If you are learning a language – any language – writing in your target language is so important.
It is often incredibly overlooked and many language learners focus only on the other pillars of language learning (reading, listening, and speaking), forgetting writing almost entirely.
However, writing in a foreign language is very valuable. It has numerous benefits that should not be disregarded. Plus, writing is just an easy and fun way to practice, as long as you have the right prompts and strategies!
Keep reading to learn more about why it is so beneficial, how exactly you can incorporate it into your life today, and to find 50+ writing prompts and other, fun writing resources!
P.S – While you are thinking about how to work writing into your language studies, be sure to put a good bit of focus on reading, as well!!
Why should we write in our target language at all?
Language learners often ask “why is writing in a foreign language important?”.
This always surprises me, as there are almost unlimited benefits to writing in your target language!
When you learn a language just by reading or listening, you are only ever receiving information (i.e input) – you are not producing anything on your own. It can be quite passive to learn in these ways.
When you learn with speaking, it is more active and you are producing your own thoughts and spoken words (i.e output), but it isnt enough. Not on its own, at least!
Adding another form of output, like writing, is very helpful. It allows your brain to not only remember and retain the information you learn better, but also trains your brain to use the language better and quicker than ever before.
It is important to always try to maintain an even level in the four pillars of language learning, when at all possible. It’s not ideal to be extremely proficient in reading, and yet unable to hold a conversation or write more than a few sentences. It is equally undesirable to be able to fluently speak on any topic, and yet unable to listen to natives very well.
The biggest benefit of learning all four of the pillars equally is that learning things visually and audibly and then forming what you have learned into speech and writing combines three of the four VARK learning styles. This means that you are giving your brain a really great chance to grab onto any information you learn and correctly recall it in the future.
Don’t forget that writing is a form of communication, too! Communication is necessary in this world and if you cannot properly communicate in your target language, you have got quite a big problem. You cannot always revert to only speaking, sometimes writing in your target language is necessary. If you have never practiced writing, however, you will not be able to preform when needed.
Here are even more benefits to writing in a foreign language at a quick glance:
– You have a hard copy of all of your language progress
– Writing helps you prepare for speaking and improves your speaking level (here is a study from St. Cloud State University!)
– It connects the spatial part of your brain with the verbal and you will learn and recall what you write much better (here is a great article from Lifehack with more info)
– Writing is less time-constrained than speaking (usually) and so you have time to correctly form your ideas on paper and even look up topics, if needed (think speaking in slow motion)
– It is an easy way to produce something and get feedback and corrections from native speakers
– Most language exams test for writing proficiency – you are ahead of the game when you practice now
– If you choose to journal in your TL, you get a multitude of benefits such as recording precious memories, a boost in creativity and self confidence, and so much more (read about that from Kaiser Permanente here!)
How often should we write in our target language?
As often as you can spare!
If you can manage, writing in your target language every single day will bring amazing benefits to your language learning!
Even just writing a few minutes a day will lead to a habit in no time (roughly 66 days, on average, to be exact!) and this will impact your language studies very positively.
However, if you cannot spare a few minutes every day, or if you are just starting out and not a fan (yet) of writing, even just a few minutes a week will start to help you!
Just be sure to set aside a proper time in your planner and/or language routine (read about how to make a great language study plan here!) and try to stick to it!
The main goal, however, is to just begin. You can form a habit with time and you can always increase your writing time later, once you start to find it fun and clearly see the benefits in your life!
The more time you can spare and the more you invest in your language learning, though, the better!
What should we be writing in our target language?
The best part about writing is that you are in charge. You get to decide what you write and how you write it.
You might choose to write a paragraph or two on a funny prompt every day, or perhaps you keep a small diary. Or maybe you want to write an essay a week about new technology. Maybe you really love celebrities and just want to write mini biographies about your favorites every other day!
The world (of writing) is your oyster.
I gathered 50 great prompts below that you can use for some inspiration, but you can also check out writing challenges, as well!
One of my all-time favorite language challenges and the one I would like to spotlight on this post is the NaNoWriMo language challenge!
