Language tutorials usually last for around an hour, yet how can you extend the learning that takes place? I’m going to share my own advice on this, along with what I’ve learnt from my students.
Before the tutorial
Find out the topic to be covered or even better, suggest a topic that you’d like to study. Then make a list of relevant vocabulary, perhaps pre-learning some through using apps. Read texts on that theme, whether they be traditional writings such as articles and poems, or contemporary ones including posts on social media! Texts may have an audiovisual element, such as Youtube clips of songs with transcripts. Alternatively, you might like to try our own audios. I’m happy for my students to send me resources that they find interesting so that I can plan around these or at least discuss them in the tutorial.
If we’re referring to particular books or resources in your lessons, you might like to read/work through the next section in advance, as one of my students usually does. We then run through any trickier exercises in the tutorial and leave out the ones that he found easy. The same student also contacts me about any difficult grammatical points that come up and I can then prepare to go over these in our next tutorial.
During the tutorial
Do ask about vocabulary and structures that you do not understand and highlight with a pen any that are new or hard for you. This means that you can be focused when you go over your notes before the next lesson.
If you’re one of my students, I’m happy for you to go off at a tangent during the lesson if something especially confuses or interests you. I might not have flashy resources to cover the point you wish to work on, but I’m likely to have a pen and mini-whiteboard!
Feel free to stop and photograph any resources, i.e. visuals with words and match-up activities. You could print these pictures out later and add to a folder.
After the tutorial
If you do just one thing, read over your highlighted notes from the sesson. If you like, write them out too. The movement of writing will help you retain the information, whereas little vocabulary is likely to remain in your memory if you look at it just once.
With any more time you have, try the following:
- Practise conjugating* key verbs from the tutorial. Look at them, cover them up, write them out, then check. This exercise is arguably as important as going over your highlighted notes, as verbs are indispensable.
- Use new sentence structures to create personalised sentences. Using these forms in a relevant context (about you!) will make them easier to memorise. Some prefer to write nonsense sentences. In any case, I will always be pleased to go over them with my students when I see them.
- Write out any grammatical explanations from the tutorial in your own words, while they are fresh in your memory.
Organise your thoughts…
When you look over your notes, create a mind-map of the contents of the lesson. The act of doing this is revision itself and will make everything clearer for more visual learners.
… and your things
File your notes in a way that makes sense to you, but I suggest in chronological order and then topics are naturally likely to be divided. I recommend having each lesson in a see-through pocket, either within a ring-binder or one of those A4 plastic book-like folders which has its transparent pockets built-in. The latter are less bulky and are my favourite they also happen to be advocated by Marie Kondo for filing papers (see Organising through tidying up).
Write me a note…
Known as an “exit ticket” in educational jargon, this can be a good idea. Let me know what you did and didn’t like, a couple of things learnt. Do add what you’d like to know more about and do more of. This can be a spoken note at the end of the lesson, written on a post-it or sent by email. I welcome your feedback!
* ‘Conjugation’ is forming the verb so that it tells you who did an action and when it happened.