I came across a video by Hyunwoo of the fantastic ‘Talk to Me in Korean’ series which encouraged journalling in a foreign language on a daily basis. I was inspired to give this a go myself, and I think it can have a positive impact on your language learning from day one!
Why is journalling in a foreign language recommended?
Keeping a language diary is a way to aid your language learning especially when you are unable to immerse yourself in other ways. For example, you might have no native speakers nearby to talk to. It is really important to practice your production skills in your target language, so writing is the next best area to focus on.
I’ve become acutely aware recently that my speaking and writing skills in Japanese have suffered a lot. I took a break from learning Japanese and so I am keen to build these skills back up again. As it happens, I ended up with two 2017 diaries, so journalling in a foreign language is a great way of putting the spare diary to use.
My experiences journalling in Japanese so far
I have been doing this for a couple of weeks and I am really enjoying it so far. One thing I immediately discovered is that I absolutely have to write out the diary entries. On busy days, I settle for just typing a couple of sentences on my phone. Writing in my diary seems to engage my brain in a different way compared to typing on my laptop. Having said that, I have always found that handwriting things in Japanese
I think this is even more important where the writing system of your target language differs to your native language(s). In the age of predictive text, you can end up solely relying on your ability to
I keep my journal very simple (ie. boring), but I have seen some amazing language journals on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. If keeping an aesthetic journal is important to you, you can get plenty of inspiration online!
But I don’t know what to write/ I have just begun studying a new language!
Don’t worry about the content of your entries too much. Even writing out a new word you have learned a few times will help to consolidate your knowledge.
This is the time to experiment with new words and phrases you may have learnt but try to put these into sentences where possible. Some people find writing out sentences that they already know to be correct is helpful for revising new grammar points and vocabulary.
How do I check whether my writing is correct?
For short sentences and phrases, Hi Native is a wonderful app for getting quick feedback. Check out my review of the HiNative app to learn more.
I used to highly recommend a website called Lang-8 for longer pieces of writing. Aimed at language learners, you can publish posts in your target language. This is then available to native speakers who can read and correct your work. Japanese friends, of course, might be happy to do this for you but sometimes getting input from complete strangers can provide a fresh perspective.
Unfortunately, Lang-8 is not accepting new applications. If you do not already have an account I would check out Hello Talk or Italki’s Notebook instead. Both of these sites work in a similar way to HiNative and Lang-8, and are free to use!
Being a community of fellow language learners, I have always found people on these websites to be extremely helpful. Make sure that you return the favour and review other people’s writing!
Finally, don’t forget to periodically look back what you have written. I think that this is a great way to stay motivated with Japanese, as you can easily track your progress.
Do you keep a journal in Japanese/ another language? Have you found it useful so far? Let me know in the comments.