Improving Proficiency in Writing Skills for Undergraduate Students

Article Posted in: Research Articles

by – Dr K. John Wesly
published in December 2017, Vol. III, Issue. XXXV



Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. In most languages, writing is a compliment to speech or spoken language. Writing is not a language but a tool developed by human society. Writing makes a full man. It needs listening skills, reading skills, imagination skills, language command, observation skills, presentation skills, etc. it is a skill because it needs a lot of effort. It should be learnt from gurus, or by one’s own efforts. Sometimes writing comes with a great inspiration. While writing the writer should imagine something in his own mother tongue, translate it into English, select appropriate words, tenses and maintain coherence. One should write in such a way that it should make the reader read it. The writer should have humorous nature. Generally people like facts, truths and anything relevant.

Keywords: Writing, skill, development of language, English, etc.



During the last decade, the sudden rise in the strength of colleges in India is the evidence of the significance that this profession demands seriousness today. The profession demands the qualitative students with the quantity of the knowledge skills acquired in the core branch of engineering which in turn is needed to apply the theory in practice. Unfortunately, quite a large number of students are unsuccessful in job interviews because of poor communication skills in English which have become the major setback even though the percentage of the marks they secured at their graduation level is satisfactory. Therefore the command over English language communication skills plays a crucial role in every student’s professional career that leads him/her either to the successful or unsuccessful in their career.


English is acknowledged as a necessary language to enable every community to involve in global communication; it is taught even from kindergarten. The students must be able to understand all skills in English. According to Brown (2004: 218), writing is a skill that is the exclusive domain of scribes and scholars in educational or religious institutions. As the basis of learning those skills, the role structure and vocabulary are very crucial. Writing is important as teaching speaking, reading, and listening because the learners can express their ideas, feelings, and experiences in certain place, time, and situation in written form. Therefore, writing skill needs to be taught to the student. Even as Zemach and Rumisek (2005: 54), reiterates that the teaching of writing is important because of the reasons: “the first reason is writing reinforces the grammatical structure, idiom and vocabulary that teacher has been working within the class. The second reason is when the student writes, she or he has a chance to be adventurous with the language. Finally, the student becomes involved with the language, with himself or herself and with his or her readers.”


However, most language learners realize the learning to write fluently and expressively are difficult. It is because writing needs simultaneous control of numeric variables. This argument is supported by Zemach and Islam (2004: 12 ), that there are some aspects included in writing such as control of content, rules of syntax, format sentence, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and spelling.

English has created better understanding and harmony of relations among the nations of the world. It has provided worldwide chances for employment. English is rightly described as a window on the rapid progress of technology and scientific knowledge that is constantly taking place in the world. It is also described as a pipeline for the stream of knowledge in all branches of learning. It is also a window through which one can see the scientific-technological, agricultural, commercial and educational developments and recent changes in the world.

English is the key to the storehouse of knowledge, even though many are giving much emphasis on the regional languages; English has its own prominence in every walk of life. It plays a significant role in bringing togetherness among national leaders from various regions of the country. It also plays a significant role in increasing the employment opportunities around the globe. Due to rapid technological progress in the world, English has acquired great importance in all the developing countries in the world. It provides access to information with which individuals can learn and develop in all the areas of knowledge. It builds economical, technological and educational links within countries. It has also become a common language to share ideas and views to create amicable relations among people of various countries. It enables the people to explore the cultural difference and to create a kind of understanding links among the different cultures.


Today due to the high speed of the science and technological inventions and developments the world is considered to be a global village. As India is competing with the other countries in terms of education and many other aspects, it is obligatory for every Indian professional to acquire the knowledge of communication through English language in order to meet the global standards as the English language is the medium of communication in many developed countries. In the year 1935 Macaulay published his minutes on education in it he remarks that:


“the claims of our own language, it is hardly necessary to recapitulate …….. it stands pre-eminent even among the languages of the west….we must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” (qtd in mishra: 2009)


It is also considered as a universal language. In view of academics, most of the universities worldwide include English as one of their major subjects. English is the first and foremost criteria whether it is an application for a job or seeking admission in a reputed college/university/institution. Recruiters of eminent companies are giving high priority to candidates who are good at English and have the relevant qualification and skill set as well. However, candidates who are having the relevant qualification and without having proper knowledge of English language are being rejected which is an indicator of the importance of English language. The English language is the official language of India. It is the main language accepted and spoken in the field of business and education across all the places in India. India is ranked the third largest country which has English speaking population in the world besides the United States and the United Kingdom. Lots of new writers and journalists are fast emerging from all parts of the country. English writing has blossomed in India and has reached a peak where Indian writers have won Booker Prize and other awards for their works on English.

