Study Guide: Language Exams

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In an increasingly globalized world, more and more people are learning more than one language. I started taking French in middle school, and have kept with it to college. In middle school and high school, I didn't really study much for French tests, so when I got to college I was kind of clueless as to how to study another language.

After spending nearly four months in France, learning nothing but French, I have figured out what works for me when it comes to studying another language. These are my best tips for studying for a foreign language exam:

Blank paper 
Index cards
Colored pens
Class notes
Book (if needed)
Your Brain (preferably rested and well-fed)

Keep all your notes in one place, and keep all of your old notes.
Use one notebook for your language class, and keep your old notebooks in the same place. The things you learn build off of each other, so it's helpful to have your notes that you took in your intro classes in case you forget the formation of the conditional when you are working on a more advanced grammatical concept. 

Tables and charts are great for memorizing conjugations and grammar rules. 
I love the way that tables keep everything organized and easy to read. This is especially helpful for conjugations - I keep a few charts handy when I'm studying, especially the common irregular verbs and the subjunctive conjugations of verbs. 

Include examples. 
I always forget to include examples in my study guides, but it's important to see the concepts put into practice. 

Flashcards help with last minute memorization and review.
If you need to memorize something quickly, flashcards are your best bet. They help you learn vocabulary and rules that really rely on just rote memorization (and in grammar, there are a lot of those). Plus, they're easy to carry around to review on the go! I actually recommend using flashcards in almost every subject.

Write with pen and paper - not your laptop.
The best way to really learn the language - the words, conjugations, and spellings - is to write it old fashioned, pen and paper. Sure, your computer can be helpful for figuring out spelling of tricky words, and auto-correct is a godsend, but it really doesn't help you learn how to do anything differently.

Color code!
Kind of going along with using pens - use different color pens. I know a lot of people who don't like to color-code their notes because it's distracting, and I get it. I love color coding things, and I find that with my language classes, if I color-code my notes and homework, it just makes it easier to find what I'm looking for in the end. I like to write my headings and examples in the color, and the general information in black, so I can read it more easily.

I like using the four-color pens (Bic makes them, as does Papermate... and actually a lot of pen companies). They usually come in black, blue, green, and red, but you can also find more fun colors like purple, lime green, pink, and light blue. These are great if you don't want to carry around too many pens!

How do you like to study for language exams? Any tips? 

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