Why every language learner should keep a diary


All learners should keep a language learning diary. They can be much more revealing than expected. While glancing through a diary I kept when I first started learning Spanish some years ago, the first comments were very revealing. I thought I knew exactly what was going on, and knew what kind of learner I was and what would happen. However, simple comments like:

  1. “I  had  always  felt  a  little  prejudiced  against  the  language  because  the  people  I  have  mixed  with over  the  years  seem  to  feel  this  way  towards  Spanish.  They prefer French.  So  I  felt  I,  too,  ‘didn’t  like’  Spanish  but  I  hoped  I  would  be  able  to  overcome  this.”

and 

  1. “I  wasn’t  not  sure  how  my  voice  and  accent  sounded”

Reveal that I seemed to think that liking the language (or not) was very important and I assumed that I did not like the language. However, over time, I realized I DID like Spanish and Spanish culture – and was even keen on Spanish music at one time. My own compositions were very similar to the Spanish composer Albeniz when I was studying Music at Melbourne University.

The second comment reveals that I seemed to believe it mattered what my voice and accent sounded like. This was written very early on – so I was lucky to be able to pronounce the words at all, so why the worry? Also, if I was that concerned I should have recorded myself, although I would not have been able to correct any mistakes.

This has implications for our language learners. I am now extracting more comments in preparation for a possible presentation at the IATEFL Conference in Harrogate. Watch this space.

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