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Consejos para escribir bien en ingls

Llegar a escribir bien en ingls es tan difcil como llegar a pensar en ingls. Pero
difcil no quiere decir imposible. En este artculo dar algunos consejos para
conseguirlo.
1) Lee mucho en ingls
Escribir bien en ingls requiere olvidarse de las estructuras del espaol que son las
que vienen a la mente cuando nos sentamos delante de un papel en blanco con un
bolgrafo. Por tanto, el primer requisito para escribir bien en ingls es leer. Slo
leyendo mucho ingls con un diccionario al lado, podrs ir sustituyendo en tu
cabeza la sintaxis espaola por la inglesa. Un buen hbito es leer libros que estn
en ambos idiomas y comparar las traducciones. Empieza siempre por textos
sencillos, sino te desmotivars.
Lo qu ocurre en tu mente cuando lees.(en ingls)
Ejemplos de textos bilinges.
Qu leer?
Pginas con textos en diferentes niveles. Muy recomendada!:
http://www.englishclub.com/reading/classic-reading.htm

Un test para comprobar tu nivel de comprensin.


2) Construye oraciones sencillas
Dando clases de ingls he notado que muchas personas cometen el error de
pensar en espaol estructuras muy complejas que luego intentan pasar al ingls
sin conseguirlo. Por ello, recomiendo que expongas tus ideas de la forma ms
sencilla posible siempre con la siguiente estructura:

Sujeto + verbo + objeto

Ejemplo 1: We (sujeto) went (verbo) for a walk on Wednesday (complemento).


Nota: Fjate bien en la estructura :El mircoles fuimos a dar un paseo. Dar un
paseo: to go for a walk. On Wednesday el mircoles.
Ejemplo 2: This book (sujeto) gives (verbo) practical information about grammar
(complemento). Este libro da informacin prctica sobre gramtica.
Ejemplo 3: Nobody (sujeto) knew (verbo) them (complemento). Nadie los conoca.
3. Piensa qu tipo de texto quieres escribir y adapta el vocabulario

Piensa que toda la fuerza comunicadora de un texto proviene del buen uso de las
palabras en el contexto correcto. Por ejemplo:

Si escribes un texto formal debers tener cuidado de no utilizar expresiones


demasiado coloquiales.

Si preparas una presentacin para la empresa debers conocer bien el


vocabulario tcnico que vas a emplear y las expresiones que te servirn de
nexo de unin entre frase y frase.
http://www.sapiensman.com/ESDictionary/

Si preparas un currculum, pide a un nativo que te lo revise antes de


enviarlo. http://www.cvcentre.co.uk/

Si preparas una carta para adjuntar a un currculum (cover letter) debers


saber cmo destacar tus cualidades ms importantes.

Mi consejo: Utiliza cmo gua ejemplos e intenta imitarlos. Elige ingls britnico si
el receptor de tu escrito es britnico o europeo, e ingls americano si es americano
o est familiarizado con este tipo de ingls.
Te dejo algunos enlaces que te servirn para buscar modelos y ejemplos.
Ejemplos ingls britnico.
Ejemplos ingls americano.
Consejos para escribir textos cientficos.
Consejos para escribir currculums y cartas en ingls britnico.
Consejos para escribir currculums (resume) y cartas en ingls americano.
4. Imita, no inventes
Inventar frases en ingls es generalmente muy arriesgado por la alta probabilidad
de que salga contaminada de espaol, por tanto, una buena idea es intentar copiar
las estructuras inglesas para preparar tus propios escritos. Ojo! no hablo de
plagiar, sino de que te sirvan de modelo.
5. Revisa la puntuacin y la ortografa
Hay varias diferencias entre el espaol y el ingls. Te enumero algunas:

Uso de maysculas: Los idiomas y das de la semana se escriben con


maysculas. (En espaol no). Por ejemplo: Escribimos.: I speak English.
(Yo hablo ingls.) I saw him on Thursday. (Le vi el jueves.).

Signos de exclamacin: En ingls usamos slo uno al final de la oracin


(?, !) y en espaol dos, uno al principio y otro al final de la oracin.

En ingls cuando empezamos una carta ponemos por ejemplo: Dear friend,
(seguido de una coma). En espaol utilizamos dos puntos.

