Keeping A Diary
Keeping a diary is one of the best ways to improve your writing in a foreign language. Having a pen pal is another, but by keeping a diary, you can see all of your work at the same time, and if you want to have it corrected, you can take it to your teacher rather than wait for your pen pal to write back.
Keeping a diary is a good idea for other reasons too. If you keep a diary you will be able to flick back over previous weeks and months and see how far you have come. In the traditional diary sense, you can make lists and notes of things you find difficult and want extra help with.
A Record of your ProgressOne of the best reasons for keeping a diary is to keep a record of your progress. If you submit work to be marked you may never see it again, but with a diary, you have a record in front of you every day. You will only have to look back a few pages to see that you are improving. This will build your confidence and give you hope that you will become fluent in time.
In addition, as mentioned above, you can make lists of things you are having trouble with to remind you to ask for help with them. Also, keeping a diary will allow you to look back over things you found difficult a few months ago and apply rules which you learnt then to help with anything you may find difficult now.
Finally, a diary is a good place to record new vocabulary so if you forget it, you can look it up and associate it with the reasons you used the word, rather than in a faceless dictionary.
Practise your WritingOf course, the main reason you will be keeping a diary is to practise your writing skills. Writing is one of the pillars of language learning and many people find it easier to write than to speak, because writing gives them the luxury of time – and being able to correct where they went wrong. By keeping a diary, you will be writing about everyday items rather than business terms, which you may never need in speech. Thus, by practising your writing in the form of a diary, you will be helping your speech along as well. You will also use more colloquial phrases in a diary, which should help you to sound more natural when you speak the language.
Get FeedbackJust do not forget, when keeping a diary, to get feedback from time to time. It is unlikely that your foreign language diary is going to contain all of your deep dark secrets, so every few weeks show it to your teacher or a friend who speaks the language. Ask them to cast their eye over it and point out any mistakes you are making frequently. That way, you will not fall into bad habits, which you would if your mistakes went uncorrected.
Keeping a diary is a great habit to get into. Apart from anything else, it gives you an arena to practise your writing skills frequently and away from the classroom – without any repercussions either. It will help build up your confidence so that when you begin to converse with native speakers, you can take what you have been practising and put it into practise for real.