IGCSE French/Spanish: 5: Word perfect; how to increase your levels of accuracy in writing.


In blog 5 of our French and Spanish blog, an Oxford Open Learning tutor gives advice on making your writing more accurate.

IGCSE French/Spanish: 5: Word perfect; how to increase your levels of accuracy in writing.

This is a tricky one, and students often think that it is simply a matter of natural ability, as some people are just more naturally accurate than others, even when writing in English. This is true of course, but it doesn’t mean that accuracy can’t be learnt, as it is often as much about practice and application as innate talent.

As I touched upon in the conjugation blog, it is a very different thing to produce accurate written work from the comfort of your own study desk with all your reference materials to hand, to doing it in exam conditions or ‘for real’. So how do you achieve the latter? The same way as you achieve high standards in anything: practise, practise, practise – as only practice makes perfect!

  • It is important to take time when you write, and of course to check each word for spelling/accents etc. as you write it. This is not fail-safe however, as you will be so focused on the content and structure of what you are writing that you may not notice little errors that you make (and we ALL do!) along the way….
  • So… always leave time to check your writing at the end. This might mean as soon as you have placed the last full stop at the end of the last sentence, or after you have checked through the rest of your work. Or both! If time allows the most effective way to check accuracy in writing is to do it several times over and to come back to the passage after a time away from it. Clearly this method is not always possible in an exam but should be used in assignment work as you can learn a lot by spotting and correcting your own mistakes.
  • How to check for accuracy?… and what to check?…
  1. Spellings – check against a vocabulary list (if not in exam conditions) or say the word out loud, this may help to see whether the spelling is correct – particularly in Spanish, which is a phonetic language.
  2. Gender (masculine or feminine) – it is important that you learn this when learning your vocabulary at the outset as getting this wrong could mean you also spell the subsequent adjectives etc. wrongly.
  3. Plural – do you need to change the spelling of your word to make it plural?
  4. Adjective – check the position of it (before or after the noun?) and the spelling (have you used the correct version (masculine/feminine/plural etc.)).
  5. Punctuation and capital letters. Make sure you know the rules for these in the language. Watch out for those upside down exclamation İ and question marks ¿ in Spanish!
  6. Accents – take time to learn the accent rules, this is essential for accuracy.
  7. Verbs and Tenses – see previous blog “Conquering Conjugation.”
  8. Missing words – re-read each sentence to check it makes sense and that you haven’t missed a word out. If it helps, read it back to yourself in ENGLISH to check this.
  9. Word order – remember the difference between French/Spanish word order and that of English (e.g. most adjectives come after the noun not before).
  10. Prepositions – have you used the right one (of/in/at/on etc.) Can be tricky!

Good Luck!

Chloe Bullock

Tutor

To find out more about studying French or Spanish visit the Oxford Open Learning website, or contact a Student Adviser for more details.

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