5 tips to help you remember what you learned during the summer!
You are trying to cross your room just to reach up high on that last closet self where your swimming suits have been waiting! You are stumbling upon piles of books, stepping on post-its and note-books and kicking away any pen or pencil you see among all that. Who cares? Summer is here! Finally, you don’t have to worry about all that, let alone open them again and study. Your summer holidays are here now and you are blissfully going to ignore this beautiful mess.
It is natural to feel that way and want to focus on all the things that you have been missing the entire year. The most amazing time of the year has come and you can finally go back to your favourite hobbies, meeting your friends a lot more often, doing sports, relaxing and setting out on new adventures!
What about the things that we spent so much time and energy learning throughout the school year in our foreign language lessons? What happens to them? Will they simply fade away under the bright summer sunlight? Is there a way to retain some of the knowledge we acquired without actually studying?
Of course, there is!
- Read, read, read !
It is certain that most of you like to read during the summer. Whether you are reading various magazines, literature books or simply surfing the Internet to catch the latest news or information, your mind receives new information. Some of it are going to be assimilated while other pieces of it, not. It doesn’t really matter because your brain knows best what needs to be maintained for later use.
Now, imagine doing all that in the language that you are aiming to learn! Imagine reading about the topics that interest you the most in this new language, discovering foreign literature or simply reading the headlines of the news in another language! It is natural that the speed of your reading as well as the amount of information that you will be able to absorb will be less, compared to your native language, yet this is a huge step towards actual learning of this language.
There is something magical happening subconsciously when we read in another language. Something that cannot be understood or detected by ourselves, however it will reveal itself in time. By reading, we receive the mentality of this language’s written speech. We get how the syntax works and how words are combined gracefully together. This will come out as a result when we go back to writing texts in that language. That old way of straight translating our thoughts in paper will be gone and somehow we will be writing under this language’s way of thinking.
- Watch movies!
Yes, that’s right! How many times did you miss going to the cinema or simply watching your favourite series or shows because of your hectic schedule during the year? Now is the time to make up for all these lost movies.
Usually, no matter what your level is in a foreign language, you tend to use subtitles while watching it. During this summer, try putting subtitles in the language that you are learning or if your level is quite higher, go on and use no subtitles. If the language, in which the movie is made is not the one you are practising, then go ahead and select in the Settings, the language you want as the spoken language. It will probably be awkward and funny in the beginning but it is a great way to practise and revise some of the vocabulary you learned through the year!
- Meet foreign people!
Learning a new language is all about communication. Regardless of the level of your language skills, the ease of meeting new people greatly depends on character. Some of us find it quite easy to meet new people while others feel shy and hesitant. Especially, towards people who speak a foreign language. Summer makes all that a lot better! Everyone is feeling more relaxed, friendly and probably excited to make new friendships.
Either you have the chance to travel to a destination where a foreign language is spoken or you simply spend your holiday in your country, it is almost certain that you are going to meet people from other countries. When you meet them, forget about grammar, vocabulary, syntax and all else. Just speak! Make hundreds of thousands of mistakes, go ahead and make a mess out of the language! and honestly, have fun with it! Because you will be communicating at this language.
Personally, I think that it’s time for you to leave behind the fear of being judged and enjoy the process of meeting new people, who are going to exchange their ideas and stories with you. Last but not least, remember that you are the ones who are making an effort to speak in their language and most people welcome this effort and are more than willing to help you express yourself during your conversation.
- Rewrite your notes!
Somewhere between all these note-books lying around on your bedroom floor, you will discover the one you used for your foreign-language. Please skip the first thought that comes to your head. Yeah, that’s right! Do not throw it away!
I know this note-book has probably caused considerable anxiety through the year and you resent the thought that you will need to see the same colourful hand-written notes, your teacher’s red marking and the stains of coffee stigmatizing specific chapters.
However, this note-book is not a simple note-book. It has actually become a manual. It is the key to opening the door of knowledge to the questions that have been tormenting you all year. The mistakes that you had been repeating, lie here corrected. It contains significant notes and remarks completely personalized to your needs. Therefore, the best thing that you can do during this summer, is to rewrite these notes and rules into a brand new note-book. I know this task sounds daunting at first, but you have no reason to rush at it. Take your time and transfer, at your own pace, everything, in a better organization and hand-writing into a brand-new note-book. By the time that you have finished, you will be holding in your hands, your personal work-of-art, that won’t discourage you from searching inside it for answers again and that will be easier for you to use whenever you need it.
Did I just forget to mention that this is, of course, an amazing way of revising what you learned through the year?
- Teach others!
Another alternative way to successfully retain what you have learned throughout the school year is to teach it to others. Nobody claims that you are great at teaching or that you have assimilated everything so perfectly that your knowledge on a subject could be compared to that of a teacher’s. However, explaining a specific grammatical phenomenon or using a number of words on a targeted topic during speaking, will definitely help another student, friend or sibling to improve their level in the foreign language. They will understand more thoroughly a phenomenon they consider difficult, without feeling the expected anxiety that comes with the presence of a teacher.
Before you try to transmit what you know to another person, it is natural that you will make a small revision and that you will organize it in a way. On the other hand, while you will be explaining this material to the other person, they will probably ask you questions in the parts that they find difficult. At that moment, you will be required to explain things even simpler. The combination of your preparation before teaching with the need to sufficiently answer questions during the time of the ‘lesson’ will undeniably lead to a deeper understanding of the material yourself!