Entries Tagged as 'Student Life Hacks'

If you are troubled by English…

Sometimes when learning a language, or anything new, we can get so wrapped up in pushing ahead and learning more.  More vocabulary, less frequent verb tenses, the exact translation of a phrase, or figuring out why they use this preposition over that!

If this sound like you, take a moment to relax.

As you relax, think about the early days when you were too timid to utter a sentence.  What are some of the things you learned in your first class?  What are some things you and your first English speaking friend talked about?

My point is that you should take some time and revisit the basics.  You might benefit by realizing how far you have come in your studies.  You might build your confidence by mastering those grammar points that seemed so confusing last year.  You might even find that there, within the first pages of your notebook, or on page 6 of your 400-page textbook, is the answer you’ve been looking for all along.

7 tips to brush up on your English after a long break

Somehow I doubt you’ve been studying all summer.  Losing track of your studies can happen to all of us.  Just make sure that you don’t lose any progress that you made before you went on break.  Here are some ways to brush up before the next semester:

  1. Organize last semester’s paperwork.  In doing so, review all your most recent class notes.
  2. When reviewing your notes, highlight and research what you may have forgotten.
  3. Visit some ESL websites and practice with online activities.
  4. Download English songs, and listen to them actively.  Sing along if you have to!
  5. Call your English speaking friends and ask them out to lunch or coffee.  I really mean call them – don’t just text.
  6. Rent all those movies you wanted to see this summer, but never did.  Practice listening independently – without subtitles.
  7. Try to obtain a copy of the new syllabus for the upcoming semester.  Even if the teacher hasn’t written a new one, a syllabus from a previous semester will give you some insight into what you will be working on.

In order to maximize your effectiveness in English communication, find a balance between verbal communicative English (speaking and listening) and the written word (reading, writing, texting, or clicking), and you’ll be up to speed in no time.

What learning style are you?

Do you learn best when information is presented visually, when someone explains information, or when you try something hands-on?

Take the quiz here (click on “Take the inventory”) or read summaries about the different styles.

January 5th is Make Plans Day!

It has been 5 days since the New Year began.  How many resolutions have you broken?  Don’t worry!  That’s why I invented Make Plans Day – the optimistic version of New Year’s Resolutions.

Resolutions take time, and if you work through some time management today, you’re more likely to keep those promises of saving money, losing weight, and being more active.  It’s January 5th, and you (by you I mean I) have already eaten too many sweets, been to the gym once, and watched more TV than you’d hoped.  Today is the day to plan your life so you can keep those resolutions.

You might have also noticed that stylistically, planning is more closely related to the future tense.  I’m planning to has a close meaning to I will or I’m going to.   When you make plans, you’re designing the route of action you will take.  Resolving to do something is closer to the hope or desire to do something.  I resolve to is more similar to I hope to.

I’ve always thought that resolutions are really just a fun way of putting goals on paper, but who (besides me) wants to spend their vacation filling out a calendar?  You’ve had 5 days to recover from a long break.  Now, it’s time to buckle down and make some plans!

The Sticky-Note Fallacy (or How To Get Organized: A 3-Step Process)

You have everything written down, so you’ll remember…is what you tell yourself.

But in reality, everything is on a sticky note.  What that really means is every piece of information that you thought was important enough to write down is scattered around on different walls, computers, rooms, papers, and books.  The truth is, you’re really not keeping track of anything with this sticky note strategy.

This 3 step process might help you learn how to get and stay organized.  Take as long as you need to learn and do each step correctly.

  1. At the end of each day, put all your sticky notes in one notebook that you look at every day.  Do this for 7 days in a row until you have developed the habit.
  2. Copy what you wrote on your sticky notes into the notebook.  Every day.  This is when you can start prioritizing your notes.  Put the most important tasks closer to the top.  Once you copy everything, throw the sticky notes away.  Do this for 7 consecutive days.
  3. After you have completed step 2, you should begin to tire of writing everything twice.  Instead of writing on sticky notes and transferring the information daily, eliminate the sticky notes altogether, and just write in the notebook.

Becoming organized is a process, but you will see that your new organization strategy will be useful to you.  It is a highly sought after skill in the workforce and in middle, high school, and college.  It takes a little time to save a lot of time.

Tip for Tuesday: Pre-writing Reference Lists

If you take a lot of classes in the same general field (such as education or anatomy), you may quickly realize that you are using the same materials for different assignments.

To make your life easier, type up a reference list of all of the materials you use on a regular basis on a word document and save it where you can easily retrieve it.  When you use a reference from that list, you can copy and paste the reference from that document instead of retyping, reformatting, and punctuating the author, year, title and publisher.

I use this technique, and I can tell you, it has saved me so much time…especially at the end of an assignment when all I want is to finish and submit it!

I hope this life hack helps you, too!

Hoping for B’s?

What Seth Godin says about goals in this post can be applied to language students.It reminds me of something I wrote a while back about letting or making language happen. Both posts refer to the choices you are making now and their future impact on you.

  • Did you sign up for a membership at the gym and stop going?
  • Do you sign up for a class with the possibility in your mind that you might fail?
  • Do you buy books with the intention of reading them and never do?
  • Do you cross your fingers before a test and hope for a B?

If you said yes to any of these questions, it might be time to reevaluate your goals.  Here are some active steps to get out of the rut:

  • Go to the gym or quit.
  • Take the class with enthusiasm or stay home.
  • Read the books or pass them along to someone who will.

When the board is erased, and the computers are shut down and the chalk dust has settled the only person your language skills, the knowledge you’ve gained from reading, and the grades matter to is you.

And for goodness’ sake! Don’t hope for a B. Don’t hope for any grade at all. Make A’s your goal and relentlessly aim to achieve them.