A Toolbox for all Language Educators
A Toolbox for all Language Educators

Around NYC: keeping a journal

Around NYC: Clue into the target language by keeping a journal

The following activity is specifically designed to bring our city into your classroom and is great for all language levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. One way to get students to start thinking about the resources around them is to ask them to keep a journal of their encounters with the target language.

  • Students keep a record of their encounters with the target language.
  • Students bring their journals and share with a small group.
  • Students choose 1-3 encounters to share with the class.

In NYC, there is (insert language here) all around us. This activity is designed to encourage students to tap into the target language and culture easily accessible in our urban landscape. Our students have the advantage of living in an extremely multicultural city. Their target language exposure need not be limited to the classroom. Over the span of 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month or the entire semester, students are asked to keep a journal of their encounters with the target language around the city.

Students will bring their journals to class and share their experiences in a small group. Students then choose 1-3 discoveries or encounters to share with the class. This will be in English or the target language depending on the level. You can choose to make the assignment ongoing and invite students to share their discoveries in a small group on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

Assignment: Keep a journal (or blog) about your encounters with (French) language and culture outside of the classroom. Your entries will be assessed according to three criteria: that you engage with (French) language and culture in different ways (Variety), that you write at least one entry per week (Frequency), and that you engage meaningfully with media (Take-away).

Learning objectives: Students will learn to: Locate resources, Recognize the wealth of resources around them, Recall impressions and words, Describe their encounters with French, Interpret the value of the encounter, Experiment with new resources and Engage with them.

Providing a grading rubric will help students know what’s expected of them.







Fails to meet


Variety: use of various media (in broad sense of term) IN FRENCH. Ex: Watch: French film, music video, clip; Listen: conversation, music (while reading along with lyrics); Read: Newspaper article, magazine; Speak: with French friend, relative, neighbor, tourist; Look: French painting, art; Try: French cuisine… Engages with multiple media—both language and culture. Makes connections between different media. Engages with multiple media Engages with two or more media Sticks to one source.
Frequency More than once a week Once a week Twice a month Rarely
Take-away: What are your impressions? What did you learn? Understand? Not understand? What new words did you learn? Offers plan for further learning.

Description illustrates engagement. Keeps list of new vocabulary.

Descriptions illustrate engagement. Keeps list of new vocabulary. Brief accounts of activities. Keeps list of new vocabulary.   Passive reception. Does not show evidence of deep engagement.  

By Rebecca Raitses

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *