6 Tips to Writing Your First Essay in a Foreign Language

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Learning a foreign language is always a challenge for our determination, perseverance, dedication, and ability to overcome difficulties. However, to speak on simple topics, to read simple texts is one thing, but it is a completely different task to write an essay in a foreign language. Learning a second language implies the ability to cope with different types of tasks, and you should be prepared for it.

Well, do not think that the first attempt will be the easiest, but you still need to start somewhere. In this article, we have collected recommendations on how to make your first experience of writing an essay in a foreign language less stressful, and as a result, inspire you with the confidence that you can cope with this task at a decent level.

Find Information in Your Own Language

To begin with, let’s agree not to complicate our lives. After all, you need a result, not suffering during the process. Therefore, when you made a decision with a topic ( or your professor did it instead of you), it’s time to start immersion in the subject.

Even if you need to write a job in a foreign language, no one limits you in finding the right material. Therefore, our first advice is to find research papers, scientific articles, and books on the topic in your own language. It will be much easier to understand the essence, formulate your thoughts and come up with an original thesis.

Supplement It with Sources in a Foreign Language

Even if you understand the essence of the problem with the help of the information in your own language, you still have to write in a foreign one and refer to a foreign study.

Therefore, it’s time to start the second stage of information retrieval. Understanding the main aspects of your topic, it will be much easier for you to find the right sources in a foreign language and catch the main arguments of various researchers that you can use to reinforce your thesis.

Make a Plan (You Can Also Do It in Your Native Language)

The plan is the skeleton of all your work. Now you need to make a plan. Begin by describing the standard structure of three parts — the introduction, the main part, and the conclusion.

“A proper plan is 50% of the success of the composition. If you forget about something important at this stage, it is very unlikely that you will remember it at the writing stage. So, do not lower the value of your work due to incompetent planning”, says Marie Fincher, the contributing writer of Studicus and GrabMyEssay.

Next, jot down your basic thoughts under each of the parts in your own language, and also select the sources and quotes that you will use to argue in each of the paragraphs.

Start Writing

Well, here we will talk about the most important part. Remember, we agreed not to complicate our lives and focus on the result. Therefore, if you feel that it is very difficult for you to start expressing your thoughts in writing immediately in a foreign language, write down everything you think in your native language.

After that, make sure that your text is structured, logical, and one statement is a reasonable continuation of the previous one. Definitely, it will be easy for you to build a seamless flow of thoughts with the help of words that you know from birth. Do not forget to support your thoughts with quotes that we have already chosen in the previous step.

When you have already prepared the text in your native language, it’s time to turn it into a foreign one. And please do not use Google Translator! This is really a smart algorithm that learns at the expense of users, but it’s just a program anyway. It does not feel the subtleties of the language, does not know the stable expressions, and does not offer specific linguistic constructions. But you have the power to realize it all in your composition. Those who know the language perfectly can use Google to recall an accidentally forgotten word, but it is by no means suitable for translating entire texts.

Therefore, read the first sentence of your essay in your native language and think about how you would express this idea in a foreign language, taking into account the vocabulary that you have. Record your result and continue in the same way with each subsequent sentence. If you do not know the translation of a word, without which the sentence in a foreign language will not be complete, use the dictionary (not Google!). Work through each sentence of your essay until the entire text is adapted in a foreign language.

Check for Stylistic, Lexical, and Grammatical Errors

Read your essay out loud and try to feel – do all the sentences sound like they should sound in a foreign language? Do you have the sensation of literal translation without regard to style? If not, then let’s check further.

As for lexicological errors, think again whether you have chosen the right words. If you have doubts about how a particular word fits into the context, use the explanatory dictionary to compare synonyms and select the most appropriate option.

As for grammatical errors, use the delights of technological progress, namely the Grammarly. extension. In most cases, the application offers the correct spelling of the words, but be careful, as assumptions can sometimes be wrong. The fact is that Grammarly recognizes the structure of sentences, but does not recognize the context. The extension also cleverly suggests missing punctuation, but still, do not forget that this is an algorithm. In any case, in the end, your work will be checked by a professor (and every teacher may have a personal opinion).

Check for Plagiarism

If you wrote your own essay yourself, then most likely this stage will be just a formality that your professor requires you to comply with. Check again whether you wrote down the quotes correctly, indicated the author and the year of writing the study or the book after the quotation was completed. Look again at the formatting styles rules – APA, MLA, and Chicago to make sure you have done everything correctly.

Most likely, plagiarism checker will point you to borrowed quotes, claiming that it is plagiarism, but if you formalize them correctly in your work with an indication of the author, this will not be considered content theft.


The first experience of writing an essay in a foreign language is really difficult. We have tried to facilitate your task as much as possible. In any case, it is possible to develop any skill if you constantly practice it. We’re sure that you’ll be able do it faster and better with dedication and practice!

Diana Nadim is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Diana also runs her own 3to5Marketing blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.