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Better Homework, Revision & Examinations for ESL Students

Josef Essberger

Even if you are learning English in a school, you probably spend a lot of time working alone on your English. The time you spend working alone is actually very valuable for you. And you can increase its value by working in a disciplined, systematic way. At the same time, try to relax. Be cool. You will learn more easily and more quickly.

Here are some tips to help you learn as efficiently as possible. We will consider three aspects of your work:

  1. Homework: INput; new language, new grammar, new vocabulary; exercises
  2. Revision: reinforcement; looking again at what you have already studied; consolidation. This is very important.
  3. The Examination: OUTput; this could be a major exam like the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, or an exam like the TOEIC, or a test at school.

Homework

  • Decide what time to do your homework each day - and then do it at that time without fail!
  • Find a convenient place to work and always work in that place.
  • Do your work progressively, a little at a time. Don't wait until you have a lot to do. That will worry you, and you will find it hard to start.
  • Be disciplined about your homework time. Don't waste your homework time doing other things, like telephoning friends or making cups of coffee!
  • Keep all your work together in a folder or file. Keep it tidy. Don't do it on scraps of paper.
  • Keep a record of what you have done each week - and what you plan to do the next week.
  • Leave time in your plan for unexpected events.

Revision

  • Revise in an organised way. Make a plan at the beginning - and follow to it!
  • Do not spend all your time revising! Try to spend time on your normal hobbies and your social life.
  • Make your revision interesting by relating it to the real world - the news, for example, or your job.
  • Make notes for your revision constantly. And try to practise what you revise.
  • If you do not understand something, ASK! Never be afraid to ask. Ask your teacher, ask the local library, ask EnglishCLUB.net. Asking questions helps you to understand.
  • Try to talk to other people about your revision. Discuss any problems with your friends and family.
  • If it seems difficult, think about the future. You are working hard now for a better future!

The Examination

  • Try to relax the night before the exam. Do not revise too late. Go to bed early!
  • On the day of the exam, have a good breakfast. Leave home early, so that you will not panic if the traffic is bad.
  • Do not worry if you are nervous. It is normal and natural to be nervous. It will make you more alert for the exam and so you will do better.
  • Read the exam paper very carefully. Be sure that you understand all the instructions - and then follow them!
  • Look for the questions that have the highest marks or points. Do them first.
  • Give yourself a time limit for each question so that you can finish the whole exam.
  • Make sure that you include your name and all necessary details (examination number, centre number etc) correctly.

Finally, try to be relaxed about your studies. Language is only a method of communication. It is really quite easy. You are already an expert in your own language. Soon you will be an expert in English too!

© 1999 Josef Essberger

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