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When it comes to learning a language, I’m always looking for new inspiration sources. Either people, posts, images, or videos that’ll motivate me to approach language learning using a new method.
It keeps the process fun and dynamic, and prevents me from boring of my language study. Though you likely didn’t know this, Reddit is an amazing source for connecting with like-minded individuals ready to trade ideas and viewpoints on topics like language learning.
In a gist, Reddit is literally a network of communities based on people’s interests. Being a member of the r/languagelearning community, I’ve had the privilege of collecting quite a bit of valuable tidbits about the right way to keep a language journal.
Figuring out the most effective methods for writing in your language journal is no walk in the park. Often you’ll wonder whether to treat it like a traditional journal, bullet journal, or planner.
But the truth is… it can be all of those and more. There isn’t any one “right” way to fill in a language journal. As with everything else in language learning, it’s entirely dependent on you and your learning style.
Fellow Reddit members prove it to me all the time that there are countless ways to really make the most use out of your language journal. And a lot of users in this community are seasoned language learners and polyglots eager to share real methods that have actually worked for them.
When I read the tips originally that I listed below, I just knew that had to share them with you all. I haven’t been able to find high-quality advice on language journaling anywhere else on the Internet.
If you’d like to find inspiration for your language learning process all the time, head over to 10 ways to NEVER run out of ideas for your language journal.
Now, on to your list of writing ideas!
The trick with journaling is to actually not write about your day. Write about your thoughts and opinions on life or the news. Write about childhood memories or thought bubbles you have.
Write down a dream or a story idea. If something interesting happened in your day, then write about your day.
Not only does this keep things interesting, but you also expand your vocabulary to more abstract ideas.
And this is the most important thing that many don’t understand: you don’t have to write everyday. It’s ok to forget or to take breaks. If nothing interesting happens then you don’t have to write. Use that time to reread entries, find mistakes, improve and learn.
The most useful for me is to glance over the new grammar structures I’ve learned recently and actively try to incorporate those into my writing. The same goes for new vocabulary.
If you want to get native speakers to review your work, I would highly recommend using iTalki Notebook! Although iTalki offered paid lessons, if you make a free account you can access the community tab for free, and under the community tab is a thing called “notebook”.
Here, you can post any writing you do in your target language and native speakers will respond with corrections! It has been really helpful for me.
The “Upside Down”: Write a summary consisting of partial/full sentences taken from the article, but turn the facts of the article (the “5Ws and H”) completely on their heads.
A “male perpetrator” becomes a “female perpetrator”, etc. (You can get really creative with this approach, the only limit is your imagination!)
I prefer video journals. Just set up your phone and talk about your day for like 2 minutes. It can be super short.
It gets you actually speaking rather than just writing it and looking up vocab words and then using them in the journal (which doesn’t reflect your actual skill level).
Even if you restrain yourself from looking anything up while writing it, you still almost never go back and read it anyway, and speaking practice is (almost) always more valuable than writing practice.
With video journals, you can have a nice video montage of your progress too.
I write about what happened that week, what will happen next week, or tell a story about something that happened in the past.
Basically just a way of getting into the flow of writing or practicing different verb tenses. It’s been very useful.
- Find a news article that is at your level (i.e., you can comfortably read the article, not necessarily perfectly).
- Take note on the “5Ws and “H”: who, what, where, when, why, how.
- Write a short summary of the article, from a handful of sentences to a few brief paragraphs. Be sure to include answers to the “5Ws and H”.
I write a letter in Arabic every single day, no excuses. Mostly it is about what I did or plan to do. Mostly I send a photo of it to a friend but not always.
I like it because it really improved my vocabulary. Because you learn the words you actually use. I did it for about five years now, can absolutely recommend!
And the stack of notebooks is awesome to look at!
If you’re looking for a place to write your diary and get corrections from natives you should try https://lingohackers.com.
One of the daily challenges is the “Daily journal”. It’s one of the most popular challenges on the platform and often triggers long conversations.
- Keep your journal in a shared document online.
- Make a voice recording of each journal entry.
- If possible, have a native speaker review your entry and voice recording.
- The native speaker should never delete your original sentences. (It’s important for you to compare your original sentences to the corrections made by the native speaker).
- The native speaker should use highlighting and/or the document’s comment functionality to provide feedback on your written text and voice recording. Comments should never be marked as resolved (so that they can form a continuous, historical record of feedback which you can review).
I just started writing a diary! Alternating between my two second languages. I thought I just would write general day-to-day stuff just to practice, but I’ve actually found I like to write in it as a warm up before I meet with a conversation partner or conversation tutor on italki.
I write about the topics that I expect we’ll chat about, and it gives me a chance to identify gaps in my vocab so I can look up the words.
Then when I’m having the conversation I try out my new vocab to reinforce it and also get feedback from a native speaker about whether the vocab sounded natural in that context.
Pictionary: Copy/paste a picture into your journal and either describe what you see (easier) or use your imagination and create a backstory for the picture (harder).
But Wait, there’s more!
I’m extremely passionate about the extensive usefulness of language journals and notebooks, so they’re a big focus on this site. This list gave you a starting place, but if you’re looking for some thorough guides to fill up your language journal, check out:
- 10 things you NEED to include in your Language Journal (for maximum memory!)
- 5 Super Efficient Ways to Color Code your Language Notebook
- 10 effective ways to organize your language notes
And grab free guides exclusively for my email community by signing up below! All my language journal guides are currently focused on the best measures for improving memory retention and making study fun.
I want that for you, sister!
But let’s be real, a fun language study routine is no good if it isn’t effective as well.
I’ve done my research and have found what I consider to be the best language teaching platforms per language. Because just because an application may teach Spanish amazingly, doesn’t mean the same can be said for Japanese. Some websites are simply stronger than others.
Rocket Languages is the #1 application for people learning:
Innovative Language is the #1 application for people learning:
And Lingualift is the #1 application for people learning:
So there you go! Now, you’re more than ready to go off on your language learning journey.
My language craziness expands to multiple platforms so you can also find me cranking out D.I.Y language learning inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t hesitate to direct message me or comment on one of my posts! I’d love to get to know you beyond this blog.
Until next time!