Now that you have learnt about setting your language goals in part 1 it is time to design a tracker to boost your progress. This is where bullet journalling comes in. The basic idea of a bullet journal, or bujo, is to create a journal that includes colours, drawings and other design elements to make your notes visually attractive and stand out from your classic school books. I have spent many hours flicking through pictures on Instagram and Pinterest and thinking how amazing they looked. That is when I decided to find a way of bringing them into my language learning. And so, the idea of my monthly tracker was born!
Each month, as part of Clear the List (a link up for language learners to share their goals), I design a tracker that I fill in each day to record what goals I am working towards.. Doing this has meant that I am a lot more focused in my learning and complete a few small activities each day, resulting in a huge boost to my overall progress. Now I want to give you the tricks so you can use it yourself.
Step 1 – Set your goals
As I mentioned in the previous post, the first step is choosing your goals. Each month I sit down, decide what I want to achieve and choose four goals to work towards. I have tried lots of different approaches and four is the magic number for. Challenging but still achievable. I would suggest that you start with four and then if you want more of a challenge next month, add some extra ones in. I usually split these four into two easy and two difficult. That way, even if life gets crazy and I don’t get everything finished I still have a fighting chance of completing the easy ones. It is all about staying positive and being able to see your progress.
I would highly recommend that you share your progress with the Clear the List community. The language learning community is bigger than you would think and having other learners to give you words of encouragement and support is invaluable. It is also a good way of feeling accountable as you will want to share your successes with your new language friends. It really is a win win situation!
Step 2 – Get Inspired
Now it is time to get inspired. I tend to use Pinterest as the imagery is really great and it is easy to create a board and pin everything I find interesting. I then open the board and use it as a reference when trying to come up with new designs.
Try and find a style you like in other people’s journals that you can use as a basis for your own. There are no rules here, just try anything. You will be making a new one next month so it is the perfect opportunity to just let your creativity run wild. I personally love symmetry and simplicity so most of my designs follow this theme in some way. Although, just like my language activities, I like to mix up my trackers to keep them interesting.
Remember, this tracker is something you are using to learn something each day and make progress with your new language so don’t worry about what it looks like. Unless you want to, no one else needs to see it. Just have some fun!
Step 3 – Plan your page
Now you are inspired it is time to plan your page. There goes the planner in me again! Most bujos are made on dotted pads as they use this grid as a reference for creating the different design elements; helping to keep things neat and proportioned. While this is great I find that kind of investment isn’t necessary and can actually put some people off even giving it a try.
My solution is to print grids and have them underneath my page to help me while I am drawing them. Here is a link to a website that has a large range of free guide pages you can download and print. That way all your need is some plain paper and you can get started. Cheap and easy.
My designs tend to follow two main types. The first is a single icon or image that includes four sections (one for each goal) which I then repeat for each day in the month. The second is dividing the whole page into four clear areas and then creating individual boxes/zones for each day. Whichever option I choose I always add some colour or pattern to represent each goal so when it is complete I have a visual cue to which goals I did really well and others that I need to review for next time.
Here are some examples of my trackers and how I designed them.
July – Hexagonal Tessellation
I started by using my grid to create a grid of hexagons that tessellated across the page. I then divided each hexagon into four sections which I filled in with the colour assigned to each goal (shown shaded behind the drawings). Then, in each corner of the page, I drew a picture with a title to represent each goal.
August – Diamond Grid
Here, I continued with the theme of geometric but chose something a lot more simplified and removed all the drawings. I drew a diamond in the centre of the page and then divided it into four area, each containing 31 sections for each day. To make it a little different I tested out using cross hatching when colouring the squares to create a pattern. I really liked the herringbone effect and thought this would be an interesting way of incorporating it into my design. Sometimes it is as much about how you colour in the boxes in how it will make the end design look. As my focus was solely on Spanish I also wrote all the titles in Spanish which was different.
September 2018 – Geometric Calligraphy.
With the help of my fiancèe, I have dabbled in calligraphy in some of my trackers. This time I decided to make it the main focus by writing the word “September” as the tracker itself. I then separated it into irregular sections in four different colours to create a gradient effect across the word. The main difference here was I removed the black line safety net I had been using and went full techni-colour. I even bought a new set of mini stabilo pens specifically for the tracker. Always fun to have a little stationery shop, isn’t it?
I hope this helps show how different, and simple, these trackers can be. You can add as much, or as little detail as you like. My main advice is to not worry about creating a masterpiece on your first attempt, as time goes by you will soon find what you like and improve it until you are your very own Da Vinci.
Step 4 – Join the Challenge
One thing that will help you with your language learning is having the support of other learners around you and so that is why I wanted to set up the bullet journal challenge. Simply use the #p2ptrackerchallenge on Instagram and Twitter so that everyone can see your new tracker. I want to a create a community of bujo masters that can help each other inspire others out there to learn languages.
Whether it’s a monthly tracker, daily journal or just language notes, everything is welcome. I will be posting pictures of my trackers as they progress each month, along with new designs and ideas to help give you all some inspiration. I hope you will join me on this journey.
Want any other tips of advice? Let me know in the comments, or send me a message, and I will be happy to help.
Stay tuned for the final installment in this language series where I explain how to turn your difficulties and pitfalls into learning successes.
Ciao for now!