There are few skills more impressive than being able to easily switch between different languages in conversation. But learning a new language isn’t just impressive, it’s a valuable tool for learning more about other parts of the world, understanding different cultures, and communicating in places where your home language isn’t widely spoken.
English speakers can benefit from learning the basics of a new language before travelling. Spanish, for instance, is spoken in many Central and South American countries, while French is spoken in some Central and North African countries.
In the corporate world, Mandarin and Arabic are both growing in their importance as businesses expand in China and the Middle East.
For those of us passionate about journaling, a blank notebook or journal might seem to be a natural fit for learning a new language. This was the case for Becky (@koenpo_ on Instagram), an accounting graduate from Mexico who started learning new languages in her spare time as a hobby.
"I'm from Mexico, so my native language is Spanish. I speak (to a certain extent) English and Portuguese. I started taking seriously my English studies back in 2013, two years later, I added Portuguese and Korean to my list.
And almost three years ago, I decided to start learning Mandarin Chinese and Turkish," Becky told The Washi Tape Shop.
This interest in learning new languages developed into a passion for Becky: “After graduating, my schedule was practically free, so I focused all my attention on languages.
Then, I noticed my interest to learn different languages increased (especially those that aren't really "common" around me) and started learning them. After a short period of time, they became part of my day-to-day life, and now they're part of who I am.”
Using a journal to track her learning progress, Becky found that journaling has become a “useful tool to organize my activities and goals for each language throughout these years”.
Journal enthusiasts cite improved organization and the ability for one to use their journal as a means of creative expression among the benefits of journaling, and Becky found that the ability to track her progress is especially helpful: “I'm the type of person who really enjoy to track everything, so having a journal have helped a lot!
Being able to see all the progress and the work I put in learning languages at one glance gives me a lot of motivation.”
Aspiring polyglots may find some of Becky’s go-to spreads especially useful. Using a monthly tracker, Becky says that she “marked everyday what activities I did in its respective language divided in study, active learning and passive learning”.
She also uses weekly trackers and spreads, and a monthly statistics spread to monitor how much time she has spent learning each language. Her spreads and trackers, enhanced by graphs and the use of color, show how journaling is useful for those learning new skills, and new languages in particular.
Learning a new language is difficult, and everyone will not find that the same techniques. Journaling, however, is adaptable and allows different learning methods to be used, or at least, different tracking systems to be adopted to monitor one’s progress.
While challenges are inevitable when working towards any big goal, the benefit of journaling is that it helps you to stay on track when your goal seems out of reach.
In the end, the effort invested in learning a new language unlocks the ability to communicate with new people and engage with different cultures.
Perhaps most of all, the true benefit of learning a new language is found in community and friendship, as Becky told The Washi Tape Shop: “Getting to know other countries' culture, new people, make friends, being warmly welcomed in the language community have played a big role in this as well.”
Thank you to Becky for contributing to this blog post and for providing the images used above. Be sure to follow her on Instagram here.