I do feel it is important to cover all four language skills as part of your daily studying routine. Every day you should strive to read something, write something, listen to something, and hopefully speak something in English. Listening and reading are probably the easiest because there is a variety of material out there online that you can use to practice listening and many more websites you can go to for reading practice, like this one! Listening and reading cover what I like to call input, where English goes into your brain.
Output, or using English, is a bit more challenging. If you are studying English in a non-English speaking country, you know having a chance to use your English is limited. This is where writing a journal will help you.
What is a journal? Well, simply it is like a diary, but less personal. A journal is a daily log of your experiences. Here are the basic “rules” to follow when writing a journal:
- Write something everyday. This is important. Even if you are tired or can’t think of a topic, you should still write something. In these situations you can even write something like, “Today I am too tired to write something, so I’ll try tomorrow.”
- Choose a topic. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few examples:
- What you did, read, watched, made, played, saw, heard, ate, bought…
- Who you met, talked to, heard from, thought about…
- Where & when you went, how you got there and back home: the journey
- How long you slept, read, studied, daydreamed…
- How you felt, how you feel…
- What you like, love, dislike, hate, want to do, and don’t want to do…
- Write at least one sentence, no more than half a page typed. Start the each journal entry with today’s date. Begin with an opening statement to answer one of the topics above (or other topic). After the opening statement, give details and descriptions.
- If you take English classes, try to use any new vocabulary or grammar that you have learned in your journal. It is great practice!
Here is a sample journal entry:
April 7th, 2011
I went to Starbucks this morning. It was about 11:00. It wasn’t rush hour, and it was before lunch hour, so it wasn’t very crowded. I ordered a latte and a donut. I know donuts are not so healthy, but I felt like having one. I found a table near the window on 5th Ave. It was a sunny day and many people were on the street. Maybe some of them were tourists. I stayed there until about 11:45 enjoying my coffee and people watching. There are a lot of interesting people in New York City. I enjoyed a relaxing morning at the coffee shop.
For more of a challenge, write about yourself, but in the third person. Here is the above sample written in the third person:
April 7th, 2011
He went to Starbucks this morning. It was about 11:00. It wasn’t rush hour, and it was before lunch hour, so it wasn’t very crowded. He ordered a latte and a donut. He knows donuts are not so healthy, but he felt like having one. He found a table near the window on 5th Ave. It was a sunny day and many people were on the street. Maybe some of them were tourists. He stayed there until about 11:45 enjoying his coffee and people watching. There are a lot of interesting people in New York City. He enjoyed a relaxing morning at the coffee shop.
Some people like to publish their journal online, and that is called a blog. You may not want to publish yours, but at least, you should write something every day. If you are taking English lessons, talk to your teacher about this and ask your teacher to check your journal. No matter what you do with it, I am sure keeping a journal will help you remember vocabulary and grammar, and give you a chance to use (output) English.
Do you keep a journal now? Please post a comment and let us know how you feel about doing that.