Ms sobre gramtica (en ingls y muy til)


Reglas de puntuacin. (en ingls, muy til tambin)
6. Revisa el spelling
Una palabra mal escrita da siempre una mala impresin al receptor, por ello, usa
siempre un diccionario para asegurarte de que no cometes faltas. Ya sabes que el
ingls es particularmente difcil en este punto. Muchas palabras se escriben de
manera diferente segn sea ingls britnico o americano.
Word Reference (el mejor diccionario on-line)
Wikipedia. Diferencias entre el ingls americano y britnico. (texto en ingls)
7. Sigue este truco si tienes dudas
No es infalible pero te sirve de ayuda. Escribe la frase sobre la que tienes dudas
en la barra de google y haz un bsqueda. Si ves que tu frase aparece escrita en
pginas web de nativos ingleses, lo ms probable es que sea correcta. Si no
aparece, busca alternativas (siempre en pginas de nativos). En esta pgina te
ayudan a buscar las frases que quieras poner a prueba.
8. Revisa el texto
Una vez que hayas acabado de escribir, deja pasar un tiempo y vuelve a leerlo
varias veces para comprobar que hay el menor nmero de errores. Utiliza el
sistema de correccin ortogrfica de word o software similar.

How to get the most out of English texts


by Tomasz P. Szynalski

Reading for content


Normally, when reading a text, people use a strategy that I call reading for
content. The goal of this strategy is to get the main idea of the text as quickly as
possible and with as little effort as possible. To accomplish this goal, your brain
will try to read as few words as possible and spend only a fraction of a second on
each word.
For example, when reading the following passage, you dont really see it like
this:
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories
from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act
of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing. In the book it said: Boa
constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to
move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion.

I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work
with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing.
To your brain, it looks more or less like this:
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories
from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act
of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing. In the book it said: Boa
constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to
move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion.

I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work
with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing.
Here are some characteristics of reading for content:

Not seeing grammar words like a, the, in, of, through, that. The eye only stops
at content words (main nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs).

Not seeing word forms: Was it look or looked? Has looked or had looked?

Not noticing the exact spelling. It is well known that the brain recognizes whole
words it does not analyze them letter by letter. Native speakers see the word piece
all the time, but many of them still misspell it as peice, because the two spellings
have similar shapes.

Ignoring difficult words that are not essential to understanding the meaning
(here: primeval, constrictor). Who has the time to use a dictionary?

An extreme example of word blindness is the rather well-known puzzle where


youre asked to count how many times the letter F occurs in the following
passage:

FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED


WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.

Click here for answer:


Reading for content is a great, time-saving way to extract information from
written content. The problem is that you may not need grammar words to
understand a text, but you do need them to produce a text. If you skip over
grammar words while reading, you may have difficulty using them correctly in
your own sentences.
For example, here is a sentence from the opening paragraph of this article. Most
learners (except those who are proficient in English grammar or extremely
observant) will probably find it difficult to fill in the blanks:
To accomplish this goal, your brain will try to read as ___ words as possible and spend
only a fraction of ___ second ___ each word.

The above explains why some learners can read a 300-page book and still have
problems with relatively basic grammar. It also explains why articles and
prepositions are among the hardest aspects of English to learn. The conclusion
for the English learner is that if you want to improve your production (output)
skills, you may have to train yourself to notice grammar words.
Heres an illuminating passage posted by Maya labeille at the Antimoon Forum:
I believe that seeing correct and typical English sentences helps a lot to learn how to
use English properly. It is also important to read and read again every structure that is
new to you, so that you can remember them. If you only read the book without taking
any pause to think carefully about the new sentences, you will hardly remember any
of them.
Ive read all Harry Potter books straight myself, and when I opened them again, I
realised I had viewed loads and loads of useful structures whithout remembering them
which was such a shame! Im reading The Full Monty (Penguin Readers collection)
using the pause and think method at present. Now after a few days of daily reading,
when I take a look at an English text, many structures are familiar to me hey, I
remember reading this one in The Full Monty!.
Therefore, I believe this method is efficient and I would advise it to all learners.

Sometimes, we dont realise how wealthy a single book can be loads to learn
just in one of them.

Pause and think


I agree with Maya about the pause and think method. Heres the process that I
recommend for dealing with sentences in texts:

1.

