If you are taking a private English course in a large city like Boston or New York, you probably don't have much time or many opportunities outside of class to practice the new vocabulary words, expressions or grammar points that you learn in class every week. One of my students here in Boston is a busy researcher and while she uses some English at work, she mostly speaks in her native language at home.
A lot of students are able to understand new expressions when they are used by other people but aren't able to use them at appropriate times during natural conversations. So how can a busy professional make time outside of class to practice and start to use the expressions that are learned in a private English course? Journaling is a great way to do it! In this post, we have some ideas for how, why and when to journal. Give it a try and let us know if it works for you!
Why Journaling Works:
I believe that journaling is an important part of language study because it allows you (the student) to take an independent role in your learning. If you really want to become fluent in English, you need to take responsibility for your English improvement. You need to make a conscious effort to practice outside of class and writing in a journal is a way to do that regularly.
Before You Get Started, Remember This:
The only way to really benefit from journal writing is to do it regulary. This point is true when you are trying to learn any skill, but it is especially important for language learning. You should set up a regular time each day to write in your journal. If you can't do it every day, at least write 3 or 4 times per week. To make it easier to remember, choose a specific time each day to journal- at the breakfast table, before bed or on the train, so that it feels like a normal part of your routine.
What Should You Write About?
1- Watch the news and summarize the most interesting story:
This is a great way to use your listening and your writing skills and to learn more about United States culture and current events. If you watch the news and hear new vocabulary words, try to use those words as you summarize the news story in your journal. Don't forget to add your own thoughts, opinion or ideas about the story.
2- Review your day or your weekend:
Using expressions and vocabulary words from your private English course, talk about what happened during your day. Try to use different grammar tenses or another grammar point that you are focusing on in class.
3- Respond to questions in essay form:
Your English tutor can assign thought-provoking questions to answer in your journal. You can organize your thoughts into a more formal essay structure. This is a good way to practice for the TOEFL exam. Here are some examples of some great questions:
- Think about a difficulty you have overcome in your life. How did you overcome this difficulty and how is your life different now?
- Write about an event from the past that you would like to relive. Describe the event and why you would like to relive it.
Review and Correct Your Writing with Your English Tutor:
Depending on your English goals, you can work with your tutor in your private English course to correct your journal entries in class and identify any errors in grammar and usage or if your goal is conversational fluency, you can use your writing topic as a conversation starter and continue using those new vocabulary expressions in a focused conversation during your lesson.
Does It Work For You? Let Us Know!
Has journaling helped you to improve your English fluency? Do you have another idea or strategy that you would like to share with our community? If so, please contact us and let's talk about it. Join our global community of English learners! Receive useful tips every month in your email inbox.
The photo in this post is by JimileeK