Language learning in Notion: how I keep all my notes

Last Friday I talked about how to learn a language without going to classes. I told you my seven best tips from personal experience for language learning by yourself. Learning a new language can be overwhelming, so it’s important to keep organised. I use Notion to keep all my Spanish notes in one place. Today I will show you how practical language learning in Notion can be.

What is Notion?

For those of you who are not yet familiar with Notion: Notion is an application for all your productivity needs. You don’t need all those different apps anymore once you use Notion, because it allows you to keep all your notes in one place. You can easily organise all your projects, databases, notes, to do’s and more.

Notion works with different blocks. You can create a heading, a to-do list, text, a database or a calendar. You just need to type a slash to see all the different blocks that you can choose from. Moving the blocks around is easy and you can do it at any time to create the perfect setup for you.

To get started, it can be useful to use templates of other people. This way you learn to adjust them and work with Notion. By doing this, you will be able to create your own awesome templates in no time.

Language learning in Notion: how I do it

Learning a new language is not a small task, so it’s good to have all your notes in one place. This way you can easily access the information that you need and you stay motivated to learn.

My language learning hub consists of five types of pages:

  • Language learning hub. This is my overview page where I can see all the notes at a glance.
  • Verb conjugations. Each irregular verb or ending has a page where I wrote down all the tenses.
  • Vocabulary lists. These pages have all the new vocabulary I learn including a translation to my native language.
  • Grammar. Simple pages with some notes on a specific grammatical topic.
  • Tenses. Each tense has its own page where I wrote down when to use the tense and how it works.

Besides these types of pages, I also have ‘the big tenses overview page’. On this page I combined the information of the verb conjugations and tenses, because I needed more overview. (Spanish tenses are hard and there are many!)

I will show you for each page how I set it up and how it works.

My language learning hub

My page called Español is my language learning hub. Here I have a good overview over all my notes and from here I can access everything easily.

Elements on this page and how to make them

  • I added a cover image from my library, chose an emoji that I liked and added the title ‘español’ to my page.
  • For the quote in the beginning I copied the block from another template I used. I just changed the emoji and text. It reads: a little progress every day adds up to big results.
  • I created the titles by typing /heading 2. Then I selected my title and chose ‘mark as code’. Afterwards, I changed the colour to yellow.
  • You get the dividers by simply typing /divider.
  • Most categories are toggles. You type /toggle list and it appears. When you click on the little triangle, you open the toggle and you can add more elements (more on that below).
  • The list of verbs and the big tenses overview are pages. You create them by typing /page.

Track your progress

I love lists and I love to track things. It’s great to see progress and I feel accomplished every time I can check something off. I made a progress tracker for the checkpoints I pass on Duolingo as well as for the chapters I completed from my book. 

On the right side of the image, you see what it looks like when you open a toggle. In the toggle tenses you can see all the different pages I created; one for each tense I learned.

Language learning in Notion: verb conjugations

Above you can see an example what my verb conjugation pages look like. I created an inline database to keep an overview over all the tenses. How I set it up:

  • The first column consists of the personal pronouns.
  • The following columns have all the different tenses I learned. They’re simple text columns with the type of tense as the title and the conjugations in the column.
  • For the irregular verbs I marked in orange where the verb is irregular. So if the irregular verb follows the rules of the regular verbs in a specific tense, it’s in black. If it’s irregular, it’s orange. This way I can see at a glance for which tenses the verbs are irregular.

I created three categories for my verb conjugations:

  • Regular verbs. For Spanish there are three different ones: -ar, -er and -ir endings.
  • Semi regular verbs. In Spanish some verbs have vowel changes in certain tenses or for certain personal pronouns, so that’s why I called them semi regular. For example e>ie or e>i.
  • Irregular verbs. The ones that don’t fall in any of the previous categories.

Vocabulary lists and grammar

In my Spanish coursebook for self study each chapter has a vocabulary list. Once I finish the chapter, I check the list and create my own in Notion. I write down the vocabulary that’s new to me or that I don’t have 100% clear. If I know a word by heart already, I don’t put it in the list anymore.

Pro-tip: you can also create flashcards in Notion. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet, but I would love to make those, because they’re great for practicing. Here’s a tutorial on flashcards.

I also create pages for specific grammatical topics from the book. They’re just basic pages with some notes on there, but they’re practical to review grammatical topics.

Language learning in Notion: the tenses

For each tense that I’m learning in Spanish, I create a separate page. I write down when to use the tense and how to conjugate the tense. You can see an example of that for the regular verbs in the image above. Below that I always create another inline database for the irregular verbs. If a verb is irregular in the specific tense, I create a new column in my database and conjugate it. This way I have everything I need to know about a tense on one page.

The big tenses overview

As you could see throughout my setup, I have two way of approaching tenses and verbs:

  1. Divided into regular, semi-regular and irregular verbs. Per verb I write down all the tenses.
  2. Divided into tenses. Per tense I explain how to conjugate it and note down the irregular verbs.

Yet, I still felt like I didn’t have a good overview. I thought it would be great to have all the explanations for the tenses on one single pages as well as examples for each tense. This way it’s really easy to compare the tenses and see the differences. I created a toggle for each tense: when I open the toggle, I can read when to use this tense and I have some examples in there too. Below, in yellow, I added another example, so I can always see them and easily check which tense I should use.

Pro-tip: use the same verb for all your examples, so you can easily compare. I also translated each example into my native language, so it’s easier to see when to use which tense.

Next Friday ☾

I hope this entry can inspire you and help you to set up your own Notion for language learning. I love it, because it’s easy to keep all your notes in one place and the possibilities are almost endless. And next Friday? It’s time for another Day Zero Project update – it’ll already be the end of month 17 of my project.

Which new language are you learning or would you like to learn?

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