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Why You Need a Language Journal and How to Make the Most Out of It

by Lynn Adamsen

Organization is what defines a person’s life. With a good organization, things tend to flow smoothly as the days fare on. Since the invention of technology writing, more people seem to prefer online apps to traditional writing. Online apps should however not be taken as a substitute for hand writing. With a good journal at hand, it is easier to plan your life and set goals. In addition to retaining craftsmanship, a journal demands you to write by hand which goes a long way making your brain retain more.

In an experiment carried out to determine the relationship between writing text and recalling them was deduced that writing foreign words has a positive effect on their integration in memory. Through writing, the human brain forms memory codes which ease the access of information in the brain. Memory codes assist in the formation of word forms. To boost your learning of a new foreign language, writing the words an language patterns down should come in handy.

Why do you need a language journal?

It’s not written in stone that a journal has to be operated like a diary only. Instead, you can organize your journal in such a way that you have several important segments that carry the wide range of ideas that you may need to write. (Don’t plan too many segments in the journal. This may make it too cumbersome to handle). You can have bookmarks in your journals to assist you in learning the many parts of language. Remember to miniaturize your journal in such a way that you can use it for about a year and still be able to carry it around easily.

To get the most out of your journal, these are some of the sections that you may need to pack in order to improve your studies.

1. Your Language Learning Goals

This section will clearly outline what you intend to study, how you intend to study and how much time you intend to pump into the process. In the case of language, you can outline how much you need to learn in, let’s say, a month. If you need to improve your speaking skills in a new language, the journal can help you plan activities that you need to undertake to improve your speech. The activities may include listening to podcasts, joining a speaking club, individual lessons, skyping with a foreign friend or practicing using basic communication phrases and patterns. After drafting a clear plan, it is far much easier to get started.

2. Your Mistakes Page

With a journal, you can write down your mistakes and learn from them. This goes a long way in ensuring that before you make the same mistake again, you can consult your journal and run away! This segment will act like your constitution. You can list past mistakes that you’ve sworn not to repeat.

3. Grammar Notes

Most learners assume grammar to be the most boring or difficult part when learning a language. However, in a journal, it doesn’t necessarily need to be all about grammar terms and lists of rules that will make your mind go crazy. With a bit creativity, like using different pen colors and drawing pictures or symbols to represent a grammar structure, can help you understand and memorize it much better.

4. New Words and Phrases

In this segment, you can write down new vocabulary you’ve learned or unknown phrases and words you come across but lack time to look up. After finding out their meanings, play with them in sentences and short essays. Set yourself new targets that you need to attain, for example learning 10 words every day.

5. New Language Aspects

From time to time, you will hear new patterns or structures that you’d like to understand. With a journal, you can record them to research on later or ask your language teacher to explain. Work through them in context to make sure you understand how this or that structure works.

6. Writing A Diary

Regular journaling enables you to record your life events in orderly manner and use them to practice newly learned vocabulary. You can also find equivalents of the words and phrases you use daily in your native language to make a list of active words to be used in your second one. There is no need to cover everything you had during the day, just the most prominent events, conversations or feelings. This goes a long way in ensuring that you write short meaningful and error-free content. Reread your writing from time to time, as your skills are improving, to look for mistakes and make necessary corrections.

7. Thematic Mind Maps

Learning a new language can be much easier if you learn the vocabulary related to one theme. Allocate 1-2 pages for each theme, for example “work” or “giving presentations”, and add essential vocabulary with examples. The mind map vocabulary organization can help you learn your targeted language far much faster. Imagine how much you can learn in say 3 months if you learn one theme per week.

8. Useful Language Section

As you learn a new language, you are likely to find everything useful. It is, however, important to create a section where you can list the most important things so that you can lay more emphasis on. For example, this can be a list of linking words or basic small talk phrases.

9. Resources

Create extra pages where you can list sites and books that can be of help to you. This will enable you to remember to read those books later.

In conclusion, it is important to have a well-organized journal that can help you learn a new language more purposefully and faster. Just give it a try and be persistent in your intentions.

About the writer

Lynn Adamsen is a language teacher and also an editor at Best Essays. At her odd moments, she is taking full advantage of creative writing and blogging. Feel free to get in touch @lynn_adamsen.

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