The main goal of English language teaching is to enable the learner to communicate effectively with native and non-native speakers in English. Teaching English language in India has undergone many transitions because of the success and failure of various methodologies in the second language classroom. Recently it is said that a good number of universities are offering courses to train the teachers in English language teaching. Majority of the English teachers in India lack proper training in the latest methods evolved in teaching the student. Teacher training programs are limited to government school teachers and private school teachers are deprived of these opportunities as the management of the schools are in worry towards the expenses. Even though training facilities are adequate to the government school English teachers they struggle with the lack of instructional resources and facilities for teaching and learning process is a stumbling block in language. Due to this, there is an over-dependence of prescribe course books which lead disinterest in English classroom. The English classrooms in India are crowded with students from varied educational, economic, behavioural and social backgrounds. The number of students in the classroom is large which is a great hindrance to providing the adequate teaching and training facilities on four skills of language. This situation prevails everywhere in India except in corporate schools and colleges. As an evaluation of the student performance is based on the written texts, a large number of the students depends upon the guidebooks, thereby killing the interest of the students to participate lively in the classrooms. English is taught and learnt an academic subject rather than as a skill to be practised and developed.


English is a second language to most of the Indian students. And also the second language is any language acquired after the native language. The term second language implies that the language is probably not spoken in the home and may contain a linguistic base that is syntactical, phonetically, semantically and theoretically distinct from the native, spoken language. English is quite different from the languages and dialects that exist in India. In India, there are English medium and regional medium schools. In most of the regional medium schools managed by the state government, English is introduced as a second language very late. Most of the English medium schools are managed by private management. Very few number of parents whether literates or illiterates prefer to take admission of their children in English medium schools. As the instructional and training facilities are comparatively better than government schools, also the results are better in private schools and colleges. Most of the universities in India follow English as a medium of instruction at undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses.


The English language has brought to us many advantages at international level. It comes to our aid in our commercial transactions throughout the globe. English is the latest language of the business management in the world and Indian proficiency in English has brought laurels to many businessmen. English is a means of not only for international commerce; but also an increasingly necessary language for inter-state communication. In India people who move from north to south and vice versa for education for the English has become a link language. Keeping this in mind the Indian Parliament has also recognized English as an official language in addition to Hindi. Some states in India are witnessing a popular increase in demand in teaching the English language from primary classes. There is a great demand for English medium schools across India with the awareness of English language. Many leaders who denounce English send their children to English medium schools. Many schools in India have their medium of teaching in English only. The English language attracts people because of its rich wealth of literature and knowledge enshrined around it. The English language helps us to understand different cultures, political structures, historical and economies better. It is a language which acts as a window to the world. We also use English to promote our worldview and spiritual heritage throughout the globe. For this, we have the example of Swami Vivekananda who showed Indian greatness in the conference held in Chicago in 1893. He addressed the gathering in impressive English. Many spiritual gurus have since converted thousands of English people to our spirituality by expressing their thought and ideas in masterful and flowery English. English has become thus an effective tool for promoting Indian view of life and thereby strengthening our cultural identity in the world.

