You need this language learning journal!

Apr 22, 2020 | 7 comments

Chances are you are familiar with Taking Route, their podcast, one of the best newsletters ever, and their language learning journal. But maybe you don’t know how Taking Route came to be or the ministry tip they have for each of us. Leave a comment and you will be entered to win their language journal (or win one to gift!). In honor of culture month, we are giving two away! You are going to love the nuggets that Alicia shares in this interview.

Tell us about Taking Route—how did it come about? 

It all started when Denise moved away from the city where we first met and became friends. She went from a city with a growing expat population to a smaller city known for “eating expats alive and spitting them out.” Suffice it to say, the move did not come without its hardships. The greatest of those hardships was loneliness.

Being the extrovert she is (and an enneagram 8 who advocates for the needs of others), Denise strongly desired to create an online community for all expats around the globe–no matter what line of work brought them overseas–who might be feeling isolated as well. 

Today, Taking Route is a wonderful online community filled with hundreds of articles written for expats, by expats. Our writing team has grown from two to THIRTEEN, with writers spread across the globe. One of our favorite places to interact with our community is on Instagram. We like to keep things real, honest, and encouraging. We also create the occasional expat meme for good measure. 

In the past two years alone, we’ve launched a podcast, started a supportive community group, and created a separate Instagram account specifically for TCK parents

What are your hopes for Taking Route? What are some of the blessings and challenges you’ve experienced over the years?

We want to be a supportive community for expats around the globe, and we accomplish this goal through our personal stories and our shared experiences. At its core, we want this space to help others feel seen, understood, encouraged and loved. Most importantly, we want you to believe, in the deepest part of your soul, that you are not alone.

We have some exciting things in store for 2020, and we’re looking forward to how the Lord will continue to use Taking Route to encourage and equip expat women living around the world. One of the greatest (and most frequent) comments we receive is, “Thank you for providing a community where others get it.” After all these years, our original purpose for starting this community is still being fulfilled.

The challenge comes when we can’t out-write our experience (a word of advice I once heard  Jen Wilkin say). There are a lot of topics people have requested for us to have on our blog and podcast–-all of which are valid and real and needed. The problem comes when we don’t have personal experience to be able to write or speak on the topic. In those times, we just put it down before the Lord and ask Him to guide us to the people and resources that can best address the topics to which we don’t have the experience to speak.

We also want to make sure we aren’t pouring all of our time into our online community at the expense of our in-person community. We want to serve an authentic life at home, too. We want to flourish well in the life God has given us–-and that doesn’t always mean being super happy. Sometimes that comes with suffering. But that’s when the Taking Route community can serve one another by knitting together with other believers and encouraging others to hold fast to Jesus.

What have you ladies learned starting and running TR?

We’ve learned a lot about loving our followers as opposed to leveraging them. It can be tempting to get all tangled up in the stats and numbers and algorithms when it comes to running an online community. 

However, those stats represent image bearers-–each and every number. They are not a herd. They are individual people, real people with real faces. They are all worthy and valuable.

When we’re loving people, we’re thinking thoughtfully about our work and how we promote it. 

People know what they want, but they don’t always know what they need.

When we share content, whether through writing or chatting on the podcast, we try to come from a place of processing instead of from a place of “having it all figured out.” I think it’s helpful to know, so others don’t feel alone. We’re always in process, and we’re always going to be growing and changing.

Global Trellis’ focus in April is culture. And you have an amazing language learning resource the One Word at a Time language learning notebook. How did the idea for it come about? What is the resource, who could benefit from it, and where can they get it?

I’m not sure what everyone else’s notebook looks like after a language lesson, but mine was always a mess. I scribbled down words as I heard them, in no particular order. By the time I was finished, I never wanted to look at the page again. It was just too overwhelming. 

I searched the internet for the type of language learning notebook I wanted, but I couldn’t find anything. Since I wanted a better solution badly enough, I decided to make my own notebook. It’s a very helpful resource for anyone learning a language–no matter where you are in your learning journey. You might find you don’t need all of the pages provided. However, the great part about this notebook is that it’s currently only available as a PDF version, so you can customize it to fit your needs.

Inside, on the very first page, you have a chance to write down your WHY for learning a language. This is good to keep reading out loud to yourself, especially on difficult days, as a reminder of why you are doing all this work in the first place. Then you can write your goal for the upcoming year. Monthly, weekly, and daily goals found throughout the notebook will help you achieve your big goal with small, achievable goals.  

Lesson pages will help keep your notes more organized, allowing you to write new words down according to what type of word it is. If it’s a phrase, there’s a spot for that as well. There is also space for writing extra notes and language homework.

And because you might learn 50 new words each lesson, we’ve included a page where you pick up to ten words you’d like to focus on and memorize. I mean, sure, you might have learned the word for “elk” or “tambourine,” but are those the most important words you need to be committing to memory with your precious brain space? Probably not. 

For those who really want to help a word stick, we’ve made “word study” pages. And because it was requested enough, we’ve included a language learning time tracker, graph paper, and a designated spot to write down all the verbs (plus all those fun conjugations).

You can get your own copy buy heading to our online shop!

We are so excited we’re able to provide this resource to our community. I’ve been able to try it out in my own language classes, and it has significantly improved my motivation to learn the language. In the beginning, learning a new language feels like you’re drinking from a fire hydrant. This notebook is here to help you feel less overwhelmed, and to remind you that you’ll get there–one word at a time. 

Alicia, thanks for sharing. It’s great to learn more about Taking Route and about the language learning journal and other shenanigans you Taking Route ladies are up to!

Alicia Boyce

Writer. Mom to four. Expat in SE Asia. Enneagram nine.




  1. Linda

    This would be the perfect place to organize all the Russian words on my dresser—-scraps of paper with words and phrases I don’t want to forget!

    • Amy Young

      I still find scraps of paper and little cards with Chinese in pockets, bags, and drawers :).

    • Alicia

      Yes! I write words down all over the place. It’s nice to have a landing place for all of them 😉

  2. Paulette

    Alicia, it was very encouraging to hear your heart about loving your followers and creating a space where we can believe we are not alone. I joined the Taking Route community group recently, and will check out the podcast soon!

    “I’m not sure what everyone else’s notebook looks like after a language lesson, but mine was always a mess. I scribbled down words as I heard them, in no particular order. By the time I was finished, I never wanted to look at the page again. It was just too overwhelming.”

    Yes! This totally describes my language/culture notebook (all 7 of them, that is). I’ve often felt that if I were simply more organized, I would already be fluent.

    Do you mind my asking what language/languages you learned/are learning?

    • Alicia

      So glad you’ve joined the community! We’re glad to have you 🙂 I’m learning the Indonesian language. Just recently had a language interview to determine what level I’m currently at — so we shall see!

  3. Paulette

    Thank you, Alicia! Hope you have found out your language interview results by now and are excited about how far Jesus has brought you in your learning journey already. Keep up the hard work!


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