Foreign language teachers and professionals have long known that short of practicing your speaking skills with a native speaker, writing in a foreign language is one of the best ways to strengthen your speaking abilities as well as your overall language level. The cost of Hebrew speaking lessons adds up over time and can often lack structure. In contrast to reading and listening, writing in a foreign language is an active exercise, like speaking, which forces you to find the necessary words and formulate them into a sentence. Moreover, writing in a foreign language is a form of practice that requires no partner.
However, before the advent of pro tablets with pens, writing in a foreign language was often a cumbersome exercise, especially if you wanted to use an online article as your base. A desk cluttered with crumpled up paper, a notebook full of scratched out or erased words, and always having to look up at your computer screen or over at your printed article, transformed a useful exercise into a headache.
Thanks to products like Apple’s Ipad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro writing in a foreign language has become more feasible, convenient, and accessible than ever before. As part of my own daily language training regimen, I use a Microsoft Surface Pro and the Notes app to practice my foreign language writing skills, and in turn, strengthen my speaking abilities. Below are my five tips for using a tablet to improve your foreign language writing and speaking skills:
- Find an article containing words and phrases that can be applied to everyday life and put it side-by-side with your notetaking app. You can also use a Hebrew clip on YouTube instead of an article that is also an excellent way to do this exercise. I recommend כאן חדשות for news, פודי for food, and Top Geek for movies/entertainment.
- Start writing words and phrases that stand out to you and that you can see yourself speaking.
- Try not to write isolated words but instead use the article or video as a base for how to use a word in its proper context or in a sentence
- Set a timer. As with any exercise, writing in a foreign language with no end in sight can burn you out. Use your device’s stopwatch app to limit the amount of time you write. I recommend 10 to 20 minutes and then call it a day.
- Don’t get hung up on bad handwriting. The beauty of writing on a tablet is that it’s easy to erase your mistakes but moreover, you’re not wasting any paper and no one has to see what you’ve written. No matter how bad your handwriting may be at first, just continue to write so that you get the most out of the exercise.