Welcome to this blog’s Dear Abby column, Israeli-style. For those of you familiar unfamiliar with Dear Abby columns, people with unfortunate nicknames send in their problems and Abby solves them. Since we’re in Israel, we’re calling our version “Dear Malka”.
Our first question comes from a reader in Herzeliya.
I own a small business and want to export my product to customers abroad. But, I am concerned because my written English is very poor. I can speak fine, but I want my email communication to be better so that the customers think I am professional. How do I improve my writing?
Please understand that most people are understanding of when a non-native English speaker makes writing mistakes. However, you are correct in that your customers will have an easier time understanding you if you write clearly. The business world is very competitive and you need to stay ahead of the competition. Here are a few options for you:
1. Take a class or get a tutor – it might cost you a bunch o’shekels, but weekly or bi-weekly lessons are the slow-but-steady way to improve your writing. A native English speaker can teach you grammar fundamentals that lead to long-term results. It is an investment worth considering.
2. Read the newspaper in English – or a book, or a blog (how about this one?). The more you read, the more you internalize the way people write English. You’ll also learn useful phrases that can literally be copy-pasted. The cost is free to minimal, but the tradeoff is that you won’t learn the ‘method to the madness’, you’ll just learn the madness. The madness, of course, being English.
3. Hire someone else to do it – if all you need is someone to edit the emails you’ve written, there are tons of native English speakers in this neck of the woods. Don’t trust just anybody? Hire me. I’ll do it.
Best of luck, Ephraim! Let us know how it goes.