Communication is an important facet of life. Communication skills are essential in all spheres of life. Be it an interview or dealing with the project leader or working out a solution with a team or writing a report, getting across the point effectively is what matters. The success of an endeavour hinges on the ability to communicate effectively in today’s fast-paced life, everyone is asked to do more with less. In such a scenario effective communication holds the key. Effectively communication centres around the usage of words, speed of delivery of words, pitch modulation and body language. Using the right tools to communicate the right messages at the right time can salvage a crisis and motivate people to work towards success. Truly said, communication works but for those who work at it. In the existing globalization scenario, most of the Information Technology, I.T Enabled Services, management institutes, public and private sector, multi-national Companies, Union Public Service Commission, and State Public Service commissions are a search for a right and suitable fresher for executive posts. Whatever be the recruiting criteria that I.T, ITES, industry giants had in their agenda, once this was clearly a first-class degree would not serve the purpose, the candidate has to satisfy the skill sets that the companies were looking for. And unanimously, the skills set that they were looking for communication skills.

Communication is for development of the individual organization, society, nation, country. Communications help the administration in arriving quick decision and implementation. Good communication is essential for proper planning and coordination. Effective communication has a special roleplay, particularly in an underdeveloped country like India where most of the workers are illiterate. A Manager’s/Executive’s success is conditioned by his ability to understand the needs and requirements of both employees and customers. Effective and timely communication promotes cordial relations and works culture among the employees for increasing production and creates a healthy and happy environment within and outside the organization.

Some students write well, but they are not able to express themselves orally. Some speak fluently, but cannot write without grammatical errors. Some are comfortable speaking among themselves in a small group but are not comfortable facing the audience. Some having problems with their body language and use inappropriate with others, some find it difficult to maintain eye contact. Some are always misunderstood.


Communication Skills

To be successful, a person requires an integrated pack of communication skills. These skills comprise of writing skills, speech skills, listening skills, non-verbal skills. One should have communication skills while reading, writing, listening, speaking, conversation with various groups of people, government officials, bankers, family members etc.

Writing Skills

Writing, in other words, is above all for communication for conveying ideas and feelings from one mind to another mind. The hallmarks of good writing are the hallmarks of good communication. They are Accuracy, appropriateness, attentiveness, to your audience, avoiding of ambiguity. Brevity or conciseness, brightness or buoyancy. Correctness, clarity, consistency, concreteness, early morning works well for many. Plan to write three to five notes minimum daily. Shorter sentence pack more power. They are also easier to read and understand. Should be clear, brief content, contextuality, important points to be covered. Use sweet words, simple language, be legible, be clear and be concise and readable. Write and rewrite until you are able to capture the idea in one sentence.

Importance of Writing Skills

Writing skills are an important part of communication.  Good writing skills allow you to communicate your message with clarity and ease to a far larger audience than through face-to-face or telephone conversations. You might be called upon to write a report, plan or strategy at work; write a grant application or press release within a volunteering role; or you may fancy communicating your ideas online via a blog.  And, of course, a well-written CV or résumé with no spelling or grammatical mistakes is essential if you want a new job.

Poor writing skills create poor first impressions and many readers will have an immediate negative reaction if they spot a spelling or grammatical mistake. A spelling mistake on a commercial web page may cause potential customers to doubt the credibility of the website and the organization. Some of the things which you have to keep in mind before you finalize your writing work is: plan your writing, and the various processes and checks to go through before pressing print or broadcasting your message online. It also provides guides for specific pieces of writing that you may need to produce, whether at school, university, or in the workplace. Check for correct grammar, punctuation and spelling which are the key signatures in a written communications.  The reader will form an opinion on you, the author, based on both the content and presentation, and errors are likely to lead them to form a negative impression. If you are unconvinced about the importance of accurate writing, think of the clues, identify spam emails, “phishing” websites, and counterfeit products: poor grammar and spelling. Similarly, some the employers state publicly that any CV or résumé containing spelling or grammatical mistakes will be rejected immediately.

Checking for poor writing and spelling mistakes should be seen as a courtesy to your readers since it can take them much longer to understand the messages in your writing if they have to think and re-read text to decipher these. All written communications should, therefore, be re-read before sending to print, or hitting the send button in the case of emails, as it is likely that there will be errors.  Do not assume that spelling and grammar checkers will identify all mistakes as many incorrect words can indeed be spelt correctly (for example, when “their” is used instead of “there” or “principle” instead of “principal”) or entire words may be missing. If at all possible, take a break before re-reading and checking your writing, as you are more likely to notice problems when you read it fresh. Even if you know spelling and grammar rules, you should still double-check your work or, even better, have it proof-read by somebody else. Our brains work faster than our fingers can type and accidental typographical errors (typos) inevitably creep in.


