Language Journal

Task Objectives & Cultural Engagement Targets: 

  1. To keep a record of target language learning while abroad (Cultural engagement)
  2. To encourage reflection on coping mechanisms that can help one deal with the challenges of language learning in an immersion situation  (Tolerance of ambiguity)
  3. To promote reflection on the sociocultural aspects of language learning (Diversity openness)

Task Description: 

Students keep track of daily experiences as they strive to acquire the local language (in both structured and unstructured settings).  At the end of the program, students review their journal entries, and use them to generate language learning tips for future participants.

Note:  This activity can be incorporated into any program taking place in a location where English is not the standard local language, regardless of whether the program offers any language courses.

Recommended Procedures: 

  1. Pre-departure.  Inform students that journaling will be part of the assessment of this study abroad experience.  If possible, have students generate an initial entry discussing their expectations and concerns with regard to the language learning challenge at hand (in programs requiring online submissions, this pre-departure entry will allow students to become more familiar with the technology involved).  For non-language programs, program directors may want to have the assignment of finding 5-10 words or phrases that participants will likely need during the program, so that a group dictionary can be built.  A subgroup of students can be assigned to investigate pronunciation in the local language and give everyone a lesson at the pre-departure meeting.
  2. Journaling abroad.  During their time at the host site, require students to keep a journal in which they record daily entries of their progress toward established language learning goals. Encourage them to keep track of their target language use, and to comment on any challenges faced along the way.
  3. Teacher feedback.  On a regular basis (for instance, once a week), the instructor will read and comment on students’ journal entries, providing recommendations, suggestions or encouragement (if necessary).
  4. Final reflection.  Towards the end of the program, students review their journal entries and compile a number of suggestions for future participants based on their language learning experiences (something like: “My Top Ten Tips for Learning (name of the local language) in (name of the host site)).
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