ESL journaling tips

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on December 27, 2021

As an English learner, one of the things you can do to improve your writing skills is to start journaling in English. Writing down words and phrases is one of the best ways to learn a new language. Journaling can encourage you to write in English on a daily basis, and help you enhance your vocabulary.

How to get started

To start journaling in English, you only need to have a vocabulary of about 100 words. Start off with simple sentences and write as much as you can. Don’t worry about grammar or verb conjugations. Use the words that you are familiar with.

Once you finish your journaling session, go back and make corrections to your text. You can use Google translate or a dictionary to assist you in the editing process. If you have a fluent teacher, tutor, or friend, you can ask them to highlight the mistakes in your journal entries. After your proofreader points out your errors, you can spend some time correcting them.

writing in a journal

Continue reading books, articles, and text in English to expand your vocabulary. Once you have developed a greater vocabulary and an understanding of sentence structures, you will find yourself able to write more complex and in-depth sentences.

Journaling topics

With a journal, you do not need to record private, intimate details of your life, like you would with a diary. You can write about different topics; your journal entries don’t have to revolve around the same themes or ideas. You can jot down conversations you heard, the weather, your job, your daily routine, what happened in the news, fictional stories, how you felt the day before, or even what you ate for lunch.


Journaling does not require many materials, just a pen and a notebook will suffice. That being said, you might enjoy journaling more if you decorate your pages and write with different coloured pens. In that case, you can buy a variety of washi tape, gel pens, brush pens (which you can use for highlighting, colouring, and hand lettering), markers, and stickers to use for decoration.

journaling materials

While studies suggest writing by hand improves memory retention, if you prefer typing, you also have the option of typing your daily journal entries on MS Word, Google Doc, or any other word processor.

Benefits of journaling

There are many benefits of journaling in English. It can help English language learners develop proficiency over time, and you will be able to see your progress over several months of journaling.

Journaling can help you keep your thoughts organized. Carry your journal around, and write down new ideas wherever you go.

As well, journaling can be therapeutic, as it can strengthen your immune system and help your injuries heal faster. Long-term emotional pain can increase the body’s stress hormone (cortisol levels). Cortisol hinders the immune system, and journaling about concerns or medical issues (like biopsies) can reduce cortisol levels.

Other journaling health benefits include:

  • Mood improvement
  • Reducing symptoms of depression
  • Better understanding of your emotions
  • Stress management
  • Enhancing your overall well-being

Lastly, journaling inspires creativity. Even with its mental, physical, and English learning benefits, journaling ultimately helps you express yourself in a healthy way, and be a more creative person overall. Happy journaling!

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