I speak English as a second language – can you help with editing my document?

As the business world becomes more globalised, advances in technology have helped to create new opportunities for many of us to deal directly with colleagues and clients in other countries.

However, if your company's business language is English but you're not a native English speaker, this can pose a challenge. Working in the global economy often requires the ability to navigate unfamiliar timezones, master remote working and learn who's who in the London/New York/Sydney offices – all while communicating with confidence.

At times, it can seem like there's an almost endless stream of communication. And if your role involves proposing new ideas, briefing colleagues on projects or persuading other teams of the merits of a particular suggestion, getting your point across clearly is crucial.

If English is your second language and you're wondering how an outside editor or proofreader can help, this page is for you.

Can I have my document edited if English is my second language?

Yes, you can. Whether you need help editing your CV or you'd like someone to proofread a new client proposal, most editing and proofreading services will be able to help.

As an example, many of our customers speak English as a second language, but they know that by turning to an editor who is a native speaker for help with their most important business documents, they can ensure their message is clear, while freeing up their time and energy to focus on the day job.

Typically, when English isn't your first language, parts of your document might not be written as clearly as your audience would like (although don't worry – a lot of native writers have this problem too!).

The good news is that an editor or proofreader whose native language is English will be used to spotting such issues and can help to refine your wording so that your message is clear first time.

Will it cost more to have my document edited if I'm not a native English speaker?

To be honest, this can depend on the editing service you use. Some services recognise that their editors and proofreaders will need to spend extra time working on documents when the writer isn't a native English speaker, so they charge accordingly – perhaps adding a small percentage to reflect the additional work involved.

Other editing services take the approach that even a document from a native English speaker can require a lot of work, so won't charge any more without seeing your document first.

At Human Communications, we don't typically charge extra to edit or proofread documents where English is the author's second language. Our team is very used to working on these documents, and this is reflected in our editing and proofreading prices.

My English isn't very good – will an editor be able to understand what I'm trying to say?

There are always some situations where your intended meaning might not be clear to the editor reviewing your document – however experienced they are.

But in most cases, a professional editor will have enough experience to be able to at least guess at your intended meaning, and suggest improvements based on that. If the meaning of a particular phrase is very unclear, your editor may add a comment to highlight this, or get in touch to let you know about a particular difficulty with your document. Even then, they'll still probably try to work out what you meant to say.

People typically use an editing service when they need help polishing their message without changing its meaning. And, whether you're writing in your native language or not, most editing services will aim to do just that when you send them your document for review.

Is it unusual to need help with editing my work if I'm not a native English speaker?

Not at all. There are many reasons why people seek help with editing their documents, whether they're native English speakers or not. These can range from saving time and resources by not doing the work in-house, to a lack of confidence in their own language skills.

Often, someone submitting their work just wants the reassurance that comes from having a native English editor or proofreader look over their document and suggest changes before they share it with a colleague or their boss.

How will an editing service help me if English is my second language?

If English isn't your native language, it can be especially hard to spot mistakes in your writing, or to identify areas where your writing style or word choice could be gently improved.

It's not always a case of correcting errors in your work either – many people rely on an editor to polish their documents and help them to put their message across more clearly. If your document is intended to persuade someone to do something, this can be particularly important – for example, if you're preparing a new business proposal or reworking your CV before submitting it for that perfect job.

Another challenge is that the English language doesn't always follow very clear grammatical rules, so a native English editor can be a big help in ensuring that your writing avoids some of these traps.

I know what I want to say, but I need someone to write it for me...

If you're looking for help with writing the first draft of a document, then please have a look at copywriting services instead of editing or proofreading services.

Not all editing companies will offer copywriting as a service, so it's worth checking whether your chosen company can help with this. Alternatively, you can look around for a freelance copywriter or a dedicated copywriting company. At Human Communications we also offer copywriting services, so please let us know if you'd like a quote for a writing project.

Did you find this article helpful? Or do you have any other questions about document editing when English isn't your native language? Send us an email and we'll try our best to answer them for you.

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