Have you ever considered keeping a journal in a language you are trying to learn? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t, but it can be an amazing way to develop your target language and keep track of your daily thoughts and events. Though this approach may be easier for intermediate language speakers with a foundation in the language, it can also be done by some who are beginners are well. If you are looking to become more comfortable and natural with a language, then journaling is a wonderful option! Let’s go through some of the best ways to enjoy the journaling experience.
Enter the Flow
Entering a flow state is when your mind becomes fully immersed in what you are doing and allows you to concentrate fully. A couple of ways of doing so are turning off your phone, and silencing all notifications or putting aside a set amount of time (e.g., 90 minutes) to focus on just one thing. If you become distracted, you can write your thought down and come back to it later.
Prepare for journaling in your target language like you would for a run with a warm-up! Ease into your journaling session by completing a short activity in your target language and allowing your mind to connect to the exercise. A couple of ways to do this are by completing a short grammar exercise, reading a short passage in the target language or immerse yourself into the language by listing to a video or podcast.
Write Directly in Your Target Language
Do not write in your native language first! It might be tempting, especially if you are not that confident in the language just yet. Of course, you want to do well, but this is not a performance, and the goal is to improve your fluency in the target language, not perform it flawlessly.
Accept that you might not be as good as you want to be at the start. Just write! You can worry about the form and accuracy later. Write as best as you can, even if you have to simplify the language to get your message across. That’s okay!
Put Meaning First
Putting meaning first is essential when you are trying to write in your non-native language. If you try to think of sentences in your head and translate them, nine times out of ten, they translate incorrectly. Focus on the meaning of what you are trying to say and find the words in the target language. The form and grammar do not have to be perfect just yet.
If there is a word that you cannot think of, and you cannot find an alternative to use, write it down in your native language and make a note to look it up later. Don’t break the flow by looking up every second word. The idea is to train yourself to think in your target language.
It can also help to keep a digital journal, as an auxiliary journal to a physical book or as the journal itself. This way, you can record yourself speaking your target language. Digital journaling in this way can help you to practice your accent, hear your progress, and build your confidence in speaking your target language.
Now it’s time to review the text that you have written. Read through it. Check the vocabulary and spelling, and edit as necessary. Verify you are using the correct tenses and grammar.
When you see a mistake, don’t get upset. The fact that you can notice that you made a mistake means that you are progressing! Don’t spend too much time reviewing. Around 15 to 20 minutes is fine.
This won’t be perfect, and that is the whole point. The goal is to improve your confidence and fluency in your target language. Learning a new language is an amazing journey that tells you so much about yourself. It is as much about you as it is about the language. Journaling is a creative and effective way of improving your skills in your language of choice, and using some of the guidelines listed in this article will help you to get started journaling.
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to learning a new language. With journaling, you can make the journey an amazing one. It will all be worth it in the end!
If you are looking to get started with your own journal in a different language, ByteLyfe’s micro journaling app gives you an on-the-go journal that you can also use to tag everything to keep track of them, like notes and recordings. Find out more on their website.