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How Journaling In A Foreign Language Can Help

Learning a foreign language can be overwhelming. At school, we are taught in a very traditional way- using grammar books and vocabulary lists. Many people often give up before finding a method that works for them. For some, it may be using apps, for others, it could be falling in love. For the journaling enthusiast, it could actually be journaling.

When we journal in a foreign language, it’s like taking a magical path to achieve your goals- whatever they may be. You can get better in the language that you’re learning and you can even use journaling as a tool to start working on and/or prioritize your mental health.


Here are the experiences of two JoClub members.
They both speak 4 languages each.


MARYSE

A big part of my everyday life, at the moment, is languages. I’m in love with their power.

I’m a native English speaker and teacher.

I speak French at an advanced level, Italian at an intermediate level (still learning, of course!), and I’m currently a beginner in Portuguese (Brazilian, yes).

When I was studying for my DELF B2 exam a couple of years ago, I needed a way to practice writing. It wasn’t about getting the spellings correct, or asking and answering simple questions, such as those via text. It was about sounding complete, elegant and comme une française. So I started looking for ways to do this.

Light bulb moment. 💡
Yes, journaling.

I began writing everything in French. I journaled about my days, particularly those which were more dynamic, as I would need to learn new words and expressions to speak about these new, exciting things.

Journaling in a foreign language helped me realize that I could also write many other things in this language- grocery lists, to-do lists and weekly goals, for example.

Whenever a student wants to improve their writing skills, I advise them to write a daily detailed to-do list. The tasks are usually everyday, common things.

When I say this, I’m not referring to writing “clean the house”. I advise them to write like this: 

“I’m going to clean the house today. I will start with the kitchen, then I will clean the living room. After that, I will eat. When I’m done with my lunch, I will resume my cleaning by cleaning all the windows.”

You catch my drift.

This is simple, and allows you to routinely study the same vocabulary (while improving) and learn how to speak well about your life.

As I journaled, my French writing was significantly improved and refined with each entry.

Whenever I decided to journal in English, it felt too normal, nondescript and uninteresting.


BRENDA

For some years now, writing has become a door to know me: to express what my voice often does not dare to say out loud and to understand what I feel and what I am.

It’s the key to be open with myself.

Page after page, I began to feel deeply comfortable using the magical, expressive, full and usually “noisy” words in Spanish, my mother tongue. They help me fill the spaces that life may have.

But one day, I discovered journaling in English, and I realized that unlike when I learned to speak as a baby, this time I had more power. It was possible to choose how I would tell my own story.

A language that is not yet very connected to your soul and your mind allows you to choose the adjectives you use to describe your life and yourself more carefully.

I feel like the verbs let me act with more freedom, while gestures and expressions allow me to see that there are different ways to be me, to be myself.

I’m still working on the “English version” of myself. I love knowing that I can learn and choose how to tell my story because that adds magic and emotion to what I already am and know. 

It reminds me that, here and now, I can be connected with me, with versions of me I don’t know yet, and in the end, reminds me that I’m connecting with the whole of humanity… the humanity that I am part of.


Don’t let foreign languages scare you away. With journaling, we can offset the pressure of grammar rules and structures and be reminded that the main objective of language learning is to express yourself and be part of a community.

Be free with the use of words and enjoy the process.


Maryse S. Marius is a creative non-fiction writer documenting her life experiences in words. She was born and raised in Saint Lucia 🇱🇨 🏝, and loves learning languages.
Connect with her on Instagram: @MaryseSMarius

Brenda is a medical writer and language learning enthusiast. She is madly in love with journaling, and she works on achieving her dream of becoming a polyglot content creator.

Connect with her on Instagram and find her blog here.


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