Saturday, May 10, 2008

Preparing for tests

Doing your daily Anki sentences, listening music, watching Spanish television, etc., etc. It's great to do that every day, but frankly: it's only for your general studying, to get better in Spanish in general. But what if you have to prepare for Spanish tests, either in high school or in college? How do you prepare for, let's say, the vocabulary part? This can be rough, especially if you don't know where to start.

On an average, people try to jam vocabulary lists in their head using brute-force learning. Reading words over and over again, saying them out loud. Some people in my class do this, and even I did it. With no success. But now I pass the vocabulary tests with almost straight A's. And it's quite easy AND fun because I know I'll pass the next test.

So what do I do? It's simple: I use Anki for my vocabulary training. The book we use in school is called Gente 2, and the vocabulary in the tests comes from the stories in that book. Every test we need to know the vocabulary in 4 of the 11 chapters bij heart. Therefore I read the chapters, and each and every word I encouter that I don't know, I write down. Actually, I add it to Anki, something like this.

noun/verb (infinitive)

Sentence where the word is in

[Show answer]

translation of noun/verb in this context

So I write down the noun (in the gender it appeared in the sentence, but that's actually not that important overall) or the verb (the infinitive, to make things clear). Then I put the sentence in which I found the unknown word under. The other side of the card only contains the translation of the unknown word as I know what the rest of the sentence means.

Where my daily sentences give me the opportunity to practice grammar, this method helps me concentrating more on the unknown word. Because the use of a word differs, I put the sentence under it which also helps remembering the word better. It works great like this, and it's also a relaxed way of learning as the most work is reading the stories and looking up the definitions. After that you can reach your goal with 20 - 30 minutes of studying every day, beginning two weeks in advance.

But what if you have to learn word lists for school? Only adding the words doesn't help much, because the words won't stick that good. Try finding sentences where the word is used in. The Wordreference website is a great source for sentences like that, although a good dictionary can help aswell.


Jeffrey said...

I think it's definitely a great technique to write the word and then place a sentence beneath it to show the different contexts in which it can be used. Although, I prefer writing two of my own sentences to supplement the sentence where I found the word originally. This helps me be creative with using the language on my own.

The Wordreference website is also an excellent resource for me, as I generally study my Spanish while on the computer.

Bilingual Blogger said...

WordReference is a godsend. I wish I had thought of it first. jeje

By the way, when is your academic term finished? This month or next?

Ramses said...

Officially 15th of July, but I think I'm able to finish all stuff by the 5th of July so I can leave for holidays at the 7th of July :).

Still have a bunch of stuff to do though, not only Spanish but also a lot of teacher subjects which can be quite dull.

By the way, this week I made the decision to sell my car so I can go to Spain for four months next year :).