There are ways to improve writing skills which can be learned like any other. One method is by practice writing on a piece of paper, reading and re-reading again for any possibilities to edit until it comes to a definitive summary. Another trick for checking and improving your work is to read it aloud. Reading text forces you to slow down and pick up problems with the flow that your eye would otherwise skip over. Reading also helps to improve your writing skills by reading aloud as you read you pick up new vocabulary and engage with different writing styles. Grammar, spelling and punctuation, has to be carefully used because it’s important to remember your audience. Always write with your audience in mind, and it can also help to bear in mind the medium in which you plan to publish. This knowledge will help you to decide whether you need to write in a formal style or a more informal one, and will also help you to decide on a suitable structure. There are many times in your life when you will be asked to write something very specific. Whether this is to take notes of a conversation, write the minutes of a formal meeting, or prepare a report, all these types of writing require specific skills, and usually a particular style. Many people would say that the art of letter-writing is dying out. However, there are still many times when you need to put pen (or word processor) to paper.  Being able to write well is a skill which will get you a long way in the workplace, partly because it is fairly rare in many places. One skill that many people lack, especially in management and other professional environments is the ability to write in plain English. That is avoiding unnecessary jargon, industry-specific buzzwords and clichés and keeping sentences short and concise.

Taking the time to polish your writing skills is likely to pay off in the longer term, and learning how to write specific types of documents will also be useful. At one time or another, most of us need to write a job application. Nowadays, job applications usually require a CV or résumé, together with a really strong covering letter. A good LinkedIn profile will also help your application to stand out from the rest, as will managing your online presence effectively. Apart from the workplace, you are most likely to need writing skills as part of a course of study, whether at college or university. You may, for example, need to write essays, a report, a research proposal or even a dissertation or thesis. These pieces of work are often very long and need careful structuring and writing.

Technical skills may still be king, but students are finding that they also need a broad array of the so-called “soft” skills and “communication skills” if they are going to be effective in today’s multidisciplinary teams. A student goes to school to develop their creative genius to design the things that people need, they devote their time studying the necessary maths and science. In fact, many try their best to get through their universities with a few “distractions” as possible and may graduate with only one course in writing. So, it’s not surprising that a challenge to a guest lecturer on good writing would become one of my foremost memories of teaching writing skills to the class. The challenge comes from a student during a project class as the lecturer briefly reviews some grammar and offers some advice that just about everyone hears from English teachers.

Writing is moreover a key to the internal communications networks that most companies especially the large ones, have developed for disseminating technical information throughout the organization efficiently. Students are often expected to report on their work, not only to share with their colleagues but also to add to the corporate memory. Working with a company would have to write a report so others could use my findings Writing skills help prepare presentations both to individual, team and also for larger groups.

Because writing is an important life skill for every professional school and colleges have been looking for ways to ensure that their students have a chance to develop some proficiency in writing. It is better if students take a course in technical writing in lieu of the English course that had been required by the school board, college and university.

Note-Taking Skills

It is important to recognize that taking notes should not distract you from listening intently to what the speaker is saying.  Effective note-taking involves listening whilst jotting down key points that will be important later: in a business meeting this may include action points that you have agreed to attend to; in a lecture, this may include new vocabulary or theories that you can investigate further later.

Before you can take effective notes you need to be somewhat organized.  It may seem obvious but you need to remember to take some appropriate note-taking equipment with you to meetings, lectures etc. The nature of the ‘appropriate’ note-taking equipment will depend partly on you and partly on the circumstances.  The simplest low-tech way of taking notes is to use a pen (or series of different colored pens) and a pad of paper. Bring plenty of paper and at least one spare pen or pencil.

Some people prefer to take notes on a laptop, tablet, smartphone or some other device – this is fine as long as you are very comfortable with the technology – so that they can concentrate fully on their notes – not on the actual process of writing them.  If you are using some form of computer to take notes it is usually a good idea to turn off any messaging services first – otherwise, you are likely to be distracted by new emails, text messages or the like.

