money online”) which returned to this website. The content pulled me in and I have kept reading for a couple of days.

    I wonder what makes this problogger.net is THE result of the above search. The original content and the raves seem to be the reasons.

    Thanks for the posts, Darren.

    Btw… I am also a non-native speaker who is learning how to write everyday.
    Tough to learn a language indeed. However, I think we can do it, if we are willing to learn it, day by day.

  19. I am a full time blogger, English is not my native language. However, I started my blog with English because I wish to improve my English skill. I think blogging in English helped me. I am able to read, listen and write faster now. Most of my blog visitors do not mind my grammar mistakes, but some of them laugh at me. For the reason, I hired a proofreader for my blog.

  20. E.suresh says: 01/09/2006 at 5:39 pm

    Please tell me good tips to improvre my spaeking english skill

  21. find someone you may talk freely to in english, preferably with someone who corrects your mistake.

    Watch TV / radio news, learn the intonation/ common expression
    Do either one, if you can’t do both.

    the beginning will be tough.

    things will smooth out, as practice makes perfect.


    hope it helps


    (I am a non-english speaking person, who learnt english not so long ago.)

  22. Greetings All;

    This is my second entry today in Problogger, my first one was in turning-your-weakness-into-strength-and-threats-into-opportunites blog.
    I have turned the title into just want it said. This has been done with great suppot from the centre manager and department managers, for a company that approximatly 4000 staff.
    With only a grade 9 ed. I applied for a cashier/supervisor position and was awarded the position. In the 3 years that I have been with the company, advancement has been there for me. Now I do help in hiring,data entry,teaching different program that are required by the company.
    This one opened my eyes alot more. So I know it can be done.
    This has taught me more how to handle many types of difficult people.


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