While traditional textbooks certainly help with studying a new language, a lot of learners find that unconventional methods can do a lot to stimulate language mastery and memory. One great, hands-on supplement to textbooks and language-learning apps is making your very own language journal.
Language journals and notebooks are a fun way to personalize and document your experience, and they also make the perfect travel companion. Not to mention, writing things down improves our ability to remember them. The main idea is that you guide your own learning by recording vocabulary and other language concepts you run into. It’s a way to make language learning more personal, and a lot more engaging.
If you’re looking for a creative and helpful addition to your learning routine, follow the steps below to make your very own language-learning journal.
What You’re Going To Need For A Language Journal
- A blank notebook
- Glue stick or tape runner
- Colored and/or patterned cardboard paper or transfer paper
- Markers and highlighters
- Pens (regular and colored)
- Rubber bands
Depending on how you go about your journal, you really could get away with just a notebook and a pen. But the more artistic supplies, the more fun you’ll have. Let’s get to it!
Give It A Motivational Cover
You want this notebook to have your name all over it, figuratively or literally. You can make it go along with a certain theme, like the language it’s dedicated to, or something that shows the range of interests you’ll be including on the pages. Whatever you choose, make it quintessentially yours. You’re going to have to look at it a lot, so the more effort you put in early on, the better.
Figure Out What You Need To Work On
What are your learning priorities? Answering this question will help with developing the direction your individual language journal takes. Perhaps you want to focus on term memorization and will include a recurring vocabulary section. To do this, you can just set a goal to write down a certain number of new vocabulary terms every week, for example. Or maybe you struggle with conjugating subjunctive verbs and, therefore, should create exercises to practice in your free time. Writing down verbs a bunch of times doesn’t sound fun, but by using exciting colors you can make it more engaging and memorable than just writing in pen over and over.
Those who have a focus on becoming more confident in their conversational abilities usually dedicate at least a page a week to writing short fictional stories or recounting the day in their chosen language. If you’re a visual learner, try drawing a picture and describing it. Mixing together drawings and words is a great way to engage your brain. Of course, you can and are encouraged to do a mix of different approaches, as it’s the best way to personalize your learning curve.
Tailoring the journal to your personal needs and interests is arguably the best part of the exercise. Try to tie in other interests so even when studying sounds tiring, you can have some fun. Aspiring fashion designer? Cater your vocabulary to the newest trends. Self-proclaimed foodie? Draw some of your favorite foods and see if you can translate their names into your designated language. The possibilities are endless!
Stay Committed To Filling It Out
Staying motivated can be a struggle, no matter how you’re learning. While a language journal can seem light and fun, what it’s really about is forming healthy language-learning habits. You might not write in it every single day, but having a regular schedule will make you more accountable to actually filling the notebook out. Make an effort to consistently fill it out by taking it with you on trips abroad (or to multilingual U.S. cities). Or, if you’re learning along with an app, write entries after each Babbel lesson!
Keep Track Of How You’ve Progressed
Every few weeks or months, go back to the earlier pages in the book and notice how much you’ve learned since starting the journal. This is an awesome way to use that knowledge to shape how your entries change going forward. Maybe you’ll want to challenge yourself more? The choice is all yours.
The best part of making a language journal? You make the rules! Get imaginative and give it your best effort — you’ll be conversational sooner than you think.