By Steph Vasquez
Once, when I was doing my history homework, I was listening to music in Spanish. At the same time, my mother came over to me to ask me something in Spanish, and I responded her in Spanish, while still doing my notes. When I looked down, I realized that my notes, which had started in English, ended up being written in Spanish. When I tried getting back to doing my notes, my brain froze when I tried getting back into writing in English. Multilingual writing can be a bit difficult, especially when it comes to American English academic writing standards.
If you are like me, you probably can’t do work in silence. I like listening to music when I am doing my work. It keeps me on track, and I feel that it helps me work quicker. However, as I speak multiple languages, I also like to listen to music in multiple languages. This is where things can get tricky. In order to keep myself on track when writing, I have a rule when it comes to music: either the music is in the same language, or the music does not have any lyrics. Instrumental music has been a big help in making sure that I am focused on what I am writing.
Another thing I do is that I speak out loud as I am writing. I look very weird when doing it, but this helps me to stay focused and also make sure that I am following proper writing conventions. Usually, you write the way you speak (but beware of informal language and slang!), so speaking out loud as you are writing will help you to pick up on any awkward phrasing. Microsoft Word has a read loud feature in which it will read out any desired section to you.
My very last tip as a multilingual writer is to go to someone else! If you have been writing a paper for a while, your eyes are going to be very tired, and so will your brain. Have someone, preferably someone who has never seen your paper, read it over and give you feedback on it. A fresh pair of eyes sometimes works wonders. And remember, the Writing Center is always here to be that fresh pair of eyes!