Creating an Interactive Language Learning Notebook

Want to learn a new language in a more creative way? You could choose from a Bullet Journal or an interactive language notebook, but what’s the difference? 

Bullet Journaling for languages.  Bullet Journals are described as being the bridge between mindfulness and productivity. A system that can be adapted to your learning and life in general. It’s Perfect for the list builders and those that want to be more organized and strategic in their learning. For more information on bullet journaling check out 10 Ways to use a bullet journal in language learning.

Interactive Notebooks. Popular in schools and colleges the purpose of the interactive notebook is to enable students to be more creative and independent in their learning. I personally would say that interactive notebooks as a cross between a journal and a scrapbook! The interactive notebook will prove an invaluable tool in your quest to meet your language learning goals in a more creative, fun and exciting way.


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Interactive language learning notebooks are a cross between a bullet journal and a scrapbook!

 Need a new notebook or journal, check out our official collection here!

The Benefits of an Interactive Language Learning Notebook

  • Can be used as a personalized diary of language learning.
  • The notebook requires you to use both the left and right hemispheres of your brain, thus forming the creation of new neural networks.
  • Record and respond to information in a manner that is organized, systematic, personal, and intentional, the setup of the notebook enables you to refer to that information more quickly and to apply it more effectively using a style that suits you!
  • Because it provides a structure in which there is room for creative variation the notebook provides opportunities for you to use multiple intelligences and learning styles.
  • Identify and respond to strengths and weaknesses, to practice and develop critical, creative and goal-oriented thinking skills, to develop vocabulary, to articulate and work toward personal goals.
  • A make-it-yourself study guide to language learning!
  • Set goals and monitor your growth
  • An organizational tool that gives you creative control of your language learning.
  • Writers and scientists use notebooks! such as J K Rowling and Einstein!

Important Information

Be COLOURFUL  & LOVE ❤️ your notebook! – Research has shown that colour can enable the brain to acquire and organize information much more efficiently.

Recommended MaterialsInteractive Language Learning Notebook

Templates and Resources 

You can check out all of our free templates and resources here. Visit regularly as more to be added shortly or download our Daily Planner Template.

Organizing Your Interactive Language Learning Notebook

📓 Affix a label the front cover of your notebook and write your name, language you are learning, current level and the level you would like to be.

📓 Number the pages of your interactive notebook in the upper, exterior corner of each page.  Number the pages on the left even and the pages on the right odd.  Use a bright-colored pen (not blue or black) to number the pages and as you do so say them out loud in your target language.

📓 Count five lines from the bottom on every odd-numbered page (every page on the right).  Neatly trace the fifth line from the bottom with the same bright-colored pen you used to number the pages.  This space is reserved for new vocabulary words ONLY. Words that you may learn via language tutorials, courses or study sessions.

📓 Don’t forget to leave some room for a table of contents at the beginning. This can be updated as you go and help keep your notebook super organized!

📓 Ensure you can read your own handwriting!

📓Be clear and consistent in all your efforts.

The Right and the Left-Side…

📓 The right-side or odd-numbered pages of your notebook will serve as your library, i.e. your storehouse of awesome knowledge.

📓 The left-side or even-numbered pages serve as your laboratory for personalizing knowledge and for reflection and as a means to enable a growth mindset. Here you will record what is called active learning, productive learning, or output, i.e. your active, personal, creative, and self-directed interaction response to information that comes from external sources.

📓 Incorporate visual devices, e.g. graphic organizers and diagrams, in your written notes or for the technology lovers print out QR codes and link with interactive online features!

📓 Include white space and boxes, circles or even fluffy clouds around texts for the better visual organization of information.

📓 Revisit, review, and summarize your daily notes as soon after class as possible.  The sooner you return to your notes, the more useful they will be, and the better able you will be to clarify and make corrections to your notes.

📓 Develop your own personalized system of notation, including abbreviations and symbols, and use it consistently throughout your notes.  Make notations in the left margin of the page.   You should add to and refine this list of suggestions to fit your personal needs.

Other, generalized activities include:

  • Spider diagrams
  • Cultural notes and traditional
  • Informative illustrations
  • Flowcharts
  • Motivational quotes, kudos if they are written in your target language!
  • Cartoons or comic clips in the target language.
  • Poetry, original or borrowed, that is relevant to other texts, along with reflection
  • Song lyrics
  • Graphic organizers and diagrams that you generate or borrow
  • Mnemonic devices
  • Pictures
  • Concept maps
  • Weekly Topic Prompts.

Reflection

Once a month revisit and review the content of your interactive notebook. Reflect on your strengths and what you feel you may need to work on. Note achievements and set goals. The SMARTT system is a popular method for goal setting.

Meaningful, authentic, and articulate reflection includes consideration of your work in many or all of the following terms.

1.      What you learned?

2.      How you learned?

3.      Any Strengths?

4.      What you would do differently in the future and why?

5.      The extent to which, why, and how the study sessions have made an impact upon your understanding of the target language.