If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, here is the official website. Basically, its where you take all of November to write as much as you can! Hence the name: National Novel Writing Month.
The goal behind this language spun NaNoWriMo challenge is to write 200 words (always of the same story) in your TL every day. At the end, you should have a 6000 word story in your target language!
Check out the specifics in the image below:
As seen, the challenge above is clearly a BIG one. Ideal for B2 learners and up.
If you are not yet ready for this or just prefer short, single prompts, no worries! You can check out the challenge post for more ideas, or just check out the list below for some great and easy foreign language writing prompts 🙂
50 Foreign Language Prompt ideas!
This range (roughly) from easiest to hardest to write about, based on your language level.
You can choose a random one each day, only choose the ones you like, work through them in order, etc. Its all up to you. You can even choose to just let this inspire you and make up your own prompts each day!
- Write a self-introduction! Name, age, nationality, etc.
- Describe your family and/or friends! Physically, personality-wise, hobbies, etc
- What is your morning routine?
- What is your nighttime routine?
- Write a recap of your day
- Write a shopping list and explain what it is for
- Make a date idea! Where would you go, what would you eat and do, etc.
- Describe a room in your house! What objects are there, where and how are they laying, etc.
- Give directions to someone! To your home, fav hangout, a good restaurant in town, etc
- Describe a piece of art in your home / a museum / in public
- Find a person in public (that you DONT know) and create a backstory for them
- Write down your favorite recipe
- Recap your favorite vacation
- Explain your favorite hobby in detail
- Write a book/TV/movie/app/site review
- Create a mini biography about someone who interests you
- Explain your biggest goal(s) in life
- Create a S.M.A.R.T goal plan to achieve your goal(s)
- Write a how-to guide on something! Creating a flower wreath, sewing something, making food, etc.
- Explain your job or school studies in detail
- Write about a specific tradition you love in your culture
- Write about a specific tradition in another culture that you love
- Write about and explain your favorite sport
- Summarize a book/TV/movie/etc
- Write about a childhood memory in detail
- Why are you studying your target language(s)?
- What is your least and most favorite part of your target language(s)?
- What is your least and most favorite part of your native language?
- Why should we learn languages at all? Argue your opinion
- Write about your greatest personal fear
- Write about your greatest hope for the world
- If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be and why?
- Do you believe in fate? Why or why not?
- Who is your greatest role model and why?
- Describe a recent dream you had
- Describe a recent nightmare you had
- What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? In 20 years?
- Describe yourself as you would in a professional interview! What are your strengths, weaknesses, etc.
- What is your favorite piece of work (literary, media, etc) and what has it taught you?
- Write a rhyming poem about something that ignites your passion
- Explain what you think the world will be like in 1,000 years
- Describe an invention you would love to see one day
- Summarize a recent political event
- Write about why you support or do not support your country’s current leader
- Describe what you think is a very important world problem today
- If you could change one thing about society, what would it be and why?
- What is your opinion on a random hot topic and WHY? Such as global warming, women’s rights, etc.
- Argue and debate your stance on a hot topic! Try to write more professional than in 47, as if you are writing a speech.
- Write about a topic or new find in an academic field you love!
- Summarize a global academic theory or discovery of the past! Such as Newton and gravity or Copernicus and the sun, etc.
My favorite stationery supplies for writing! + Guided journals!
Guided journals (in English, but you can, of course, write your answers in any language you choose!)
- This Year I Will…: A 52-Week Guided Journal to Achieve Your Goals (pictured above!)
- The 100-Day Goal Journal: Accomplish What Matters to You (pictured above!)
