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Tips to Be Successful in English Courses 109
Tips to Be Successful in English Courses

Do your homework consistently.  Don’t rush to get the homework completed.  Instead, take your time to develop your answers.  Homework is assigned to reinforce the skills and to provide practice for tasks which will later be evaluated.  The homework is a form of assessment.  It is not only a way for your teachers, but also for you to track your learning.  If you are having difficulty with the homework or you find that your answers are consistently incorrect, that is a strong indication that you need to set up a time with your teacher to meet for extra help.

Correct homework accurately.  Make the corrections in a different colour so that you have a visual cue to track areas for improvement.  Write the correct answer in detail so that you have a good exemplar of how to answer a question.  Remember your notes will provide a foundation for future tests and/or tasks.  If you need further clarification, ask your teacher for help. 

Listen attentively and take notes during classroom discussions.  Be an active listener by:

  • copying down information/notes off the board;
  • taking notes during classroom discussions;
  • jotting down questions to ask for clarification. 

Read, review and reflect.  Try to build in some time to read over your notes and review new terms, course material, etc. on a regular basis.  Reflect on the lesson done in class and jot down questions or concerns you may have.  Address these with your teacher the next day while the information is still fresh in your mind. 

“Learn” the material.  Try to understand what is being taught (the learning goals) and why.  Make sure you understand what you are reading, studying, discussing, writing, etc.  For example, you cannot write an essay on a play if you don’t understand the major ideas in the play that are discussed in class.  Therefore, participate in class by volunteering to read, answer questions and ask questions. 

Review feedback.  Often, your teachers will give you various forms of feedback, some oral and some written.  Listen carefully during student-teacher conferences by taking down notes and asking questions for clarification.  Read over the written feedback provided and cross-reference it with the specific portion of the task the feedback is addressing.  Make sure you understand the feedback.  Ask questions if you don’t understand the feedback provided. 

Manage your time and be organized.  Know your due dates (not just for English, but all your courses) and record them either in an agenda or your phone.  This way, you can plan ahead, prioritize and manage your time and workload.  DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!  Start early so that you have time to ask questions, edit your work and revise it. 

Seek help early.  Don’t wait until a test or a due date to ask for help.  Be proactive and get help immediately if you find that you are struggling.  Come with specific and targeted questions about what it is you don’t understand.  For example, do not say, “I don’t understand the whole play.”  A specific and targeted question would be, “Can you help me with the concept of irony in the play?”  Communication is essential to your success, so please keep your teacher informed about your struggles and concerns.


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