“Do you have an English notebook?” is one of the first questions I ask new students when they start learning with me.
Why do I ask this question? Because keeping an English notebook is one of the things that will help you most when working to improve your English skills. That’s why we’ve designed a special interactive version for each of our students in EF English Live.
Keeping an English notebook is important for so many reasons but here are six of the biggest:
1. Keep track of new vocabulary as and when you hear it. By paying attention to the world around you, it’s easy to pick up loads of new vocabulary. It might be words or phrases you hear people say, things you see in an English book or even things you look at and think “I wonder what that’s called in English”. If you don’t have a way of recording the thoughts and information as you hear it, chances are you will forget it later.
2. Keep your English notes separate to help you think in English. Do you find it takes you a while to ‘switch’ to English when you start your English lesson? This is because at an advanced level, learners actually start to ‘think’ in English when they are speaking English rather than translating from their own language. Encourage your brain to work this way by only writing in English in your English notebook.
3. Keep your notes organised. Writing on individual pieces of paper is fine until you lose one of them or they get all jumbled up and you can’t find the information you want. Keeping a notebook means all your notes are in one place and you won’t lose any pages.
4. It’s quick!
5. Reflect on what you’ve learned. Look back on new words and phrases to help you understand and remember them. Try making new sentences with the vocabulary when you have some free time on the bus or on the train. The more you refresh words and expressions in your mind, the more likely you are to actually remember them.
6. Expand on your notes. Learning one word at a time is fine but it’s much better to expand on words by adding related prepositions, common collocations and expressions the word is often used with. When you write new words down in your notebook, you can always add a little extra space then come back and fill in related information later when you have time to ask a teacher or do some more research.
Do you keep an English notebook? If so, what was the last thing you wrote in it?