Our rewriting service 

If the people reading your content are learners of English, help them out by adapting the writing style with them in mind.

Reading English can be tough

Who is the training for?

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People who are learning English as a foreign language may be struggling more than is necessary to understand your organisation's written content. At English Unlocked we specialise in helping organisations to engage better with learners of English. Could you improve the accessibility of your services, or sell products to new customers who are not native English speakers, just by letting us rewrite your content? We provide two levels of rewriting - a transparency rewrite and a simplicity rewrite. This unique service could make a huge difference to your clients.

A transparency rewrite

We recommend a 'transparency' rewrite for content which will be seen by both native and non native speakers of English. For example a website for an international firm. We improve its transparency by weeding out certain words and expressions. Take 'weed out' for example. To weed something out is a phrasal verb and they are tricky for learners of English. We would also scour your text for examples of the following, and suggest alternatives for you to consider-

  • Idioms

  • Compound nouns

  • Passive voice

  • Jargon

  • Homonyms

This kind of rewrite improves intelligibility for non native speakers of English in a way that doesn't seem overly simple or patronising to those who do speak fluent English. However, if a text is going to be understood by people who have Limited English Proficiency, this type of redrafting does not go far enough.

A simplicity rewrite.

If your audience are people who usually rely on interpreters, you might consider writing targeted content just for them. For example your non English speaking clients could receive their own versions of- 

  • newsletters

  • flyers

  • emails

  • forms 

If you request a simplicity rewrite we will write your content again from scratch. It will look very different from the original. If an educated fluent English speaker reads it, they will be able to tell they are not the target audience, so it is not appropriate for all contexts.

Simple might not mean shorter

It requires skill to make things simple without dumbing down or diluting the meaning. Here are three of the things we do in a 'simplicity rewrite'-

  • Reduce sentence length and complexity

  • Explain unfamiliar terms

  • Change the formatting to add visual clues

Sentence length will be shorter but the overall text length might not. We build up the meaning slowly in layers and may need to insert explanations if there are concepts which will be unfamiliar to those who did not grow up in the UK. For example in this parenting guide for asylum seekers it was necessary to spend time explaining what a 'local authority' is.

In consultation with you

Until you see your text rewritten you won't know for sure if we are hitting the right 'tone of voice' or level of difficulty. That's why we ask our clients for a first page 'tester' to rewrite before we proceed, so we can establish a writing style they are happy with.

The campaign for plain English.

Plain English offer a rewriting service too. Theirs is worth considering if you want to make a technical, jargon-filled text more accessible for the 'lay' person. In contrast we specialise in rewriting for non English speakers and for people who have learnt English as a foreign language. Some of the same techniques apply, but not all. For example phrasal verbs and idioms can help reduce the technicality of a text, but they only help readers who are fluent English speakers. Learners of English tend to find idioms no less difficult to understand than jargon.

Translations benefit too.

If you have a text which you intend to translate into multiple languages, the savvy way to proceed is to get it simplified first. Whether you go for a transparency or a simplicity rewrite, subsequent translations are likely to take less time and misinterpretations will be less likely. 

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Machine Translation tools (such as Google Translate) are increasingly used by people who have received a communication written in a language they don't fully understand. If your clients are likely to use machine translation, consider that the English Unlocked rewriting service will help. Our research has shown that idioms, jargon and compound nouns often result in incorrect translations by Google. By removing them we improve the accuracy of the machine.

Please note-

Some organisations use Machine Translation for their written content. We do not recommend this because, as this news item shows, it can backfire terribly.

Improve client engagement

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To find out more about this service get in touch. We love helping organisations to become more accessible for clients who are harder to reach, and we will be happy to help.

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Do you know?

Do you know how you sound to non English speakers?

Find out on our communication skills course, and learn how to be more easily understood.

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Are you sure?

Are you sure you know what you're saying when you use machine translation? Google Translate does amazing things if you learn to use it with the caution it deserves.