Dialogue Journals: A Way to Personalize Communication in a Foreign Language


  • Debra Popkin

    1. Baruch College, CUNY
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      Debra Popkin (Ph.D., Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Romance Languages at Baruch College (CUNY), and Project Director of the Dartmouth Intensive Language Model at Baruch College; New York, NY


ABSTRACT Student journals have been widely used to encourage self-expression in elementary school classes and in English as well as ESL courses at the secondary and university levels. In an effort to individualize (eaching, foreign language instructors can also use journals to carry on a continuous dialogue with each student. The instructor writes comments about the topic that the individual student has chosen and also corrects vocabulary, grammatical, and idiomatic errors after each journal entry. These “dialogue journals” are ideal for personalizing communication in foreign language courses and can be used on elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. This article explains how to implement “dialogue journals” in a typical second-semester French class, where, with the help of a diary, students can apply recently acquired grammatical structures and idioms to express their own concerns and interests. Students gain self-confidence and freedom of expression by writing informally about topics that are of personal interest to them. The journals are a perfect supplement to the artificial dialogues and standardized reading passages of many foreign language textbooks. Practical guidelines for journal assignments are provided, and sample journal entries illustrate how successful the results can be.