It kind of breaks my heart that I only found Lynda Barry’s journaling model after my transition into full-time corporate translation, but nonetheless I’m glad I found it at all. The conceit is simple: you fill your diary with things you did, things you saw, things you overheard, and some doodles. Here’s Barry’s template:
As an avid journaler myself (my private online blog has been going since 2003!), this idea of breaking through the cruft of the daily grind to capture moments of presence really appeals to me. To quote directly:
What goes into your diary are things that you noticed when you became present—that is to say when the hamster wheel of thoughts and plans and worries stopped long enough for you to notice where you were and what was going on around you.
It goes without saying that this journaling model makes for an excellent EFL instructional tool as well. It seems that Barry includes drawings because this is an assignment for a comics class she teaches; in other words, it’s an activity that was designed with visual artists in mind. EFL students who aren’t so artistically inclined might prefer a different activity, maybe one like listing three things that they learned that day (the question my mother would ask me and my brother at dinner most days, and the reminder she gives us now and again as adults: “Don’t forget to learn three new things today!”). With younger learners it might also be fun to make it into a senses diary: three things you saw, three things you heard, three things you smelled, three things you touched, and three things you tasted.
Hat tip to The Englishist, one of my favorite teacher blogs to follow, for linking to this activity.