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Writing in a journal is a great way to practice learning a foreign language in your own time. It’s a core part of our study and something we do every day when studying a language.
But sometimes, it’s hard to know what to write. If you describe what you did the previous day, you might find yourself getting repetitive quickly. I ate breakfast, then I went to work… snore.
So what we suggest instead is writing prompts.
We’ve put together a list below of interesting foreign language writing prompts to help you get in the habit of journaling in a new language.
To help you organize it better, we’ve split this list up into language proficiency levels. However, you can use these prompts no matter what your level. For example, if you’re an advanced learner, you can still use the beginning and intermediate topics to go into more detail or use more complicated sentence structures and vocabulary when writing your entries.
If you’re just getting started, check out our complete guide on how to start a language journal. We answer FAQs and tips on how to incorporate journal writing into your foreign language studies.
Foreign Language Journal Starter Kit
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Foreign Language Writing Prompts for Beginners
1. Introduce yourself
Share some information about yourself. What is your name? Where are you from? What language are you learning?
2. What are your hobbies?
What do you like to do in your free time? When did you become interested in your hobby? What do you like about it? Are there any hobbies you want to start?
3. What is your morning routine?
What time do you wake up? What do you do first? Do you have breakfast? What do you eat?
4. Describe where you live.
Talk about your city, state, and/or country. What is the culture like? Do you like living there or would you prefer to live somewhere else?
5. What do you like to eat / drink?
What is your favorite food? What is your favorite meal of the day? Why? Are there any foods you don’t like? Do you prefer savory foods or sweet foods?
6. What is your favorite holiday?
Why do you like it? How does it make you feel around this time? Do you do anything to prepare for it? What is your least favorite holiday?
7. Talk about weekend plans
What are your plans this weekend? Alternatively, you can also talk about what you did the past weekend. What is your ideal weekend?
8. Reading or watching TV
Do you prefer to read or watch tv? Why? What is your favorite book or TV show? What is your favorite genre of book or tv show?
9. Describe someone you admire
This could be someone you know personally or someone you have never met. How do you know them? What are they like? What qualities about them do you admire?
10. Extroverts vs Introverts
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Alternatively, are you a little bit of both? Do you enjoy being around one or the other? Are there times you wish you were more of an extrovert or an introvert?
Foreign Language Writing Prompts for Intermediate Learners
11. What was your favorite trip or vacation?
This prompt helps practice the past tense. What did you like about it? What were the people like? How was it different from where you’re from? What was the food like?
12. Is there a trip you’ve been dreaming of taking?
This gives some conditional tense and future tense practice. Is there somewhere you have always wanted to go or a trip you’ve always wanted to take? Do you have plans on taking that trip? If the answer is no, what are the obstacles preventing you?
13. What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
What do you want your ideal life to look like? What are you doing to move closer to your dreams? Have you accomplished some of them? How have these ideals and dreams changed over time?
14. Write Instructions on your favorite activity
This is good for practicing the imperative tense (if this exists in your target language). Write an how-to on something you know how to do very well.
15. Why did you decide to learn your target language?
Why did you choose the language you’re learning now? What spurred you to start learning it? What are benefits of knowing another language? Are there other languages you’d like to learn in the future?
16. Write a to-do list
Make a list of things you need to get done this week. Knock two birds with one stone by planning out your week and studying a foreign language.
17. Do you prefer to talk on the phone or text?
Are there situations where it’s better to talk on the phone or text? Which method do you use most frequently? What are the drawbacks to texting or talking on the phone?
18. Are you influenced by advertising?
Is there a product you bought recently that was influenced by an ad? Which advertising forms are the most persuasive to you – commercial, social media, targeted ads like on facebook and google, etc…
19. What was the happiest moment in your life?
Tell a story about your happiest moment. Who are the people involved? What was the sequence of events? Why was this moment so special?
20. When did you last have a great conversation?
Who was it with? What was the topic? What makes a great conversation?
21. Would you ever live in another country?
If yes, where would you want to live? What would be the benefits? What aspects do you think would be difficult? If not why not?
22. Do you care about what you wear?
Are you interested in fashion? Do you prefer to be comfortable or to look your best? Do you think what you wear reflects your personality?
23. Do you prefer to be in nature in a big city?
What do you like about nature and the outdoors or a big city? What are some disadvantages? Is there a certain place you like the most?
