I'm a university student. I'm in the first grade of the faculty, and I don't know how to study my subjects in a good way. I'm studying foreign books so that I have to translate to be able to study...

I'm a university student. I'm in the first grade of the faculty, and I don't know how to study my subjects in a good way. I'm studying foreign books so that I have to translate to be able to study it. 

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harper206 | College Teacher | In Training Educator

Posted on

In my role as professor and advisor I met with many students who felt the same as you. One suggestion is to take time to meet with your professors or teaching assistants during their office hours. Ask them for help or suggestions for studying for their class. One thing I did with my students is to look at their notes. Were they able to capture the important parts of the lecture? What were they missing? By reviewing the student's notes, I could provide guidance about what concepts or main ideas he/she was missing. This allowed the student to see patterns in what I felt was important, and then to focus on these bigger concepts in lectures, rather than just trying to write down everything I said.

I am not sure whether your professors use PowerPoint slides in your classes, but it is often the case that when slides are presented in class students try to write down all the text on a slide—they then miss the important point of showing the slide in the first place. I have heard many professors tell students they do not need to write down everything on the slide, I myself have said this, and yet I still seeing students doing this. If you think you may be missing important information from the slides, ask your professor if the slides are available online. Many instructors will make their slides available if needed.

Reading for class is important. If possible, I suggest you read prior to attending the lecture on that material (at the very least do a quick reading). Reading before coming to class gives you a context for the lecture material. It also allows you to recognize unfamiliar terms presented in lecture (because you already saw and read about the terms in the reading), and makes it easier for you to understand complex ideas presented in class, which really helps with dense material and in classes where lecturers talk at a quick pace. By reading ahead you will know what the instructor thinks is important for you to learn because they will be emphasizing it again in lecture. 

Although this next suggestion depends on the class, I often find that students spend too much time taking notes while reading their texts. I suggest highlighting, making notes in the margin (if needed), and then going back to the text when studying for the exam. Since you are also translating the texts, it is important that you do not get bogged down in your reading.

As acorn13 points out in her answer above, studying for different classes requires different strategies. I think most important for my students is that they took exceptionally good notes, came to class every day, and asked questions when they needed help. When it came to exam time, some of them found it very helpful to rewrite their notes (in summary form) and then use those summary notes as flash cards. This is just one strategy for studying—and time management is key to its success.

It sounds like it may be very helpful to you to take one of the classes that focus on studying skills. The strategies presented in these classes are really very helpful—everything from learning how to sort through very dense text and pick out the most important points, to how to figure out what may be on a test. Be sure to check in with your tutoring center—they often offer help of all kinds for studying and learning. Ask your advisors for studying/learning resources. 

acorn13's profile pic

acorn13 | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Studying always seems to be a tricky area as different methods work well for different people. Below are some different methods for the main learning styles that may apply to you.  

If you absorb new knowledge best by seeing the material (photos, videos, graphs, etc) or writing it down, you are a visual learner. For this style, I would suggest collecting your information in front of you and hand-writing notes as you go along. If you can, highlight key points in the text or graphs/images that will help you connect the knowledge to a visual cue to spark your memory. Write down the key points you highlight to better cement this in your memory. If you're able, try to find videos about the subject you are studying and take notes as you watch. Graphs and diagrams are also a great way to take in new information. Writing down your notes will make you connect to the material visually and physically as you concentrate on the words you write. Turn them into flashcards and study by looking through them several times through the day. Going through them an hour before bedtime will keep them logged into your memory better. Avoid visual distractions like windows, open doors, or television. It might be easier for you to learn the big idea of your subject first and then focus in on smaller points later.

If you learn better by listening to someone talk about the subject, you might be an auditory learner. This means it would be best for you to listen to videos, podcasts, lectures, etc about the subject. Again, I'd take notes as you listen to insure you're concentrating on the matter and don't zone out. They will also be great to refer back to later if you can't record lectures. When you're studying on your own, read the text or your notes aloud to yourself so you can hear them and absorb them better. Try to set up a study group where you can talk out ideas with others. Don't listen to music or T.V. while studying. If you need music, try something without words like classical music.

If you need to be hands-on with the material and thrive in lab settings, you'd be a kinesthetic learner. This can be trickier when you're studying text materials. If you have to read your material, I'd suggest moving while doing so (pacing or running on a treadmill while reading, doodling while listening to a lecture, standing or chewing gum while studying). If you're studying anything that could have a lab component, go to lab as much as possible and interact with the subject. 

You can also be a combination of two or all of these styles. I, myself, and a combination of auditory and visual. When I study I highlight the text, listen to lectures/videos, take notes, make flashcards of key or complex ideas and terms, and read the flashcards and my notes aloud several times throughout the day. You have to find what works best for you. 

As far as translating goes - take notes! Write down your translations and then go back to absorb the information later. This will not only allow you to read through the information in your own tongue later (which will help you absorb it better), but will also help your translation abilities as you look up words you may not 100% know. How you study these notes later will vary based on your learning style (flashcards if you're visual, reading them aloud if you're auditory, or reading them while pacing if you're kinesthetic).

I hope this helps you in your studies!

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