Write more! Making the most of student journals (IATEFL Manchester 2015)

In this presentation I spoke about writing journals with students in a variety of different contexts, including both monolingual and multilingual classrooms. I also talked about my own experience of using a journlal for my Russian learning.

I find journal writing to be a very rewarding process for the students, and I learnt a lot from going through the process myself, including improving my spelling, increasing my vocabulary, and learning more about my teacher. As a teacher, reading my students’ journals was a great way to learn more about them, including their needs as language learners. I’d highly recommend trying it out. 

Here are the slides, including information about what exactly I mean by journal writing and tips on how to set it up. All of the links in the slides are clickable.

There is no commentary on the slides as there is a recorded version of the same talk available from the TOBELTA online conference from August 2014, which you can read more about and watch via this link.

At the start of my presentation
(thanks to David Petrie for taking the photo)

11 thoughts on “Write more! Making the most of student journals (IATEFL Manchester 2015)

  1. It’s the first time I enter to your blog. I find it really interesting. I am an ELT from Chihuahua, Mexico. By the way, would you mind to describe what a A6 notebook is?
    Keep up the good work Sandy!


    1. Thanks for the comment. A4 paper is standard printer sized paper (in most of the world – similar to US letter paper if you don’t have A4). When you fold it in half you get A5 size, and when you fold it in half again you get A6 size, so A6 is 1/4 of the size of A4. Hope that makes sense!


  2. Hi Sandy,

    Really like the sound of this and want to try it out with my the elementary students I’ll be getting on Monday. What I wondered was, if you had any reluctant participants and also how you encouraged them to go out and buy a book. I think a few of the guys may not see the point as the school already provides them with a notebook. Did you ever provide them?


    1. Hi Daisy,
      Thanks for the comment and the questions.
      I actually ended up providing the notebooks to most of my students to get the ball rolling. If the students already have anotebook from school, you could use that: that’s what I did when I first started doing journal writing. I never had any completely reluctant participants, but in lower level classes I often had one or two students who needed more prompting, particularly young Arabic men! I often had to tell them exactly what kind of extra information to write when they still had time left, normally in the form of very leading questions. Having said that, they all wrote something, and I got lots of comments about how useful it was.
      Good luck, and I look forward to reading about how it goes!


      1. Update – so far, although I think eventually I’ll write a whole post. While some students don’t do it at all (unless in class) and others need prompting, a couple of them have really taken to it, giving me their books a few times a week and writing me noteS, such as ‘please give me another topic’ and ‘what can I do to get better?’

        This week, I had one lesson with just one of the students. She’s an architect and tried to write about the difference in buildings between Columbia and Bournemouth, a difficult task at elementary, but one which provided so much material to work on. We focused on missing subjects in phrases. We have another 1:1 lesson tomorrow because it is Mosque day and I’m really looking forward to it!


  3. Hi Sandy,

    I was at IATEFL and saw your talk on this. I just wanted to say, I’ve implemented it with most of my students now, and it’s gone down well. I’m also learning Norwegian, and have started keeping my own writing journal, which my teacher marks and replies to.

    So, thanks for your talk!



  4. Thanks for sharing the webinar recording here Sandy – just to let you know, I have shared it with my Trinity Dip group. We have been focusing on skills development this week and there was no mention of journaling in the articles we read so I thought I would add it in. 🙂


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