Reflection is an important part of an interactive learning notebook or journal. It will give an account of your growth as an independent learner.

This is your chance to be more creative!

Share your AWESOME interactive notebook designs and help inspire others!

Share your designs with us on our social media pages. I will select the best (with your permission) and use them as examples on this page and our official Pinterest Page.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with…

#LanguageLearnersJournal #BuJo #InLangNB

 

3 Simple Language Learning Activities for Mindfulness

Guest Blogger: Elena from Hitoritabi


Practising mindfulness is a powerful way to get better results in language learning.

Ever got frustrated at yourself because you couldn’t focus on a reading exercise for more than 2 minutes?

When you practice mindfulness, your attention span improves. This makes it easier to retain the vocabulary you have learnt and to get better results at listening and reading activities.

And what about the times when you beat yourself up because you’re not learning fast enough, or you’re making too many mistakes? Sometimes you think you’re just not good at this language learning thing and you consider giving up altogether.

Before you get that far, give mindfulness a chance…

It will help you become kinder to yourself, more accepting of the mistakes you’re bound to make during the learning process. It gets easier to let go of your perfectionism, that too often gets in the way of your progress.

You’ll finally give yourself permission to take a break when you need it. Because let’s say it, pushing yourself too hard would only bring you to a crisis in your language learning, eventually.

You won’t persist in the damaging habit of comparing yourself to others and harshly judging your weaknesses. Quite the opposite: you’ll be more productive and you’ll even find new fire for your creativity.

And what about those days when doing anything is hard because anxiety crawls up to grab you?

Well, mindfulness also increases your ability to manage stress and gives you better control over your negative emotions. Training your mind to focus on the present moment will relieve your anxiety greatly.

This said it’s clear how taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness every day can be a breeze of fresh air in your studies.

But have you ever thought about making language learning itself into a mindfulness practice?

Performing a repetitive, day-to-day activity can become a way to practice being focused on the present moment.

Simple actions, just like colouring or knitting, can be an anchor for you to avoid getting carried away by distracting thoughts. At the same time, they’re not so energy-consuming to leave you drained. As a result, they are perfect to relax your brain.

The following activities are good because…

You won’t use any app or electronic device.

Being constantly connected reduces our attention span, making it more difficult to focus. While practising on our electronic devices, we often get distracted by a notification, or we feel a sudden need to check our mail. For a mindful study session, go back to good old pen and paper.

You’ll write by hand.

Writing by hand appears to improve your memory. Using pen and paper, instead of a keyboard, helps you recall and understand concepts better. Moreover, the action of moving your hand on the page can be a relaxing and therapeutic action in itself.

You focus on a simple task.

Some language learning activities require you to put a lot of effort into them, to understand new words or complicated concepts. While these activities are important, they can leave your brain exhausted and are not the most appropriate to practice mindfulness.

3 language learning activities for mindfulness

Sort your notes and colour-code your notebook

A lot of the time, I jot down words and ideas on my language notebook as soon as possible, not to forget them. So my notes are all mixed up: vocabulary with grammar, exercises and writing practice in between rules and idioms.

From time to time, I like to take my coloured pens and to order topics by colour: I draw green frames around grammar rules, little pink circles next to idioms, yellow lines for vocabulary.

When starting a new notebook, then, it’s time to review. I re-write the topics I’m still unsure about in the new one, leave the things I know well and the exercises in the old one.

Practising writing a different script

Though some learners argue that learning how to write a different script by hand is useless nowadays, I tend to disagree.

First, as mentioned earlier, writing by hand helps you remember information better. In the case of a different script, you learn it with the muscles of your hand through repetition. This way, even after a break from studies you’ll still be able to write the characters almost automatically.

And of course, like lettering and colouring, it has an anti-stress effect. You could start a learning session with 5 minutes of this activity, to relax before moving on to more challenging tasks.

Grammar exercises

While grammar explanations can sometimes be hard to grasp, grammar exercises are often based on repetition of a pattern or rule over and over, to help you assimilate it.

This much-neglected task has everything you need to stay present and leave the thoughts that don’t serve you outside. You have to stay focused, to remember the rule and try to apply it correctly. At the same time, you don’t need to understand anything new and your brain won’t be overwhelmed by new stimuli.

There’s nothing like tense drills to empty your head and calm down an overworking mind!

Have you ever thought of any language learning activity as therapeutic? What is the one that calms you the most? Leave a comment and let me know!


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Guest Blogger: Elena

I’m Elena Gabrielli, introvert, grammar geek and proud Ravenclaw. I help introverts and other quiet learners to keep anxiety out of language learning.

Come say “Hi” on  Hitoritabi.it,   twitter.com/hitoritabi_lang or join me at The quiet language learners’ nest Facebook group.


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Baby Love

How to stick to your language learning plan and be proud of yourself?

Guest Blogger: Kamila from Polyglots Diary


How to stick to your language learning plan and be proud of yourself?

