5 Ways Keeping a Daily French Journal Can Help You

Finding creative ways to incorporate a foreign language into your daily life is an important means of accomplishing your learning goals. Listening to music or watching films and TV shows in French are fun tools for improving your language skills outside the classroom, but there’s another unique activity you should be taking part in every day: journaling. As cheesy as it sounds, keeping a diary or journal in French can be a great pastime and excellent learning tool. Read on to find out how keeping a French diary can have a positive impact on your language skills.

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1. It’s a break

The average American spends around 10-11 hours a day looking at screens. Whether TVs, computers, tablets, or phones, most of us occupy a lot of our day with our eyes glued to some sort of screen (heck, I’m staring at one now as I write this). Language learning involves a lot of this same technology, which is why sitting down to actually jot things in a journal can be a refreshing break from your ‘typical’ learning methods.

Journaling Tip: Don’t let that first page intimidate you. Unless you’re fluent in French, you will make a significant amount of mistakes. And that’s okay! The important thing is to just sit down and write.

2. It’s a memory aid

I’m not just talking about journal entries as a means to recall the details to that time you met Hillary Clinton, or that particularly fantastic birthday party you had, but as a way to build your long-term memory. Apparently the act of writing things down by hand helps significantly with memory, and you’re much more likely to recall the information if you jot it down as opposed to typing it up or listening to it.

Journaling Tip: Not sure what to write? Just jot down the details of your day. Even if they seem mundane and uninteresting, writing them down helps you familiarize yourself with expressing everyday thoughts in French.

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3. It’s a vocab booster

No matter what level you start at when you decide to begin journaling in French, I can guarantee you that your vocab bank will experience some serious benefits. When you decide to set down the details of your day in French, you’ll probably be surprised at all the words you don’t know. The great thing is that you can learn them, and by jotting these words and phrases down you’re more likely to be able to recall them later when you need them again. There will be words you’ll repeat and use on a daily basis that you’ll never be able to forget!

Journaling Tip: Keep a dictionary or translator on hand, and create a list of your most used vocab at the back of your journal so you can easily reference it if you need to.

4. It’s a visual trigger

Writing in a journal allows for a lot more flexibility and puts you in direct control of the final visual effect. There’s a certain structure that’s unique to you. You can do bullet points, or entire paragraphs if you want. You can doodle in the margins or do full out sketches. The sight of your personal structure, handwriting style, and other aspects of journaling will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, but will make you want to keep coming back to your French diary again and again.

Journaling Tip: If you find yourself falling into the slump of writing the same sort of thing day in and day out, change it up every now and then by penning a short poem, or summarizing a Netflix episode you watched, or even talking about what sort of music you listened to that day.  

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5. It’s a habit forming activity

You don’t need to force yourself to sit for a specific amount of time every day and write, as long as you do write something every day. Developing a daily habit like this will help you to be more disciplined in other aspects of your life–especially with your language learning. If you can adjust to a daily writing habit, spending 10 minutes talking aloud in French, or a half hour reviewing your language lesson suddenly becomes that much easier to incorporate into your routine.

Journaling Tip: Solidify your journaling habit by sitting down to write at around the same time every day. Soon you’ll approach it the way you do a task like brushing your teeth: it’s something you have to do in order to get your day started (or to bring it to a close).

Do you keep a French journal? Do you have any tips to help people just starting out with journaling? Share your tips and tricks with us!