This is one of many possibilities how to note your vocabulary. There are also things like flash-cards or apps you may use, but I like this method, because it gives you a greater picture of the words.
The idea is not new. In fact many teachers in english-speaking countries use those journals in order to teach their children new words like technical terms or loanwords from other languages. Down below I integrated some links so you can see how these work.
For my journal I decided to go with a cheap A5 plaid notebook with a margin.
As you will see, I decided that I will need some other notes than students, who already know their language.
So what do I note in my vocab-journal and why?
To make your journal as usefull as possible, you have a variety of things you may write in there. I came up with the following list of things:
- drawing a picture (icons and words do not stick as well to your brain as pictures can. In German we have that saying: A pictures says more than 1000 words…)
- Of course you need your vocab, that you want to learn in both languages, your mother tongue and your target language.
- I also add a place for grammar. I need to note things like gender, adverbial-froms, hints for declination and konjugation and stuff like that. This way I can use the words more easily.
- Right below I note “friends” and “enemies” of the word. What is this about?
Friends are words, which have the same root and therefore work the same way as the original word (a fish and to fish or the fisher)
Enemies are words like false friends (words that sound alike, but do not fit together) or words with similar meaning, but not the exact same meaning so you want to watch out for not mixing them up.
This may be the most important part. By comparing friends and enemies I get a very good impression how the language works and how ideas and words are connected. For example the slovak word for “secret” is “tajomstvo” and the word for “secretary” is “tajomník”, so basically, your secretary is the one who keeps all the secrets. And did you realise that in english you have just the same connection? How great to know! And how much easier to memorize!
There is also a very good movie about decoding and learning from Vera F. Birkenbihl, but it is in German)
- The “last” part is for examples. I note down some sentences and phrases in which the word is used so I have some clue how to use it correctly.
If you want, you may also add some pages, where you bring related words together in a mindmap and note next to it, on which page of your journal you worked on them.This will require that you number all your pages in the journal, but there are some out there, which have this already done for you.
Some people also like to note, where they first “met” the new word. So you could use the column to write down the titel of the book you read, when you came across the word or the name of your language-partner, with whom you talked about it first, the internet-adress or songtitle you worked on in that moment or even the date and class you participated.
To learn with it you may either just keep using those words over and over again or reading your journal. But it also helps, when you use some post-its/sticky-notes or gluing additional paper down to cover the parts that are written in your mother-tongue or target language so you will have think hard about the translation before you check it out.
On the left side you see them done seperately for more individual learning and on the right side I just did a big block to cover the enemies. The longer I work with them, I prefer the left side more and more. But you just have to try it.
This helps during repetition and you can put more information on one page. On the other hand this method thickens your notebook and takes some extra time to build. But you can also colorcode (e.g. red for enemies and green for friends) and make your journal “prettier” with some fancy paper.
You may also just print out a picture instead of drawing one.
Sites where you get free templates and additional information
Last but not least the links to the sites that gave me information and inspiration:
- A teacher from Arizona posted some free template.
- Another teacher of 3-graders with lots of experience posted an example for a power-point-version of an entry.
- A third very creative outlook of a free printable template is from the notebooking-fairy Jimmie from Florida – she even offers three different layouts.