The 2nd Language Journal

Learning a foreign tongue is an immense endeavor – fine-tuning one’s understanding of nuances, intonation, idioms and grammar can take years, and achieving fluency requires utmost commitment. The sad irony is that what takes years to attain can rust and fade away within months if not practiced.

Former expats and travelers alike face the challenge of retaining their foreign language skills while back in their native land; watching all that hard-earned knowledge trickle away is the worst kind of tragedy. There are a lot of ways to keep up: dining frequently at restaurants where employees speak the language, doing language exchanges or chatting with friends of that nationality, watching television from the country, etc.

Being here in Madison, which has a relatively homogeneous population of the paler variety, it can be tough to keep my Korean polished. As a budding journalist and writer, I felt I needed to make practicing the language a more personal and creative experience rather than simply going over old textbooks. Similarly, I wanted to take my journals beyond their normal chickenscratch and make something more artistic to look back on – mesh the two ideas, et voila, the Korean Practice Journal.

Though I’ve only started yesterday, I envision good things for this project. I want to use the book as a place to break down news articles I come across, write down unfamiliar vocabulary, translate Korean poetry and generally reflect upon my life in the Korean language.

I view learning a language as going beyond simple communication and really making the words your own – to imbue meaning in them through experience and exposure, through thinking in that language. Hopefully this journal will help me reach that higher level of understanding, and will allow me a new outlet for expression.

I’m curious about other inventive methods of retaining a second language – readers?


5 Responses to “The 2nd Language Journal”

  1. 1 pam July 10, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Hey, don’t overlook the sheer aesthetics of that journal. It looks like it might evolve to be – in addition to being useful – freakin’ gorgeous.

  2. 2 dailytransit July 10, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks a lot pam – I’m happy with the way it’s turning out, and I’m looking forward to creating something more artistic than I normally take time to do.

    By the way, I listened to the podcast you put together with readers talking about “home.” Really great stuff – I loved the one with the Czech national anthem. Thanks for pointing me to that!

  3. 3 phill July 10, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    reading this:
    a) makes me feel fortunate that i grew up speaking another language at home and having my parents make sure that i retain it.


    b) makes me feel somewhat embarrassed that i no longer use the language and can now feel the repercussions of my neglect upon meeting individuals like you [or “my peoples”]

    however, this [as well as our conversation last week] is motivation for me to “start” again…

  4. 4 David July 18, 2007 at 8:13 am

    I don’t think anything “rusts away” in a few months, that isn’t practiced.

    Just stay with the narrow and what you feel right. You will be balancing the bike and that feeling will last long after the conscious thought of something being lost, fades….All things done with worth and hard, for however momentary, will alway remain. Seek this endeavours.

    Great endeavour and we need more wordsmiths, just for the sound of it….


  1. 1 Around The Web On TEFL: July 12 - TEFL News, Trackback on July 12, 2007 at 12:28 am
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