I have been using a bullet journal for a while now and decided to tailor it for language learning. A language journal is simply a notebook where you can write down language stuff that you need to remember! My journal has been an excellent resource that has helped me reach my goal of being able to have a 15-minute conversation with a native Spanish speaker. I was able to achieve this in only a few months. So here are 10 tips to get you started!
1. Buy a Journal!
Don’t bother buying a super expensive journal. It will be the information you put in it which will be invaluable. I remember seeing one for nearly £60! However, at the same time, you don’t want one too cheap with thin paper. My personal journal above (feature photograph) cost £3.99 from The Range. The styles from The Range can be rather bland, but for the price the paper quality is good. The pretty one on the left is from Amazon and you can check it out here (affiliate link). There are some really lovely journals available on Amazon and I do highly recommend checking them out.
2. Where it all began…
If you are brand new to bullet journaling check out the official website here to help get you started. I have used this style for a couple of years now and have noticed increased productivity not just in day-to-day life, but in my professional life too.
3. Write the dates/index in your target language
If you are going to use the journal for language learning than it does make sense to plan your language learning in your target language. I have a mix of Mandarin, Spanish and even Icelandic in my journal!
4 Plan it
Plan out the next 3 months ahead. Set your goal. I study 45 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Although this does not include my language exchanges or Italki tutorials, but these are included in my monthly planner.
5 Tracker it!
Use a tracker to record all of the days you studied for the allocated time you have given yourself! I also use my tracker to measure sleep, exercise, and diet.
6 Ten Words-a-Day Challenge
In my weekly calendar I have ten random words a day – for 5 days. I then review these words at the weekend.
7 Cheat Sheet Pocket
At the back of most journals there appears to be a pocket. When I first begin learning a language I keep my ‘cheat sheet’ here so I can jump straight in to speaking my target language from day one.
8 Useful Resources Log
I have allocated a page to new resources . So when someone recommends an app/website or book I write it down here…before I forget all about it!
9 Vocab lists/Grammar advice/Local Lingo
The front half of my journal is the quarterly, monthly and weekly planner. The middle section is dedicated to vocabulary words and short phrases. The back section is notes, cultural information and advice from native speakers. Don’t forget to convert some or all of your new vocab words to flashcards. You could use Anki to do this or create paper flash cards.
At least once a week spend some time reviewing new and older entries/tracker information and learn from this.
Why Does This Work?
A language journal can help you learn a language in a number of different ways.
- Firstly, the act of just writing down words and concepts helps you remember them better. Hand writing notes mean you are paying extra attention to the information you are recording.
- Secondly, you are more organised and less likely to miss that Italki tutorial you booked 3 weeks ago or remind yourself about that online MOOC you had forgotten you registered for.
- Thirdly tracking process not only helps with accountability, but it shows the progress you are making and where you still need some attention.
- Finally having a language learning journal will make you more productive as you have all the information you need to hand. You can write, track and review set goals, record your progress and gratitude in language learning too. You can review old words before you start to forget them.
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