Hey there, language learner!
I have a question for you. How often do you take a piece of paper and a pencil or pen and write notes (or journal) in the language you’re learning?
Have you ever practiced your handwriting in another language? Taken time to learn how to handwrite new scripts (and learn stroke order in Asian languages)?
If you’re saying “Me, me! Every day!” like the eager kid in the front of the class who knows all the answers, stick around. You’ll feel even more motivated by the end.
But if you’re the ducking your head and saying “Ehhh, I don’t know. Is that really necessary these days with all of the ways we can study using tech?” You need to stick around, too!
I get it—writing in a new language isn’t the easiest thing. In fact, most of my students rank it as harder than any other skill in their languages. Even their native language (if they’re not an academic or writer already). Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic tool that will make writing easier for you. But the good news is…it gets easier with regular practice, just like speaking.
Here are a few reasons to write every day in your target language:
- It helps you build a daily habit. You hear this everywhere from every language teacher: the most successful learners make their new language a part of their daily life. That means every single day. If you set a goal to write a few sentences every day, you’ll guarantee that you have output (creating sentences yourself) in your target language. This is especially important if you aren’t living in an environment where the language is spoken. If we are not actively using the language, our brains tend to get lazy and we may struggle the next time we speak. Daily writing (even a little) forces your brain to switch on and actually use the language.
- You make the language your own. If you write notes by hand as you’re studying, you abbreviate and take notes about what’s most important to you. Maybe you underline or circle something as a reminder to remember it. These handwritten reminders create a deeper, more memorable connection. You’re taking the notes from the book and making them your own.
- You are producing the language yourself! I already touched on this above, but it’s important enough to repeat! Are you nervous about speaking your target language? Are you always putting it off and saying you’ll speak when your grammar is better or when you know more vocabulary? Writing is a safe place to practice putting all those grammar and vocab puzzle pieces together. No one needs to see it, but if you’d like correction, there’s a safe space right here with me to receive feedback and correction. 😊
- You can easily track your improvement and focus on what’s difficult for you. Writing is more permanent than speaking. It’s also not possible to accurately remember how you spoke in the past compared to now (unless you record audio or video of yourself). If you’re keeping a daily writing journal, you can easily look back and see how your grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure has grown over time! Plus, keeping a writing journal allows us to reflect on our lives in a fun and meaningful way. It inspires us to write about deeper or more individual topics than we might post on Instagram or Facebook.
If you’re ready to write more, I have two activities that will help you get started!
- Keep a log of the “best things that happened” each day. This is a simple way to start writing in your target language. It can be just a sentence. (I do this daily, and it’s three short sentences at the very most). This task is a simple commitment that can make a big impact on your mindset and your daily habits. You’ll love looking back on your “best things” months or years from now. (And don’t let having a mundane day bother you. Sometimes the best thing can be that it’s almost time for bed, but at least you had a little language practice!)
- Daily writing prompts. I’ve created a FREE 14 Days of Writing Program specifically for ESL learners. Week One focuses on verb tenses, and Week Two is full of conversation starters to practice your American English small talk. The best part about joining is you’ll receive three free writing corrections from me! At the end of the program, send me your three favorite prompts and I’ll edit them (+ send you resources specific to you that will make your future writing even stronger). Did I mention it’s free? Sign up here!
- Find a pen pal. Having a pen pal is a great way to connect with a native speaker on the other side of the world in an enjoyable and unique way. What’s a pen pal, you ask? Pen Pals are people who regularly write to each other and send letters using postal mail. They are usually strangers whose friendship is based on their exchange of letters. Letter writing encourages us to spend more time with our thoughts. We slow down and are creative with our words. Looking for an American Pen Pal? I have a free program for that, too! Click here to read more and to sign up to write me.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to finally start a daily writing practice. Do you write regularly? Do you want to start writing more but haven’t made the leap yet? Let me know in the comments below! I look forward to writing and chatting with you. 😊
- Stick around – to stay (usually to hear or see something interesting)
- Ducking – Lowering the head to avoid something (here it is used in a metaphorical way. If you are avoiding something, you are “ducking” so it does not impact you).
- I get it – Very common conversational way of saying “I understand.”
- Output – to actively produce something.
- Switch on – to start, to begin, to activate.
- Abbreviate – A shorter, more condensed way to write something (For example: ex. instead of the word example 😊)
- Touched on – to briefly talk about.
- Putting it off – Avoiding something with the intention to do it at a later time.
- Look back – to review again in the future.
- Get started – to begin.
- Mundane – boring, dull, everyday (nothing special!)
- Made the leap – to begin something new, a new commitment (especially if it is difficult or scary)