Stop at interesting (not obvious) things: a new word, how a word was used, a
grammatical structure, a preposition, an article, a conjunction, the order of words,
etc. For example, spend a while to think about the fact that the sentence contains
the preposition at, and not on. Perhaps the sentence uses the present perfect tense
where you would have expected the past simple. Perhaps the word order is different
than in your first language.

2.

If the sentence contains a useful phrase, ask yourself: Could you produce a
similar phrase yourself? Would you use the right tenses, articles and prepositions?
Would you use the right word order? If youre not sure, read the phrase again.
Practice saying it (or a similar phrase) aloud or in your mind. The idea is to program
your brain with it.

3.

If necessary, or if you feel like it, use your dictionary to find definitions of words
in the sentence and get more example sentences. This will help enrich your feel of
the word.

4.

If you use an SRS, consider adding the phrase to your collection (e.g. as a
sentence item) to make sure it will stay in your memory. Of course, only useful
phrases should be added.

Important notes

You dont have to use pause and think all the time. Reading in this mode can
be quite exhausting, so dont do it when youre tired after a long reading session.

Dont try to focus on every phrase.

Some phrases are not useful. Some characters in books and movies use
very colorful, but rare expressions (e.g. This girls family has got you by the short
ones). Novels often contain literary language which is not useful for building your
own sentences (e.g. A matted depression across mustache and beard showed
where a stillsuit tube had marked out its path from nose to catchpockets).

Some phrases are just too advanced for you. Try to focus on things that
are within your reach, i.e. one level above your current level. If youre still
struggling with the present perfect tense, dont waste your attention on sentences
like I dont know what it is that the officer said he had seen me do. (If you keep
seeing advanced sentences, you should probably switch to an easier text.)

The pause and think technique will not always make you remember the exact
way to say something. But perhaps youll remember that this particular type of
sentence is problematic in English. If you remember that, it will at least make you
stop before you write that sentence, and look it up instead of making a careless
mistake.

You dont have to think about why something was phrased in a particular way.
The goal is to focus your attention, not come up with grammar rules. (Though if you
like to think about grammar rules, you can do it.)

If you dont like to stop reading (to look up a word in your dictionary or add a
phrase to an SRS), you can write down all the interesting sentences, or you can
underline them in the book with a pencil. This way, you can handle these sentences
later.

An example
Let me now give you a short demonstration of the pause and think method.
Here are two English sentences and examples of thoughts that you should get
when reading them:

Former President Jimmy Carter will visit Venezuela next week to mediate talks
between the government and its opposition, which have been locked in a power
struggle since a failed coup.

Former President not The former President, so I guess we say President


Carter and not The President Carter, even though we say The President will do
something when we dont mention his name.

to mediate talks not to mediate in the talks or something like that. I


wonder if that would be OK, too...

power struggle I think Ive seen this phrase before.

since a failed coup so I can say Hes been paralyzed since an accident
(preposition use), not only Hes been paralyzed since an accident happened
(conjunction use).

since a failed coup not since the failed coup. The author does not assume
we know about the coup.

coup hey, I know this is pronounced /ku:/!


Jennifer McCoy, of the Atlanta-based Carter Center, told reporters Saturday that Carter
may be able to help break the political deadlock when he visits beginning July 6.

Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center not Jennifer McCoy from the Carter
Center (in Polish I would say from). So wed say John Brown of IBM, for example.

Atlanta-based another way of saying based in Atlanta. Guess I could say


Im a Wroclaw-based webmaster.

told reporters Saturday not on Saturday seems we can skip the on


sometimes. I met her Friday would probably work as well as I met her on Friday.

told that Carter may be able not told that Carter might be able lack of
reported (indirect) speech. And my English teacher taught me to say things like She
said she might stay (not She said she may stay).

to help break the deadlock It looks like help can be used without an object
(it does not say to help Venezuelans break the deadlock), and without to (it does
not say help to break the deadlock). This is different from some other verbs like
force (we cannot say The President will force break the deadlock, we must say The
President will force Venezuelans to break the deadlock.).

when he visits not when he will visit, even though it will be in the future. I
dont think I have ever seen will used in such a sentence.

to visit beginning July 6 interesting structure I would say to visit on July


6, but here beginning replaces on. This may be the first time that Ive seen this
phrase. It may be some sort of news jargon.