Last September I decided to give bullet journaling a try after feeling incredibly disorganised and inconsistent with the languages I’m learning. Just passively listening to the language isn’t enough on its own. When I first came across it, I thought it was a cool idea but didn’t think more of it. It wasn’t until hearing from others in my life and online how bullet journaling has actually helped bring back a sense of control with their goals and habits. Now, I understand that there are many people who actually to be more spontaneous with the way they go about language learning, but at some point I just a method that’s specifically my own.
Without further ado….
What Is A Bullet Journal?
It’s using a journal such as a Moleskine or Leuchtturm or just an ordinary notebook with all your task that need to get done on daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis. Depending on how you decide on to how to approach your own style of bullet journal. I’ve noticed that each bullet journal usually has a key with certain symbols representing how important a task is, what needs to be further researched, deadlines, appointments and so much more. Or in the creator Ryder Caroll’s own words:
The Bullet Journal is a customisable and forgiving organisation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.
Is that great? I love when a system allows for customisation and is forgiving if you can’t always do it on a daily basis. What I like about this system is that it adds a layer of accountability to your language studies. If you constantly put something do in your target language, you have to do it. For example, I’m always writing spend at least 30 minutes to 1 hour learning Finnish/Japanese/German/Catalan in my bullet journal to remind myself to do it. I could do a weekly or even monthly tracker where I could check in where I’m at and what needs to be improved. It can also reveal where you’re spending a lot of your time doing or not doing.
How Can I Effectively Make Use of the Bullet Journal in My Language Learning?
Creating trackers for your pronunciation has improved, new vocabulary and phrases learned from content relevant to you, how much input (reading and listening) and output (speaking and writing) you are getting in daily/weekly/monthly, and so on and so forth. Another option is to categorise what you need to learn by topic and then colour-code each theme so that way you can reference it easier. You could even use it to track your progress during a language challenge. Such as the italki challenge or #IGLC hosted by Lindsay Does Languages or one you created yourself. I’m in the middle of creating one myself at the moment but I can’t reveal it until I have put it all together and then I will announce in a separate blog post.
I would highly recommend check out the hashtags related to bullet journaling on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other social media sites. This resource can be useful if you have no idea where to start: Bullet Journal Hashtags.
The main idea here is to be consistent with what you plan and keep doing what’s on your list. Create a key that will bring forth the results you want rather than learning a bunch of useless information. Think about what is necessary for your language journey and works for YOU personally.
Think about what you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Describe all of it in your target language. What do you want to express but don’t know how to approach saying it in your target language? Examine what you can already say and go from there. What level are you at and what level do you want to be at? Can you discuss any of the following:
– Your job/career
-How To (Cook/Write/Draw/Plant a Garden/etc)
-Religion or Spirituality (if applicable)
-Your daily life
– Opinions about specific topics in depth.
– Explanation of a subject studied or something you’re passionate about.
If you said “Yes” to all of the following, that’s a good sign. If you only said “yes” to only a few of them, maybe this is something to consider improving on. Granted, only if it’s relevant to your life. For example: If you’re learning science related vocabulary and you have no interest in science nor taking a class or having something to do with science then, why are you learning it, to begin with? Remove the uselessness and bring back the relevance to learning your new language(s).
What Are The Benefits of Using A Bullet Journal To Learn Languages?
- It’s flexible: It allows your language method to be as fluid and changing as your journey to fluency is.
- It keeps you accountable: When you’re using trackers, spreads and writing on your to-do list, it’s visually reminding you to do it. Especially if you’ve created a monthly check-in spread (which I would recommend doing each month), you can only fill it in if you’ve actually put forward the effort into spreading time with your target language. Accountability is crucial for getting the results you want by seeing what you are ACTUALLY doing and not what you think you are doing.
- Organisation: It keeps you organised and not just in your personal life. It will create consistency with your language learning goals so that you can reach your fluency goals.
- Great for long term language goals: You can keep track of your progress and you gradually become fluent. It breaks down fluency into actionable steps. It also has the potential show you where you need to go, what plateaus you are currently facing (as well as bad habits)
- Inspires action through productivity: When you can visually see what needs to get done and take the steps necessary to ensure the results you want. Break learning goals down step-by-step can be what makes fluency become a daily achievable task. Rather than a vague unattainable concept when it’s actually having an action-plan of attack and knowing what you want to get out of learning your new language. Something I am constantly striving to do better at and it wasn’t until I came to the realisation that disorganisation was actually a plateau in itself stopping me from making progress.
What do you think? Do you own a bullet journal? Does this idea have your interest piqued? I’d love to hear from you! If you have any recommended spreads to use for learning languages, feel free to share!