A global team of content creators

For global organizations, it’s nothing new for content writers to be spread out across the globe. And it’s also common for many people in those content teams to be writing in English — although it might not be their native language. 

For those of us that are monolinguistic it’s difficult to imagine creating content in a second language. But for others at global enterprises it’s an everyday task. 

With linguistic quirks and ambiguities galore, the English language can trip up even the most knowledgeable native speakers. So when it comes to writing in English as a second language (ESL) we have five helpful tips for how to create awesome content — for those that have graduated from being an English student and are a seasoned professional at an enterprise.

But first, what’s ESL?
ESL stands for English as a second language. Whether you’ve taken an ESL class, learned English in college, or just been a general student of English as a non-native speaker, learning and speaking ESL applies to you. 

Now let’s dive into some tips for writing in the English language for content professionals!

1. Be clear about what you want to write about

Speaking a language is very different from writing in it. This is the case for native speakers, let alone those who speak English as a second language. So one of the main priorities for writing is to be clear and concise.

Know what you are going to write about, plan it out, and think about how you want to structure it. Once you have a clear picture of the idea or messages you want to convey it makes it easier to achieve your desired results. 

This is also an opportunity to think about how scannable your enterprise content is. Scannability is when your content is clear and easy to understand no matter who’s reading it. It focuses on concise paragraph messaging, streamlines complex sentences, and makes use of lists and tables to easily convey ideas. Learn more about the benefits of scannability in enterprise writing here

2. Brush up on your grammar tips 

Learning grammar might not be that exciting, so sometimes it can be easy to forget. Like with any other foreign languages, learning ESL presents unique grammatical challenges: ranging from knowing when to use a semicolon or colon to understanding what the Oxford comma is. And, sometimes, even content professionals need an occasional reminder about some of those trickier rules. 

If you’re writing content for an enterprise, it needs to be grammatically sound. Here’s a list of some blogs that cover quick explanations and examples of common grammatical blunders:

Fancy a deeper dive? Grammar can be divisive. It splits camps into the haves and have-nots, and leaves some feeling like a deeper understanding is out of reach. But the right resources can level the playing field. Our Grammar Guide for Busy People is a resource you’ll return to time and time again and one that covers a lot of bases. 

3. Be guided by a content style guide 

Many organizations follow academic style guides, but enterprises should follow their own personalized content style guide. A set of company guidelines that explain and demonstrate how content should be created, whether it’s in English or other languages. 

Enterprise content should be unique and represent your brand personality. A content style guide is how you manifest these company-specific guidelines and make them available to writers. As a non-native writer, a content style guide should be a helpful reference point for when you want to know which guidelines your company follows.

For example, vocabulary can vary, and certain words and phrases can mean different things in different places. Think about the word “pants.” In British English it means underwear, but in American English it means trousers. And it’s no surprise that some non-native speakers find this confusing. So a content style guide should help you understand and standardize the best approach to take when writing content. 

If you want to learn more about the types of guidelines a content style guide should include and how to scale them at an enterprise, make sure to download our guide.

4. Don’t forget the tone of voice!

Everyone uses a tone of voice. Not all English speakers sound the same, to tell you the truth, tone of voice can change drastically among English-speaking countries and their regions. No doubt, your organization will strive to define and maintain its own brand tone of voice (how your brand sounds when it’s speaking), but this can be challenging to implement in your writing. 

There are 12 main elements of tone in the English language that all ESL speakers should know about. Some of them include:

  • Word and sentence length
  • Pronouns and contractions
  • Emotive language and colloquialisms 

So no matter what piece of enterprise content you’re creating, make sure to inject it with the relevant tone of voice — especially one that your target audience understands. For a step-by-step process on how to turn brand values into tone and define your enterprise tone of voice, download the second edition of our Watch Your Tone! eBook. 

5. Use a content impact software

There’s no doubt that learning English in class or living in an English-speaking country is the best way to hone your ESL skills. But at times, being guided by helpful technology can keep you on track. 

AI- and NLP-powered content impact software can help ESL speakers create content that’s correct in terms of spelling and grammar, guided by enterprise content guidelines, and using their brand tone of voice. Some also offer guidance on inclusive language, scannability, and clarity. 

Does it sound too good to be true? Well it’s not. It’s time to meet the Acrolinx Platform. 

How Acrolinx helps non-native English speakers

The Acrolinx Platform is an enterprise-wide content impact software that provides actionable guidance in real time as writers create content, on everything ranging from grammar and spelling to brand terminology and inclusive language. Although Acrolinx won’t be teaching English directly, it will flag you on difficult grammar rules and highlight any overlooked errors — like a trusted companion that will protect you from poorly crafted content. 

Helpful for both native and ESL speakers alike, Acrolinx helps reduce revision and editing cycles and gives time back to professional writers to focus more on creation. Interested in how Acrolinx can help your enterprise? Let’s talk.