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miércoles, 13 de febrero de 2013

Learning Journal


Language learning journal

The notebook is perhaps the most thought of and used thing in a classroom by all students. Every time you know you will be attending a new course, one of the first things you will think of is to take a notebook. It doesn't matter if you use it or not, almost everyone takes a notebook for writing down things that come up during the class.

These notebooks are usually organized by class sequence in that notes are written in the same order that the student has attended class. So, if a course starts with vocabulary about the house, then school and finally the grammar of the simple present, the notes will follow the same order and sequence (house, school, simple present grammar).

However, is this a valid sequence for language class notes?

Clearly there is validity keeping notes in the same order as the class sequence because the student develps a chronological system of how he or she has learned the language. On the other hand, the chronological system does not guarantee that all of the skils needed to learn a language will be developed because the notes will be dependent on the class sequence which in turn is dependent on the teacher. If the teacher decides to omit reading and writing, then the student will never develop these skills.

The Importance of a Language Learning Journal

A learning journal is different to a traditional notebook in that it does not necessarily evolve in relation to the class sequence and it has a predetermined structure for each skill needed to learn a language.

There is, then, a section of vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing and so on. New things are added to each section as the student decides to explore and learn more things. Also, by clearly marking the sections to be learned, it becomes obvious in which section the student knows a lot and in which less. This way more time can be dedicated to strengthening weak points in a clear and direct manner.

Level 6 Language Learning Journal

Level 6 students are required to keep a learning journal in which they register as much as possible of their language experience throughout the course. While the teacher does require students to add specific activities to each section of the journal, students mainly have total freedom to explore as much or as little as they want.


Journal Sections

  1. Learning Strategies
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Grammar
  4. Reading Report
  5. Writing Activities
  6. TOEFL Activities
  7. Journal

Additional Resources


Learning Strategies

Learning a language goes beyond simple memorization of words and rules. The complexity of how language is used requires that learners use a much more ample spectrum of skills and resources in order to successfully communicate in the target language.

For this purpose, steps to follow, procedures or, more precisely, strategies are needed to guarantee that comprehension goes from short to long term. There can be strategies for learning vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking, listening and the list goes on and on. Basically, any sequence of steps one follows to efficiently learn something is a strategy and in this first section we register all of the major strategies we know and use.


Vocabulary

Words are a fundamental part of any language; if one does not know the name of things, then one cannot communicate or understand ideas.

We might think that to establish communication long and complex grammar structures are needed, but the truth of the matter is that something as simple as "water, please?", which has no grammar, is as successful as the grammatical structure "Are you so kind as to give me some water, please?"

The more words and phrases one can learn, the faster one can understand and communicate ideas and also break down the grammar. In the vocabulary section we register all new words we learn and also those we know and want to reinforce.


Grammar

Grammar is not the most important element of a language, but it does have its place. By having a good notion of the grammar, we will be able to construct and deconstruct any idea we come across either in speech or reading. It also helps us to get a glimpse into how the language has been organized into categories throughout and as a result what the perspective of the culture is (e.i., the English speaking culture).

illuminating worksheets and explanations are the ones you want to include in this section. Through time, you will build your very own personalized grammar book which will always clear things up for you because they activities are your number one selections of easy and complex grammar points.


Reading Report

When learning a new language, we normally focus on listening and speaking but reading is the lost skills that is worth rescuing. The benefit of reading is that we can exercise a whole range of skills with a simple paragraph. To successfully comprehend a text we must use our general knowledge of the world, personal experiences, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and how everything associates.

An alternative to studying grammar, for example, is to read short paragraphs. An alternative to doing isolated pronunciation practices is to read a short paragraph out loud several times. An alternative to memorizing vocabulary words is to read short paragraphs which include the desired words. There can be many more functions to reading short texts. Reading, in a sense, requires a complete application of language skills.

Reading reports help us to keep track of a short or long reading we might be doing at any moment. On the one hand, to do a reading report we must read as many times necessary a short text; and on the other hand, we must write what we have understood. This double activity, reading for comprehension and writing a synthesis, is a great way to flex our comprehension muscles.


Writing Activities

Writing is one of the activities we leave towards the end and that very few people actually develop. It is true that simple supermarket lists, reminder notes or simple e-mails qualify as writing but these are mainly a reproduction of what we speak. The true essence of writing lies in presenting ideas in an organized way and developing them accordingly.

One of the most powerful reasons to learn how to properly write is that it helps us to mentally better organize our ideas and in turn develop a deeper understanding of how the language works from sentence to paragraph level.

In the Writing Activities section we include all of the writing attempts and drafts done along side of any feedback that highlight weak points. By registering these attempts and feedback, we can gradually improve and become more precise at writing what we truly want to say.


TOEFL Activities

At different times we are faced with having to do a language test. TOEFL, or test, Activities is the section where you register all of the activities done to become a good test taker.

Because tests tend to evaluate your knowledge of the language, the grammar activities you do are a good resource to strengthen your test taking skills. Additionally, completing worksheets for international tests like TOEFL and TOIC add valuable points to your test taking preparation.


Journal

It is difficult to say that any one section of the Learning Journal is more important than any other, but the journal section does have a particular value to the whole process. The journal section is where the learner freely registers his or her thoughts on the learning experience. The journal is basically a dairy and as such we want to take note of things like motivational levels, self-esteem, what has been easy/difficult, and any other things that might be relevant to the learning experience.

This telling of the environment we are in is a way of connecting all of the other sections of the Learning Journal. Just by writing short entries into the journal, the learner becomes highly aware on his or her strong and weak points as well as what has to be done to balance out the entire learning experience.

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