This is the 3rd and final part in my series on writing for a wider audience. In this final piece I want to look at diaries and how, although more intimate and certainly very authentic pieces of writing, they can still be shared.
From time immemorial diaries have been an obvious genre of writing for use with students. There are many different ways of approaching diary writing from formal work schedules through daily records to very personal commentaries.
A recent development of the diary format can been in the use of Learner Diaries. This is an excellent and personal way for a student to record their learning both in terms of progress and also personal reaction to the process and results. It can be at once a practical and a reflective piece of writing. As such it is highly personal and allows the freedom to be more creative.
In a classroom situation students will share their learner diaries with the teacher and perhaps with each other too. When students are studying alone, it may seem pointless to keep such a diary as there is no one to read it (this is not necessarily a good reason not to write one) and who is going to correct it?
See Nik Peachey’s piece on Learner Diaries
- Firstly, keeping a learner diary just for yourself is a valuable thing to do. You will develop a record of your learning which can be very revealing about your journey through the process and it will help you to develop and progress your skills in the future.
- Secondly, taking into account my previous suggestion in posts 1 and 2 about joining communities online, you can share your diary if you want to. Being an independent learner does not mean being an isolated learner and finding these groups can be part of the e-learning process.
A personal experience of sharing a student’s learner diary.
So, I’d like to share a diary with you which was written by my student (face 2 face) after staying here for a week in the summer. I hadn’t actually asked him to do this as part of the learning (although I do often ask my face to face and online e-learners to do this).
The student is a dentist and we had spent a pretty intensive week on a mix of general English and work on several presentations that he was going to be giving internationally.
When the week was over I realised that I had forgotten to get him to give me an evaluation on the week and some thoughts (which I could publish) on the efficacy of the immersion experience he had spent here in Yorkshire. However, I felt that we had built a good working relationship and that I could ask him for a sentence or two retrospectively.
Imagine my great surprise when the week after the course I began to receive, via email, instalments of his diary that he had written each evening after the day’s work. I was gobsmacked!
It is an amazing piece of writing, full of life and energy and it really captures the week we shared together. When I asked if I could share this on me site he was delighted! I feel so privileged to have been sent this and I feel even more honoured that I am able to share it with you here.
I have made very few changes (although I did go over it thoroughly with him) as I think it it’s ‘raw’ state it has a great deal of energy that I could only spoil.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
I was lucky enough to have others share their experiences in blogs and videos too. Here is a collection of their reflections and another way that students can share their learning experiences with a wider audience.
Part one of the series – Using blogs to help your writing skills, the how, the why and the what
Part two of the series – Getting your voice heard – authentic writing for English language students
Other posts in writing: