Organizing our thoughts and actions is an essential aspect that is equally beneficial for people related to all walks of life. It is needless to say that organized and planned efforts are far more fruitful and successful than the ones done without any planning and organization. Like any other area of life and field of study, the same principle applies to language learning as well. It is very useful to clearly determine your goals and make a plan to achieve those goals; and a great way to do this is by creating a language journal for yourself.
Why getting a language journal
Contrary to what many people think, keeping a language journal is a much better substitute to digital gadgets and apps such as flash cards and podcasts. A language journal is multi-purpose in nature. You can use it:
- to set long term goals for your language learning,
- to create your vocabulary lists,
- to draw memory aids,
- to use your language journal as a diary,
- to note down new concepts that you learn about the language,
- to quickly revise what you’ve learnt,
- to track your process etc.
Andrew Waldman, a grammar tutor at UK Essayontime, shares his opinion on using language journals, “Writing by hand rather than using apps is better because not only it gets your brain more involved in the process, but it also lets you visibly track your progress. No matter you write 10 pages or 100, the work you complete becomes a source of pride and motivation for you.”
How to organize your journal effectively
Since your language journal won’t have a ‘search bar’, it would be convenient to divide it in different sections and color-code them so you can easily find the necessary one. You can have those sections that might benefit your learning process and help you approach your final goal. The possible sections can be the following:
- Your language learning goals
A must-have section to include in your journal is the section about your goals. They can be short-term or long-term, and can be related to any language skill. No matter you are learning the language as a part of your studies, for work/business purposes, or simply as your favorite hobby, keeping a goals section will help you greatly in the language acquisition process. It will also give you a clear picture of what you intend to achieve, and will let you visibly track your progress.
- Your common mistakes page
Adding a section to note down your mistakes is also a great idea. Beginners and intermediate language learners often come across situations where they are unable to communicate clearly and accurately. A section in your language journal to note down these deficiencies and mistakes is an easy way to keep track of things you misuse and gradually work on them.
- Your own little dictionary:
Another important section that you might want to add is the new words section. You can use this section to note down any new words that you learn, along with some example sentences. You can also add pronunciation notes for new words that you learn. It is a proven technique of expanding your vocabulary, and can also serve as a quick reference for you. You can even add sub-sections for related content such as proverbs, idioms, synonyms/antonyms, phrasal verbs, etc.
- Write your daily diary
Many people use a section of their language journals as diaries, integrating the language learning into daily routines this way. It can help immensely in improving your sentence structure, spellings, and your overall writing skills. This section also lets you practice your vocabulary and any structures, forms, and aspects of the language that you learn.
- New language aspects:
You should also include a section about new aspects of the language that you learn. For example, you might read/hear a new structure or form that you are not familiar with or don’t understand. You can then try finding out about that structure and write it down in your journal in an example sentence for better understanding. Moreover, many rules in English grammar often have some exceptions, and learning about those exceptions and adding them can enhance your language acquisition process.
- Specific topics
In addition to these sections, if you prefer, you can also have a section that is dedicated to specific topics, such as a presentation, an interview, or a business meeting. You can write down related words and phrases with examples and practice them. This way, you can learn specific vocabulary that relates to particular scenarios and occasions.
The list of sections that you can add to your language journal is only limited by your preferences and needs. You can add any type of section relating to any aspect of language. A language journal lets you create your own language learning system that is tailored to your preferences and requirements.
Sophia Anderson is an associate educator, blogger and freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on learning, writing, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development. Talk to her on Facebook or LinkedIn.