I made this because I wanted to give my shy students an opportunity to communicate with me. I also wanted everyone to have an opportunity to write without judgment, without blindly translating sentences for tests, and without fear of making mistakes.
I print out 2 sheets of the lined paper, front and back, and fold them in half for a total of 8 pages per diary. I print the "Let's make mistakes!" poster on the inside of the cover, so the students see it as soon as they open the diary. (The poster was inspired by a poster I saw on Tofugu.com)
Diary rules that have worked well for me:
- It's optional. (I only want the students who are interested in doing this to write)
- You can write about anything you want. Stories, questions for me, worries, grammar/test practice, anything,
- You can write as much as you want. One sentence, one word, one page.
- I correct their mistakes and always write a response. A lot of students love having an English pen pal!
- I collect all of the diaries at the end of the class period (even the students who didn't write) and make them paperclip the diaries closed so that way the students have no way of knowing who wrote. I wanted to eliminate embarrassment. (There was a bad encounter my first year of doing this).
These diaries have been one of the most rewarding experiences for me so far as an ALT. I've learned so much from them, and some students (emphasis on some) have been so excited to write in them.