Free Language Class: Make Your Own

Free Language Class

Free Language Class: Make Your Own

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Free Language Class: Notebooks

Welcome to the 5-Week Linguist show. I wanted to talk about notebooks today. So, I’m a little bit obsessed with notebooks, I will confess. And I think that anybody who is a teacher out there, you will be able to relate. I love mole skin. I love Paperchase. I love Decomposition books. Check those out if you haven’t had a chance. They’re made from recycled paper and they’ve got this great artwork in them. I like big notebooks. I like small notebooks. It’s a great tool for learning. And I wanted to talk about some basically free ways for you to use this notebook, apart from buying a notebook or getting a notebook, to learn a language.

Today I want to talk about five different ways that you can learn a language using a notebook. Now, you will also need something like your phone, or your textbook, or whatever materials you’re using. And you’ll need that for your input. So, your phone could be, if you do maybe an app and you’re writing down words from there, or you have a book that you study it with on Kindle, or you do reading, if you have the […] app, someplace where you’re getting your input. Right?

Free Language Class: Tasks

The first way is a task notebook. And I can’t tell you how valuable these are. So, tasks are a language learner’s best friends. So, they’re learning how to do specific things in language, not just waiting for that input, which is good. That’s really how we learn is through input. But it’s through being really deliberate and learning how to do certain things in a language. And a task can be as simple as taking leave, right, saying goodbye. Really simple, saying yes or no, agreeing or disagreeing, all the way up and beyond being a doctor who gives a medical diagnosis or understanding a medical diagnosis, if you’re the patient. So, tasks are all about doing things. So, centering your language, learning around tasks. And a notebook, have a special notebook for this. And you’ll need more than one for sure, but learning a task.

Free Language Class: Travel and Beginners

And one place that I really like to start for absolute beginners is with language for travel and beginners. And I love this language for travel and beginners because think of a phrase book. It’s similar to that. So, it’s all language that’s going to help you survive and communicate. You’re not going to get into grammar. You’re not going to get into vocab lists or anything like that. It’s really just getting around a different context. Right? Being able to eat, right, getting food at a restaurant or at a store, or being able to change money, that kind of stuff.

I would write down all the words and phrases that I need to be able to complete that task. And you can even write cultural notes. So, for example, at the top, task, giving my taxi driver directions. And you can write down all the words and phrases. And all the vocabulary is going to be served up to you in meaningful chunks, which is really important. Right? You’re not going to learn separate words. You’re going to learn words that are going to get you communicating really quickly.

You could have, as you start, a notebook for travel and beginners. As you move into the intermediate, or the B range, you’re going to start creating with language. So, your task notebooks might look a little bit more like chunks to help you describe a process, or speak in paragraph length discourse about something that happened in the past, or describing experiences that you’ve had or experiences that you have every day, your daily routines, with a lot of accuracy. And, as you become really advanced, it might be some chunks of really advanced structures, so perhaps offering someone condolences or chunks of language to give a formal speech. Right? That would be very advanced. And I’ll link to my book of tasks.

Free Language Class: Columns

The next way to use the notebook is vocabulary columns. And this is a really rote, focused way to learn a set of words, maybe ten to 15 a week, really quickly. And what you do is you write down the ten to 15 words and phrases you’re going to learn for the task in the target language. And then, in the next column, you write down their translations. Right? And you want to study those. And then, you fold over the target language and you have your native language and you try to recall those, this is hard, in the new language. And then, unfold the paper and study what you didn’t get. Study it. Fold it over again and try to recognize it in your own language working off of the target language. Do that a few times and you’ll learn a set of words.

Have one of those for ten or 15 words a week and do a new one every week for a new task. So, for example, meeting and greeting or checking into a hotel, it’s all this language that has lots of overlaps, lots of chunks. You’ll be competent in no time. I’ll leave some chunks for you, some links for chunks.

Free Language Class: Goldlist

The next method that I want to talk about is the Goldlist method. And I dream of sitting at a table and doing the Goldlist method a little bit every day. But my life isn’t conducive to that. Lydia Machova speaks like nine languages, I think. And she is a huge proponent of this very simple method that also involves a notebook. And you do something similar to the vocabulary columns, but take the intensity out of it. And you just keep reviewing those words. And she’ll show you the notebooks. And the idea is that you’re probably only going to recall 30% of them. And you keep recycling the ones that you didn’t know until you know them. And so, they just keep transferring over. And it’s just a simple, easy way, 30 minutes a day to build your skills.

Free Language Courses: Journals

The next way is for fluency journals. And I absolutely love these. Take a topic, a task, so let’s say talking about your family or describing your dream home, whatever it is you’re studying, go back to those tasks that I’ll linked to here in the episode. Set a timer and write as much as you can about it. Don’t use any aids. When the timer is up, go back and fill in the gaps of what you didn’t know. Look up what you didn’t know. Do this a couple of times a week even. You’ll be stunned at progress by the end of a notebook. And you’ll be able to write for longer and longer periods of time.

And the last way that I want to talk about using notebooks, all the work that we did before, right, so thinking in terms of tasks, right, learning a different task that builds on each task until we build into fluency, doing something that helps us learn words and phrases, so the vocabulary columns and/or the Goldlist method, whatever works for you, moving into fluency journals, as you have really incorporated and learned all those words and phrases and they start working together, use all of these as speaking prompts.

I really like to take what I’ve learned and to make either bullet point out where I talk or bullet point out what I would need to have a transaction with another person. So, renting an apartment, let’s just say, I bullet point out the things I would need to talk about. And I either have this conversation with another person who is learning or my italki teacher. Right? Use this as preparation to talk to my italki teacher, prompts. Or use this to talk to myself, which I think is probably one of the most… you can count on yourself, right? One of the most realistic speaking partners and speaking practice that you can get is yourself. Right? You’re never away from yourself. So, take your phone, take the things you bullet point it out and talk. Do it as often as you can, but I would say at least once a week. And you will be stunned at your progress.

Do you use notebooks in different ways to learn languages? I’d love to hear about them. Until next time.

Thank you for listening to the 5-Week Linguist show with Janina Klimas. Join us each week here and visit us at for more resources for learning and teaching languages.

Fluency Journals

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