My native language is Arabic, and I read and wrote in Arabic often. However, I never received academic literature courses beyond high school level.

As far as my English fluency goes, I'd say I'm fluent in the spoken language, with some grammar pitfalls here and there. I also could express myself well enough in the written word. But most of my writing is for professional or technical domains.

My short experience in attempting fiction writing in English exposed a weakness I suffer. I struggle a great deal to compose imagery, use metaphors, or idioms. I find myself mentally composing in Arabic, then attempting to translate into English.

Contemplating the above, I'm considering getting an academic education in English. My first inclination was to study English language arts in a community college. Then it occurred to me that there are many ESL (English as Second Language) as well. Which of the two paths would be most beneficial to a writer like me?

Note: The college I'm considering lists the following outcomes of their English program:

  • Rhetorical Competence
  • Critical and Analytical Reasoning
  • Ability to Use MLA Style
  • Appreciation of Diverse Forms of Literature
  • Ability to Use Technology
  • English language arts. Language arts class will have stories and stuff. You can study the stories and imitate the writers. The ESL classes are for language learners.
    – Double U
    Mar 28 '19 at 2:04
  • Just to clarify your question, you are absolutely certain you wish to write in English rather than in Arabic, but unsure regarding the means by which you might improve your English writing? Mar 28 '19 at 2:04
  • Yes. In other words, this question is about my struggle in the English language. I write in Arabic without much trouble.
    – iamtowrite
    Mar 28 '19 at 2:07
  • 2
    Regardless of what classes you take, just reading more English fiction will also be helpful. Mar 28 '19 at 2:49
  • 1
    I'd like to add on, it would help you tons if you watch English movies/ TV shows and read English books a lot, lot more often. While Education would help you with the correct grammar, these would help you with vocabulary and well as the confidence to speak and write more freely.
    – Bella Swan
    Mar 28 '19 at 5:13

You wish to improve a skill, which is laudable. The rhetoric course could be helpful with metaphor, but idiom is an oddity. Idiom is not easy to teach.

When I started this reply, I was going to use shore up - a construction which makes little sense. Why would a direction combined with a coastline refer to improvement? Yet, it does. To shore something up is to strengthen its weaknesses. Words have multiple meanings and some become rather obscure.

Idioms are strange, referring to things you would not expect. Sometimes it alludes to a form of technology no longer prevalent and sometimes the link seems not to exist. Occasionally, it is clear;a disastrous dam collapse is memorialized by a phrase that is uttered without thought run for the hills, the dam is breaking.

The literature appreciation course could be helpful, but you might find it most useful as a place to find likeminded people who might be willing to help you shore up your idioms.

Years ago - before the Internet - a friend of mine had a small problem. He was taking an English course from a professor from Oxford and wished to impress him. His problem was one you will understand as his Persian and French were much better than his English. He was fluent in spoken English, but written takes longer.

I wanted him to impress this prof and saw it as a challenge. He wrote his paper and asked me to read it, check for errors and see if I could suggest improvements. We would go through it and, if I thought a phrase could be improved, I would suggest a change and explain the precise shade of meaning it would convey. If that change meshed with his vision of the paper, he would acccept it and make the change. If it did not, he kept it as it was. This exercise improved his vocabulary and gave me some valuable practice translating English from one level of fluency to another.

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