Do you find it hard to make consistent progress?

And do you feel upset about it?

It may sound cliché but with a language learning plan, you can kill two birds with one stone! Those who learn a language start a journey with obstacles and challenges. Therefore, you can better be prepared and take small and realistic steps.

But how can you make your plan work and what if you can’t achieve your goal anyway? How can you motivate yourself to keep going even when the crosswind is too strong to set some steps forward?

I’ll explain all of that in this post. Oh, and make sure you grab some pieces of paper. You’ll need them.

Write down your ultimate goal

This is the most important step in making a language learning plan because people who write down why they want to reach a goal are more likely to achieve it. Whenever you lose motivation, you can remind yourself why you first started, which can be very powerful.

Why do you want to learn a language? Do you want to talk with your girlfriend or boyfriend in your target language? Or do you want to go on a holiday?

Grab your first piece of paper and write it down as specific as possible!

Add a date to your goal

Learning a language is like a project. By when do you want to have your learning project finished?

Stick your goal to your wall

Or to the cover of your notebook.

Or to the cover of your laptop.

It doesn’t matter where you stick your goal too but it’s important that you can see it every day. This helps you remind why you should put work into reaching it.

Divide your goal into smaller goals

For this step, you’ll need a second piece of paper.

If I would tell you that I want to run a marathon without any training, would you think that I would be able to run the marathon entirely at once?

No. I’ll have to train 5 km first, then 10, then 15, and continue increasing the distance after reaching a milestone. I’ll also need to learn how to breathe and what to eat beforehand to keep going during a run.

The same counts for language learning. You’ll need to set small steps and you should practice your reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

For instance, when I want to become fluent in a language, I divide my goal into the following smaller goals:

  1. Learning the alphabet and the pronunciation of letters
  2. Becoming able to introduce myself
  3. Learning the basic vocabulary
  4. Learning the most common verbs and basic verb tenses (e.g. present, past, and future tense)
  5. Becoming able to can talk about my hobbies for at least 2 minutes
  6. Watching videos until I can follow them with the subtitles in that language
  7. Holding a conversation for 5 minutes with a native speaker
  8. Etc.

Let’s call these small goals “milestones”. Now go and write down your milestones.

Take your time for each milestone

If you want to become fluent in a language, you should practice every day and, at the same time, take your time for each milestone. Don’t forget that little steps add up to big results.

Make a tracker for your language learning plan

With your milestones, you can now make a tracker. It should look a little bit like this:

January February March April May June
Listening
Speaking
Grammar (in writing and speaking) A1 B2
Vocabulary (in writing and speaking) A1 B1

 

Fill the months in the columns and the aspects you want to work on like listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary in the rows.

Of course, you can find your own way to do this and add other things to the rows.

I personally find it useful to use colors for each level and use a legend that illustrates which level each shade of the color represents.

With a tracker like this, it’s visible what your current level is and what level you want to reach after a while from now. You’ll clearly see what you can work on. At the end of each month, you can fill in what your estimated level is.

Define your weekly and monthly activities

Okay, now you know exactly what direction you want to go.

What resources are you going to use and what exactly are you going to do to reach your milestones?

You don’t have to write this down for each month but you can make a mini-language learning plan for each week or month. Define your activities and resources there.

Define how you’ll celebrate your progress

Each milestone is an important achievement. Think of the time and work you’ve put into it. That’s something worth celebrating even if it’s a small thing like reaching level A2. It helps you keep going and punished away your negative thoughts.

Write down how you’ll treat yourself after reaching a milestone.

Reflect & refine

If this is the first time you make a language learning plan, you might not know what exactly ‘realistic’ is for you.

Don’t worry.

That’s something you will discover along the way.

Every week when you define your new weekly activities, take your time to reflect on your progress of the week before. If you’ve done better than expected, you can set bigger goals. If you haven’t done better than expected, then you can set smaller goals.

What if you won’t reach your milestone?

This is when most people feel sad and guilty about themselves. Even if you haven’t reached your milestone, there is always something that you have done instead. Subconsciously, we do more than we think we do.

For example, I’m a non-native speaker of English and often tell myself that I want to practice the phonetic alphabet until my accent sounds great. However, I’m often so busy that I only practice 3 letters.

That’s already something great!

I’m often distracted by watching lots of YouTube videos in English. Even though my accent doesn’t sound quite good yet, I notice a slight difference in my intonation.

That means that I have been working on my intonation too (while I wasn’t aware of it).

Always ask yourself, “What have I done instead?” and don’t be too critical. Write down everything that comes to your mind!

Have you ever made a language learning plan?

Share your language planning tips in the comments!


Kamila TekinGuest Blogger: Kamila

Kamila has taught herself over 5 languages using social media and modern technology. Along the way, she learned how to set goals and make consistent progress. On her blog, PolyglotsDiary she shares her tips and learning experience. You can follow her progress on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!