Effective note-taking from lectures and readings is an essential skill for university study. Good note taking allows a permanent record for revision and a register of relevant points that you can integrate with your own writing and speaking. Good note taking reduces the risk of plagiarism. It also helps you distinguish where your ideas came from and how you think about those ideas.


  1. Be selective and systematic

As you take notes from a written source, keep in mind that not all of a text may be relevant to your needs. Think about your purpose for reading. Are you reading for a general understanding of a topic or concept? Are you reading for some specific information that may relate to the topic of an assignment? Before you start to take notes, skim the text. Then highlight or mark the main points and any relevant information you may need to take notes from. Finally – keeping in mind your purpose for reading – read the relevant sections of the text carefully and jot down notes separately as you read.


  1. Identify the purpose and function of a text

Whether you need to make notes on a whole text or just part of it, identifying the main purpose and function of a text is invaluable for clarifying your note-taking purposes and saving time. Read the title and the abstract or preface (if there is one) Read the introduction or first paragraph. Skim the text to read topic headings and notice how the text is organized. Read the graphic material and predict its purpose in the text. Your aim is to identify potentially useful information by getting an initial overview of the text (chapter, article, pages) that you have selected to read. Ask yourself: will this text give me the information I require and where might it be located in the text?


  1. Identify how information is organized

Most texts use a range of organizing principles to develop ideas. While most good writing will have a logical order, not all writers will use an organizing principle. Organizing principles tend to sequence information into a logical hierarchy, some of which are: past ideas to present ideas, steps or stages of a process or event, most important point to least important point, well known ideas to least known ideas, simple ideas to complex ideas, general ideas to specific ideas, the largest parts to the smallest parts of something, problems and solutions, causes and results. The mentioned are some points how information is organized.


  1. Include your thoughts

When taking notes for an assignment it is also helpful to record your thoughts at the time. Record your thoughts in a separate column or margin and in a different colour to the notes you took from the text. What ideas did you have about your assignment when you read that information? How do you think you could use this information in your assignment?



Today language is the only way by which one can express their emotions, thoughts, desires ideas, feelings etc. We can argue that someone can use symbols and gestures but, the probability can be minimal. Majority of the people in the world use language as a means of communication either good or for bad. English is that language which is spoken by many people. English is an International language. Whenever we want to know what is happening on the other side of the world, we get the news in English only. The literature around the world was written in many languages and can be understood by those people only, but if it is translated into English without disturbing its charm, many people (90 countries) can enjoy the flavour of literature. English has changed its forms many times- earlier it was old English, then middle English then early English and now modern English. Nowadays English is being used as an official language and now it occupied the whole world and became a global language. So it is very important to know the English language. With the help of above-mentioned strategies, one may improve and improvise their LSRW Skills to any desirable extent that the overall communication skill of a person will be enhanced and enriched. Importance of English language learning has been the need of the hour these days in India and other non-native speaking countries, which is where there lies an importance of guiding the students on the language focusing on LSRW method of learning a language.


Speaking English language is definitely a skill which everyone has to master. Many think that it is a content subject. The four fundamental skills of language are to be learnt and mastered. Like Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.  In the beginning, the teaching of English in India was completely literature oriented in which this literature had western influence. Little attention was paid to linguistic aspects of English. The Indian teachers at school level followed the translation method. Structural or traditional grammar was taught. The above scenario has now changed. Our educationalists have understood the practical importance of language. They have realized that language is more important than literature. So our syllabuses have become language oriented. The major thrust of curriculum-based subject is purely on the development of basic language skills i.e. Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW).





Brown, H. Douglas. 2004. Language Assessment Principles and Classroom Practices. New York: Longman.

Zemach, D. E., & Rumizek, A L. 2005. Academic Writing from Paragraph to Essay. Macmillan Publishers.

Zemach, D. E., & Islam, C. 2004. Paragraph Writing. Macmillan Publishers Limited.

Mishra, R. C. (2009). History of Education Administration. New Delhi: APH Publishing.

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