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How To Learn A Language By Journaling

Do you want to know a simple way to be more productive, stay motivated, acquire your target language, and interact with the language every day - from day 1?

The best way to accomplish all of these goals is by keeping a journal. Some suggest that you use this type of journal for writing new words and grammar points you learned.

I don't mean a notebook where you write down new vocabulary and grammar points. Rather, I mean a place where you talk about your life, wishes, and plans - all in your target language.

You can start this from day one like I did with French, and although at the beginning you will rely on Google Translate, sooner than you think you'll be able to write your entry without any help!

Without any further ado, let's hop into one of my secret learning techniques that I have never heard be discussed anywhere else!

¡Empecemos! (Let's start!)

picture of a cartoon journal and text that says "Learn a language by journaling"

Summary: How To Learn A Language While Journaling

Learning any language has its challenges! Most notably when it comes to conjugations and other grammar concepts that are super foreign to us as native English speakers. If you want to acquire grammar, and vocabulary with little effort, you can do this little by little every day using a journal.

To accomplish this you should follow these steps:

  • Use Google Translate to write and translate you journal entry

  • Be conscious of which conjugations you're choosing (if you are talking in the future/present/past)

  • Read over your entry 1-2 times before writing it (to avoid spelling mistakes)

  • Write entry slowly - paying attention to each word you put down on paper

  • Let Google Translate read it to you, just follow along with your handwritten entry

  • Read it once yourself (optional) and move on.

Learn Vocab & Grammar With A Journal

This method has helped me learn about 1,000 words in Spanish, but more than that, it has helped me understand conjugations to an unmeasurable degree. Whenever you keep a journal in in your target language, you learn how to talk about how you feel, how your day went, and what you did.

You also have some control over which conjugations you learn - for example, I am learning French right now and I want to master the future tense. So every morning before I start working, I journal about what I will do during the day.

This teaches me verbs in the future like “Today I will write 2 articles about… and…” then “Afterwards I will make… for lunch and I will listen to French With Nelly videos while I do it.”

On the other hand, if I wanted to learn the past tense - I would write my entry in the evening about what I already did.

Step 1 - Get Yourself A Journal That You Like

The first step in this process is getting yourself a journal that you enjoy writing in. If this isn’t a big deal for you, anything will work - as long as it's a notebook 100% dedicated to journal entries.

picture of my journal and pen i use to learn languages

But what can I say, I am a sucker for appearances so I always get myself journals that make me feel happy to be writing. If you're bit like me, then Amazon has everything you could want.

If you are 100% like me, check out GouletPens, the paper they sell is rich, and high quality. You can also pick yourself up some super cool inks and pens.

How To Use My Journaling Technique

I usually refer to my journaling technique as “The TWRF Method” but in this article, it will be better suited for complete beginners. The acronym stands for Translate, Write, Read, Forget.

The steps are simple, they don't give us headaches, and we can easily get into this habit with little effort. In all, it might take 10 minutes a day.

1) Use Google Translate To Write Your Entry

Go to Google Translate and set it to English to **your target language** and write out your journal entry. You can get really deep or just talk about the things you did. I do both, depending on the day.

Once you have your entry, follow this next step.

an example screen shot of me using google translate to create my journal entry with all of the conjugated verbs highlighted

Be Conscious About The Tenses You Are Using

I have noticed that the acquisition process is sped up a lot just by taking a look at the tenses that I am using. So take a look at the picture I just showed you. When I am writing in English I am purposefully thinking "How do I say - I will write, or I am going to write".

2) Read Over The Journal Entry (Before Writing)

This is the step that I added that’s usually not in my journaling method. After starting French recently, I remembered this beginner phrase of journaling in a new language where you have to pay good attention to all the words - or you’ll misspell them.

To avoid this, I read over the translation once or twice.

The problem occurs whenever you glance at a word for the first time and then you write it and realize you switched the vowels Eu with Ue in a word (for example). I know it’s a stupid mistake, but it happens so consistently that I am sure it’s not just for me that this happens.

3) Write The Entry Slowly, Focus On Each Word

a picture of my journal entry from today

This step not only helps you to not commit unnecessary errors in your spelling, but it will help you retain more vocab.

Think of your brain as a sponge.

Imagine how much more water the sponge soaks up if you slowly move it through the stream of water vs if you whip it through for one second.

Let your brain see each word for 1-2 seconds before moving on. It helps a lot!

4) Let Google Translate Read It To You

Now I know the voice on Google Translate isn’t the most charming, but it does a good job of pronouncing consonants and vowels correctly. Just let Google read it to you once, and follow along with what you wrote in your journal - and yes, your handwriting is what you should be reading.

The reason I suggest you read along with your handwriting is because your brain only wants to remember relevant things. If it’s your feelings, or your experiences, written by your hand, that seems more personally relevant than the foreign language on a screen.

5) Read It Yourself - And Move On

Now you give this a try. Try and read it to yourself. If you don’t want to - that’s fine too! The linguistic community is in a constant feud trying to figure out if we should speak from day one. One half says yes, one half says no, I say if it feels like it’s right for you, go for it! I know I do it!

Conclusion: How To Learn A Language While Journaling

If you want to learn how to learn a language while journaling you only need to follow a few steps:

  • Get a journal that you will enjoy writing in and will be 100% dedicated to this purpose

  • Go to Google Translate and write your journal entry

  • Be conscious about which conjugations you are using (So you can understand them quicker)

  • Read over your journal entry before writing (So you don't misspell a word)

  • Write your entry slowly, paying attention to which words are used to mean what

  • Let Google Translate read the entry to you - Read along

  • Read it yourself - and move on

Now make a habit of doing this every single day, and you will get better at spelling words and understanding grammar. You will also expand your vocabulary effortlessly.

If you want to know more ways to acquire a language, check out this article I did - called “The 13 Best Free Methods For Acquiring A Langauge”.

Have a great dad/evening/night. ¡Hasta luego!

- Ben


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