Second language writing refers to writing that is completed by a non-native writer and speaker of a language, such as Spanish, who must write in another language, such as English. The written language used in second language writing is not the native tongue of the writer. Being somewhat less familiar with the second language may make it harder for the writer to put together correct and easily understood sentences and paragraphs. Even if someone has studied a second language for several years, becoming proficient at writing it well can remain a challenge.
There are different categories of people who may need to use second language writing. Business professionals living in foreign countries, students whose parents have emigrated, and university students attending college in a foreign country may all need to learn to write in a second language. They also may need to learn to speak it and be able to use it socially and professionally in a fairly short amount of time. This can be challenging but also can be an advantage, because companies often want to hire people who are bilingual.
Just as there are difficulties in learning how to speak a foreign or second language fluently, there also are many challenges and common problems in second language writing. People who are writing in a second language may experience problems with verb tense, word choice, sentence structure and figures of speech. People trying to write in a second language or to translate from the second language to their native language also may find it difficult to understand nuances such as colloquialisms, slang, nonstandard usage and technical jargon.
There are various strategies to help people learn to write in a second language. Elementary and secondary school students often have the opportunity to learn from teachers who can help them learn to read, write and speak in their second language. University students attending school in a foreign country might have to work with a tutor to improve their skills quickly. Many universities around the world also offer programs to help these students acquire their second language.
Business professionals in new countries might have professional development opportunities offered through their companies. If not, they still will likely be able to take college courses to help them with second language writing. Immersion in the language, writing and culture is a strategy that proves successful with many people in the situation of having to learn to speak and write in a second language.