- Five-Minute Journal
- One Question a Day: A Five-Year Journal: A Personal Time Capsule
- Soul Therapy: A 365 Day Guided Journal
- Do it For Yourself: Guided Goal Journal
- A Year of Zen: A 52-Week Guided Journal
- No Worries: A Guided Journal to Help Calm Anxiety, Relieve Stress, and Practice Positive Thinking
- Present, Not Perfect Guided Journal
- Find Your F*cking Happy (Zen as F*ck Journals)
- The Reboot Journal – Habit Journal
- 52 Week Scripture, Devotional & Guided Prayer Journal
- Prayer Journal For Women: 52 Weeks
- My Prayer Journal: A 3 Month Guide To Prayer, Praise and Thanks
- The Book of Me, 2nd Edition (Autobiographical Journal)
- 5-Minute Daily Writing Prompts: 501 Prompts to Unleash Creativity and Spark Inspiration
- 99 Non-Lame Journaling Prompts for Teens
- One Poem a Day: A Writer’s Daily Journal of Words & Inspiration
- 5,000 WRITING PROMPTS: A Master List of Plot Ideas, Creative Exercises, and More
- Would You Rather: Daily Writing Prompts for Children
- Unjournaling: Daily writing exercises that are NOT introspective NOT personal NOT boring (This one is pretty challenging if you are anything but near fluent in your TL!)
- Legend Planner: Deluxe Weekly & Monthly Life Planner (pictured above!)
- Goal Crazy Undated Planner: A 90 Day Guided Journal (pictured above!)
- Pursuit Goal Journal (pictured above!)
- Clever Fox 1 Year Planner (pictured above!)
- The Power Place 6 Months 24 Hour Planner Agenda (pictured above!)
- Scribbles That Matter Bullet Dotted Journal – 160gsm (pictured above – my personal favorite! The pages are thick, the customer service is amazing, it lays flat, and is very high quality!)
- Moleskin Classic Notebook
- PAPERAGE Lined Journal Notebook
- Dingbats Lined Notebook
Extra stationery supplies (not at all necessary, but can make studying more fun, in my opinion!)
- Zebra Mildliner – Double Ended Highlighters (pictured above – my favorite colored pens!)
- Muji Gel Ink Ball Point Pen, Black, 0.38mm (the best fine-tipped ball point pens ever!)
- 40 Slim Rolls (Rainbow Colors) Washi Tape Set
- Knaid 40 Rolls of Slim Washi Tape (Earthy Tones) Set
General tips for writing in a foreign language:
– Start small! Make writing a habit first and foremost. Taking micro steps towards a large goal is a very easy and attainable way to achieve that goal with time. It is perfectly fine to start writing just a few minutes a day. It is better than not writing at all and a step towards your goal is still a step, even if it is a small one!
– Choose your writing strategy. Will you write freely without a dictionary or any help? Or perhaps you will write very correctly, with a dictionary and phrasebook in hand? Maybe you will write freely and then go back and self-correct! You could also write freely and then pass it to a friend or tandem language partner to correct for you. Yet another option is to brainstorm words, phrases, and grammar topics before and then write freely after, using what you brainstormed earlier! As mentioned before, the world is your oyster. You can choose what route works best for your personality and your learning style.
– Try to challenge yourself! At least every once in a while. It can be very easy to get into a habit of writing a journal every day and just keeping it simple. However, I challenge you to challenge yourself to keep pushing! Write more, write about advanced topics, write longer pieces, etc. Don’t become complacent with any of your language skills. You will never grow if you do not push yourself.
– Shake it up! If you want to learn your target language as best as possible, you need to prepare for a wide array of scenarios in which you would use your language. Do not just write romantic poems and expect this to greatly help you speak, read, and listen in real-life. It will certainly help you, but if you branch out sometimes, this will help you so much more. Try to hit a different topic each time you write, if possible. Perhaps one day, write about something scientific. Then something political and perhaps something fantastical next. Write poems and letters and short stories and essays! Try to write casual and professional. The more you write about, the more and the better you learn.
I hope this helps and I hope you feel ready to start writing in your target language today!
Let us know below in the comments if you have any fun prompt ideas to practice with 🙂
Don’t forget to check out my language learning printables on Etsy! 🙂
- The 20 Best Products on Amazon for Spanish Learners!
- 50 Amazing Reasons to Learn a Language Now!
- The 20 Best Products on Amazon for Korean Learners!
- Why You NEED A Kindle for Language Learning! [Tips + Tricks]
- 50 Amazing Quotes About Language Learning [With Phone Wallpapers!]
Let’s be friends! 🙂