How to learn effectively

How to learn effectively
12 May 2020

As I have been a French, German and English teacher for some years, I found myself in the same situations as my students when I started learning Russian. So, as I reminder of what I always told my students to do and should do myself, and as a help for you, I decided to write this article on how to learn effectively, in order to make your learning experience as strong as possible!

  1. Organise yourself

My mum would always say “if your notebook is organised, your head is organised, but beware of the vis-versa!”. And she is right. What is more horrible than wanting to learn and bumping into a cocktail of unreadable vocabulary, messy grammar rules and half-finished exercises? However, it is rather difficult to keep a clean learning material while classes, as so many information, need to be processed at the same time. For this reason, the time after the class is just as important as the time in class.

So, after class, have a rest, cook, sleep or do whatever your heart desires. After an hour or two, when your mind is refreshed but your new knowledge is still present, take the notes you made during class and organise them. During class, I use my little notebook and write down every exercise and information I can earn. However, when it is quite messy and unreadable. After my leisure time, I sort my new knowledge in order to make it all readable and enjoyable.

  1. Help your memory

If we could remember everything we heard only once, life would be much easier. But it’s not, so we need to help our memory. However, mother nature made me a rather lazy person, so let’s just say I am not a huge fan of sitting at my desk the hall day while learning my vocabulary. Therefore, I chose to mix the “organisation” and “memory” step: take your new knowledge, write it down again by categorising them (I use a file with three categories: verbs, nouns and adjectives). To write it down again, as well as the organisation gives the mind a good reminder of what you just learned. Ideally, to read the words before going to sleep is a good help for memory. Simply reading them through on a regular basis is extremely useful in the long run, especially for those who have regular classes and therefore use those words again in class.

  1. Vary the pleasures

The more often you read the words, the more chances you have to remember. However, reading that same page over and over again is not only tiring, but also useless as we will subconsciously think “alright I know them all already”, and won’t read them attentively. Therefore, it is very interesting to use different methods of learning: watch little episodes of Russian comics, read bilingual books or books for children, listen to Russian songs and try to understand the lyrics… the more the sources of knowledge, the more receptive you will be to all of them.

Posted by Kim Schierke

My name is Kim, I’m 21 years old and I just graduated from International Relations at the University of Geneva. I have always been fascinated by Russia, because of its language and its culture. During my studies, this interest has kept on growing and I even ended up writing my thesis about it. Learning the language, therefore, comes as an evidence.

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