One of the best things about working on the joy of languages blog is that our readers are always sharing smart ideas about how to learn a language. This week’s post is inspired by Anne, Ken and Vanessa, who suggested keeping a journal as a way to improve your speaking skills in a foreign language.
I loved this idea and wanted to get as many people involved as possible, so I’ve set up a language diary challenge on Instagram, together with a little giveaway (more on this later).
First, let’s talk a little about how keeping a language diary can boost your speaking skills.
Writing to improve speaking
Writing to improve your speaking may seem counterintuitive at first. But writing helps develop the skills you need to communicate fluently. To speak a language well, you need to:
- practice organising your thoughts into sentences
- learn vocabulary to talk about everyday events
- identify gaps in your knowledge
A language diary helps with all of these things on a daily basis. It’s a powerful way to improve your vocabulary, grammar and ability to express your ideas – all essential for speaking.
Reasons to keep a language diary
1. Learn useful things
By writing about your day, you’ll be practicing using the vocabulary and grammatical structures that you need to talk about day to day stuff. You’ll learn how to communicate about things that are important to you and the people around you, which is much more useful than the random word lists most language courses give you.
2. Remember faster
Humans are hardwired to remember stories better than other types of information. The little snippets in your diary act like mini stories, which make the grammar and vocabulary easier to remember and reuse. You’re also likely to repeat a lot of the same words and structures, which naturally makes them more memorable.
3. Use the language
When we learn a language, most of us focus on “passive activities” like reading and listening. But if we want to use the language to communicate, we should focus more on activities that help us produce the language. A language diary helps you draw from the vocabulary and grammar you’ve been learning to build sentences you can use in real conversations.
4. Learn consistently
Keeping a diary is a great way to add consistency to your language learning and make sure that you practice using the language you’re learning in some way every day.
The #languagediarychallenge community
I started the language diary challenge on Instagram so that we can work together to help each other learn a foreign language. Research shows that people are more likely to achieve their goals when they work together as a team, so I thought it would be a great way to get a community of language learners together.
And Instagram is the perfect place to write a little something in the language you’re learning each day.
- It’s based on photos and videos, which makes it visual and fun
- Pictures facilitate memory
- You can connect with the language learning community on Instagram, which includes support and corrections from native speakers.
To join in, all you have to do is post a photo or video to Instagram, write or say a word/phrase in the language you’re learning for 30 days* and use the hashtags #languagediarychallenge and #joyoflanguages.
What level do I have to be?
You can join in at any level. If you’re a complete beginner, you could use the challenge to learn simple sentences, or individual words. For example, you could post a picture of a beer and write the word “beer” in the language you’re learning. If you’re advanced, you can practice more sophisticated vocabulary and a variety of tenses. The important thing is to write or say a little something in the language you’re learning.
In each #languagediarychallenge, I team up with a top language-learning company to give away a language themed prize. So far, we’ve given away awesome prizes from italki, add1challenge, FlashSticks, Lindsay Does Languages and irregular.endings.
Join the #languagediarychallenge
I hope you’re feeling inspired to join us for the language diary challenge! To recap, there are 3 steps to join in:
2. Post your picture or video on Instagram and write a word or sentence about it in the language you’re learning for 30 days*
4. Bonus step: Take a look around and leave a comment to support the other learners on the challenge!
Looking forward to seeing your progress on over on Instagram.
*The challenge starts at the beginning of each calendar month. See @joyoflanguages for updates.
What do you think?
Are you joining the #languagediarychallenge? What are you going to write/speak about? Let us know in the comments below.