Guidelines to writing italki articles
italki Articles is a great way to share your language knowledge; and at the same time, promote yourself on italki! If you submit an article, italki will help you in editing and marketing your work. With more visibility, you should be able to attract more students! We've put together a short list of suggestions based on a data analysis of the most successful articles on italki.
We hope that by sharing this information, this will help make your article more attractive and informative. While we do not expect everyone to follow all of these suggestions down to the letter, but by bearing in mind of this skeleton, it will certainly facilitate a smoother intake of your article towards successful acceptance and ultimately publication on the site.
A. Choosing a topic
1. Purpose and target audience
- Choose a topic that has relevance to a specific aspect of language learning. General topics such as “reasons to learn Chinese” or “famous tourist places in France” may be interesting to read, but these topics do not directly help improve the reader in the language.
- Consider the purpose of the topic. Do language learners really benefit from reading about this topic? Some useful topics could be, for example: “10 ways to improve a [specific type of sentence structure]” or “how to incorporate [stress points within your speech].” So topics inside the [ ] can be interchanged with stuff you wish to write about. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and ask yourself, “Is this article worth reading?”
- Understand your target audience. Is the intended reader of this article an advanced student, a beginner, or some place in-between? It is important to know who you are targeting your article so that you can tailor the article to suit the appropriate audience.
2. Method of presentation
- Decide the best way to present the article. Is this article best written purely in paragraphs? Articles discussing simpler topics, such as “ways to incorporate flash cards”, could be covered in detail in this form.
- Other articles that discuss specific grammar rules or language techniques would benefit from the incorporation of explanations and examples. These are vital for the reader’s understanding of the article. The examples and explanations can be presented in bullet form.
- For articles that discuss in-depth systems such as the alphabet, numbers, and tones, you may consider the use of tables and lists. These will give the reader a visual understanding of the concepts discussed.
- Lastly, if you wish to incorporate audio or video content to supplement your written article, please make sure to include your external link of the video/audio file in your email when submitting your full article document to the italki article team.
1. Background information on the topic
- Every article should begin with a brief, clear introduction. The introduction is self explanatory: it should introduce the topic to the reader and give a brief background on what it is.
- Don’t assume the reader knows much about your topic. For example, if your article is about the “Russian Cyrillic alphabet,” make sure you explain what the “Cyrillic alphabet” is.
2. Personal thoughts and approach
- The main purpose of an article should be to teach a language learner about a specific language-learning topic. However, it is important to understand that not all learners are interested in all the topics. Thus, you should include your thoughts on why you feel the topic in particular is important to learn.
- For example, is it really that important to understand the different tones in Chinese? Do students really need to learn how to write academically or formally, even if they are just casual language learners?
3. Scope statement
- Finally, the introduction needs to define the scope of the article. This can be done by including one or two sentences describing what aspects of the topic the article will cover.
- This is not the same as the description or summary. The purpose of the scope statement is to outline the specific points of the article, not an extended view on the topic itself. An effective method to do this is to simply introduce the sections of your article within the context of the topic.
1. Section headers
- Many articles will discuss a variety of points. In order to organize them in a way that is easy for learners to read, be sure to include section headers when necessary.
- Certain articles may not require this, but longer articles need to be divided into subsections.
- For articles written in paragraphs, please be sure that the content remains relevant to the topic at hand. Oftentimes, it is easy to stray off-topic when writing in paragraphs.
- Keep the reader interested by writing with a personal voice or tone. Include your opinions and feelings on the topic. This will make the piece more dynamic and engaging to readers. With that said, refrain from having an inflammatory tone in your writing, provide balance whenever possible. Ultimately, leave the content open for the reader to decide their stance on what is written.
3. Explanations and examples
- For articles that incorporate the use of explanations and examples, be sure to clearly label what is an explanation and what is an example. This is a rather simple thing to do, but is often overlooked and taken for granted nonetheless.
- Make sure you use explanations to describe the rules at hand; don’t just list examples! We often get submissions that have headers and examples, but lack explanations to how those examples are relevant.
- Try to think of examples that are relevant to the target audience. For example, if you are writing a Chinese-learning article for foreigners living in China, a good example you can use is <我喜欢吃肉包> (I like to eat meat buns—an inexpensive Chinese snack that many foreigners enjoy eating).
- It is also helpful to bold your examples to differentiate from regular text.
4. Tables and lists
- For articles that incorporate the use of tables and lists, be sure to include a title. Again, this obvious necessity is often overlooked.
- Avoid using colors. Some may think that adding colors to a table will make it visibly more attractive, but the truth is that it makes it harder to read.
- For articles primarily consisting of explanations, examples, tables, or lists, be sure to include transitions between main points. Readers can grow tired of reading through blocks of information one after the other. By adding transitions, you can help readers ease into the next ideas at hand. Transitions do not have to be long. In fact, one sentence that can bridge one idea to the next will suffice.
- A good example of a transition would be: “In addition to the use of transitions, structural consistency is also vital in developing a strong article”.
6. Structural consistency
- Well-organized articles need to have a consistent structure to ensure that readers can easily navigate through the piece. Take this article (italki Article Skeleton) into perspective. Imagine if the first half was written in blocks of paragraphs, and the second half was written in bullet form. Would it be easy for you to navigate through? In the same way, it is particularly important for long articles to be structured in a consistently thought out form throughout.
- As discussed in above, using headers and subheaders can help.
- Also, consider the spacings of your headers and paragraphs -- keep them consistent.
1. Summary of main points
- It is suggested to finish your article with a brief conclusion to help the reader to ease out of the article. This should give the readers a sense of resolution as they finish the piece. An acceptable conclusion for the purpose of italki articles should be three-to-five sentences long (or two-to-three sentences if you write longer sentences).
- You could begin your conclusion by briefly highlighting the main points discussed in your article. One way of doing this is to re-write your scope statement in a different way.
2. Call to action
- To conclude your article, leave the reader with a call to action that will challenge the reader to continue to learn. Ultimately, the article should leave readers on a positive note that will encourage them to apply what they have read.
- Your call to action can be written in a personal tone. This way, readers can truly take the encouragement to heart and use it as motivation to improve.
- For a good example of a call to action, refer to the conclusion of this article.
Additional Resources (Optional)
1. For your reference
- Have a pool of resources that will allow you to double-check to make sure the information you present in your article is accurate.
- Please understand that italki Articles strictly prohibits plagiarism, so use your external resources as a guide only, not as a direct source of your content.
2. For citation purposes
- If you feel that your resources could be helpful for the language learner to read about, you may include it briefly in your article but be sure to cite them at the bottom of your article.
Now that you have read through the italki Article Skeleton, we hope that you have developed a better understanding of how to write strong articles. italki is driven by our community of dedicated, passionate teachers, and students. All of your personal growths and improvement is our priority.
Thank you for your continuous support of italki Articles. We look forward to reading your next article submission!