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Why I Prefer to Write in English Even Though It’s Not My Native Language

6 Reasons Why I Choose to Write in English

A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled “10 Things About Me That Might Surprise You”. In the article, I confess I’m Dutch and that English is my second language. Then, fellow writer Nick Wignall added a note to that saying that the reason why I write in English would make a fascinating article according to him. Well, I’m not sure about fascinating, but it got me thinking… why do I prefer to write in English?

I used to write in Dutch of course. It’s easier to navigate I have to admit. Naturally, words come easier. However, there is just something about English that fascinates me, ever since I was a little kid.

I would love to live in the United Kingdom one day, always have. Whenever my feet hit British soil, I feel at home. The people, the customs, the pubs, their way of life. I love it.

But that doesn’t answer the question: why do I prefer writing in English?

1. I Love the Language

I just love the English language, from the pronunciation, tone, rhythm, and possibilities. Obviously, I have to look up words or grammar, but I’m striving to become better and I’ve learned a lot in the last one and a half years.

I like to play with words in English. I prefer reading in English as well (however, only when the book is written in English originally). English fiction inspires me immensely and I usually pick up something from every book that I read. Whether it’s new words, writing style, how dialogue is written, the use of adverbs, etc.

2. I’ve Been Studying English Since the Age of 6

In the same article I mentioned in the introduction, I state buying a children’s laptop from my first “paycheck” at age 6. On this laptop was a program to learn English vocabulary. I loved it!

When I was about 8, I had my first English class in primary school. I can still hear the voice on the tapes we were listening say “speakers corner, listen and repeat”. And that’s what we did.

My grandfather used to love to buy antiquities or any oddity really on flea markets. Naturally, my grandparents’ house is a museum. Every time I visited (even up to half a year ago when he died), he invited me up to the attic to discover his new treasures.

When I was younger, he bought me a suitcase filled with cassettes of an English course. At the time I was already carrying around my Discman, but he didn’t care. He set up the tape player in the attic for me and together we listened to the course.

In high school, I was quite good at English, so much so that I was selected to participate in extra English classes called “Fastlane”. Two extra hours of English per week. We mostly studied literature and had to prepare presentations. It was great. This was largely due to the fact of my English teacher.

Another thing that many people abroad don’t know, but in the Netherlands, we watch all the movies and tv shows with subtitles. Unlike the Germans or Spanish who dub everything. This is one of the reasons why the Dutch are usually able to speak English I think.

Last, since I’ve been a book nerd all my life, I usually ordered the newest books in English, before they were translated to Dutch. I remember buying a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the airport. I was so happy, I would know how the story continued before all of my friends would!

3. I had a Very Passionate English Teacher

I’ve never had such a passionate teacher as my English teacher. Which, I guess, further fueled my love for the language. He is a big man, who loves English language and culture. He writes too. He published several books about the blues and their impact on certain time periods in the United States.

With the Fastlane group, he took us to see Oxford and Cambridge. I was sold. Immediately, I felt connected to the UK.

He has an unapologetic rapturous laugh. Whenever he was explaining hidden messages in literature his eyes lit up. Especially when he had found something indecent in a novel by one of the Brontë sisters.

When we read Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights, or one of my favorites, Catcher in the Rye, my love for the written word was ignited.

I’ve sent him my first book with all my short stories about a month ago. I got an email from him that he was proud of me and that he liked how I played around with the language. A great compliment! 🙏

— Psst, want to check out one of my short stories? Find them on my website www.turnerstories.com

4. I Studied in the UK

I studied in Amsterdam but when I was finally able to go on an Erasmus Exchange I knew I had to go to the UK. My university had some contacts throughout the UK, but Manchester Business School attracted me the most. Why? Because of one sentence from a review from a student who went before me: “A great student city with a vibrant night-life and the cheapest city in the UK”. What more can you ask for as a student?

It was a great time, and I probably visited the pubs and clubs more often than the University classrooms. I met a lot of friends from all over the world. Most I still speak to or even see on a regular basis. Some edit my stories. I met one of my best friends there and I was his best man at his wedding last year.

While we were there, we traveled throughout the UK: Dublin, Glasgow, Cardiff, Oxford, London, Lake District, Bath, you name it.

This is one of those total immersion things people tell you about when learning a language. It was the best way to learn it. And at one point I dreamed in English too.

5. English Has a Greater Reach Than Dutch

This one is relatively simple. The Netherlands has a little over 17 million inhabitants. The UK, the USA, and Australia together have close to 500 million inhabitants. Not to mention the number of people who speak English compared to Dutch.

I read that 1,5 billion people in the world speak English. You do the math. It just makes more sense, I can potentially reach many more people.

6. More Opportunities in Terms of Self-publishing

And with a greater potential reach come more perks. Self-publishing in English makes more sense too. With Kindle Direct Publishing from Amazon, you’re able to self-publish (e)books.

The sheer number of blogs, magazines and even literary contests out there by far exceed what’s offered in Dutch.

And then there’s Medium. I can reach you and so many other people here. I couldn’t if I’d write in Dutch. I’m very grateful for that.

Conclusion

It turns out there are a LOT of reasons that explain why I prefer to write in English. And if your native language isn’t English either, but you are proficient enough, I would urge you to try and publish in English. Especially here on Medium.

Perhaps your first posts aren’t very good. You’re spelling is off or your grammar (happens to me still, don’t worry). However, when you try and you actually do it, you can grow!


That’s all folks. Let’s keep in touch.