24. What are your biggest fears?
Do you think they have held you back in life? How have you tried to overcome them?
25. How do you manage stress and anxiety?
Do you cope well or badly under stress? When do you feel the most stressed? Do you have any strategies for managing stress? Are there any activities you do that helps minimize stress or anxiety?
26. What are your pet peeves?
What are some things that really annoy you? Is it something that is generally annoying to everyone or do you think it annoys you more than it annoys others? Are there certain types of people or personalities that you find annoying?
27. What are the pros and cons of social media?
What are the ways social media has made our life better and worse? How does it impact individuals? What is your opinion? Do you think social media is good or bad?
Foreign Language Writing Prompts for Advanced Learners
28. What was your upbringing like?
What do you wish your parents did differently when raising you? What were some things they did that you’re thankful for? What is your relationship with your parents?
29. How concerned are you about climate change?
Do you try to reduce your impact on the environment? What do you do? What do you think the world can do to conserve the environment.
30. What are your political views?
Do you have a party affiliation? How do your values influence your political views? Do you think your party is going in the right direction? What would you like to see changed or improved?
31. Is it a good idea to discuss politics with friends and family?
What are the pros and cons of bringing up controversial topics with loved ones? Do you participate or bring up these topics at gatherings?
32. Imagine you are a wealthy philanthropist. What cause would you support?
Do you support any causes now? Do you think charitable giving is important? What are ways you can give back even if you don’t have many financial resources?
33. Talk about the state of racism today.
Do you think the issue of racism is improving or getting worse? What events and examples can you think of that support your point of view.
34. How important is spirituality in your life?
Does religion play an important role in your life? Are you spiritual? Has that changed in your life over time?
35. Is education or experience more important in a job?
How important is a college or advanced degree education? Do you think people with degrees are the most qualified people for jobs?
Free Resources To Correct Your Writing
You will get the most out of journaling if you get your passages corrected as much as possible. The good news is, there are many websites and apps out there where you can get corrections from native speakers for free.
It’s best to get sentences proofread as much as possible, but you may find that this requirement makes you journal less frequently. If you’re finding this is to be the case, then aim to get corrections just once a week, or some other frequency that doesn’t impact your journaling routine.
Speechling is an app that aims to make it easy and affordable to learn another language. It’s mostly a “sentence bank” app that teaches you a language one sentence at a time.
But that Speechling also has human tutors who can correct sentences that you send to them. It’s a function called “Freestyle mode” where you can say what you want and get corrections on pronunciation and grammar. They usually send you a correction within a few hours.
The best way to get a sentence corrected is to ask a native speaker.
The italki platform is a marketplace of online teachers in many languages. You see teachers plus an intro video, reviews, ratings, price, and availability.
See here for more tips on using online language tutors effectively.
On italki, you can either set up a lesson with a teacher for as little as $5 an hour, and easily under $10. It’s really easy to set one up in pretty much any language with just a day’s notice — or less.
Or you can use the italki community forum to submit journal entries and get them corrected.
Get $5 in italki credits — enough for a trial class!
Get a tutor online for as little as $4/lesson from italki with $5 in credits after your first purchase of $20 of credits.
Finally, HiNative is a great place to ask questions and get them answered by (usually) native speakers.
You can also search for sentence fragments. Often, someone will have already asked a similar question, avoiding you having to submit anything (to date, we haven’t).
More Foreign Language Writing Prompt Ideas
Want to keep a daily journal or want more topic ideas? Here are more resources
- Reddit: Reddit is a social, news, content, and discussion website. Content is all user generated and there are hundreds of thousands of communities, referred to as subreddits.
- r/AskReddit: In this subreddit, users ask questions that are often thought provoking, imaginative, or just silly. These questions are a great source to pull potential journal topics. Note, some topics are nsfw (not safe for work), and these topics always tagged accordingly.
- r/TowerOfBabylon: This community is dedicated to people who are studying a new language and wanting to improve their writing skills. The group is open to all levels. Every couple weeks, users submit a prompt for the community to contribute to.
- New York Times Writing Prompts: The New York Times has a list of topics and over 1000 writing prompts for teaching and learning. The list is mostly aimed at students, but many topics can be applied to people of all ages. You can also sign up to receive writing prompts weekly.
- Daring to Live Fully: This blog post has over 100 journal topics that are more focused on internal reflection and mindfulness. Different structures range from creating lists, reflecting on quotes, and writing letters.