Why to Write a Journal?

We often encourage our students to write a journal, but what does a journal writing entail?, what benefits can it bring?, what benefits can it bring?
The virtues of journal writing and keeping are connected to creative, professional, personal and spiritual development. There are a lot of benefits.

According to Jennifer Moon, “a journal is a friend that is always a comfort. In bad moments I write, and usually end up feeling better. It reflects back to me things that I can learn about myself. It represents a private space in my life, a beautiful solitude, the moments before I go to sleep just to stop and note what ‘there’ is about the day or about my life at the time. I think that it has enabled me to feel deeper and more established as a person, more in control and more trusting of life.

Some of the students don’t see themselves doing such a thing or they think that writing a journal is a waste of time.
I suggest convincing your students to take into consideration this idea because a journal is a very important thing, a way to learn a foreign language. I believe that it’s a good idea for teachers, too. This procedure may even have a name, “the learning journal”.

The idea is very simple. The journal can be a notebook, some papers, an audio tape, a file on the personal computer. The students have to write their experiences, to analyse their actions, to reflect on some ideas, to record events over a period of time. In this way the pieces of paper become a tool for self discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate ideas, a good friend and a confident. But the most important thing about this journal is the fact that it is an aid to the professional development of the students. They think before writing, they analyse their ideas because they have to write in a foreign language. That’s way the process is not so easy, but complex.

So, the benefits are various.

First of all, it is a way to remember the events and the actions.

Secondly, the act of putting pen on a piece of paper or finger to keyboard engages the brain. The students have to think before writing: “Why do I do this?”, “Why did that happen to me?”, How do I solve the situation?.” In this way, the teacher encourages the students to reflect and to take decisions.

Thirdly, it isn’t just that writing a journal stimulates thought – it allows them to look at themselves, their feelings and their actions in a different way and it gives them the opportunity to analyse their thoughts, their way of writing and their way ok expressing themselves.

Fourth, writing things down in a journal also allows them to ‘clear their minds’. Having made a note of something they can put them on one side for consideration or action at a later point. They can only handle so much at any one moment. Trying to remember this or that, and deal with current situations, can sometimes mean that they are not focusing on what they need to. As Mary Louise Holly again puts it, ‘The journal offers a way to sort out the multitude of demands and interactions and to highlight the most important ones’.

Last, and certainly not least, making journal writing part of their routine means that they do actually take time out to reflect on what might be happening in their practice and in their lives generally. And all these reflections have to be in English (other foreign language). In this way, your students practice thinking, speaking (why not?) and writing.

From this the students can see that writing and keeping a journal holds the possibility of deepening their self-understanding, and to making added sense of their lives and what they believe. It can also help them to entertain, contain and channel troubling emotions and gain perspective. They may also develop a greater awareness of daily life and of the foreign language they use; they become more alive to what is happening to, and around them. At a practical level, writing and keeping a journal can both help them with administrative tasks (like reporting what happened, when and why) and with the process of setting goals and managing our time and priorities.

Taking into consideration Holly’s thoughts I may say that this type of journal is a reconstruction of experience with objective and subjective dimensions: beyond recording events, thoughts and feelings, the students can also analyse what they have already written there. And they even have to use a different language to express all these events, feelings and thoughts. In this way, the journal becomes a working document, and not a simple notebook.

All journal writing must involve learning at some level. Our interest here is to highlight the processes of reflection and self understanding and to emphasize the use of a foreign language when learning becomes a specific focus – as is the case in ‘learning journals’.  For Jennifer Moon such a journal is “an accumulation of material that is mainly based on the writer’s processes of reflection” and it is written over a period of time, not in “one go”.

Bibliography:
books.google.ro/books, Holly, Mary Louise,  Keeping a professional journal
books.google.ro/books, Moon, Jennifer A., Learning journals: a handbook for academics, students and professional

 

 

prof. Gabriela Udrea

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/gabriela.udrea

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