Writing inside the classroom

How are you going to going to manage to write your essays in English?

  • Try to think the subject through in your L2 / L3. You have read articles in your target language and there is unlikely to be enough time for translating between your L1 and L2.
  • Investigate using mind maps to plan your work (See the “Identity – who am I?” activities for what mind maps look like, if you are not sure.)
  • Consider brainstorming ideas with other students and writing in bullet points first – what are your key points and what is your argument?
  • Check with your tutor what style and structure is required – it might be very different from your home university.

Activity: Practice your note taking

Note taking in the classroom is vital for helping you to keep track of what you do in each class, and to help remember key information. Taking notes in your L2 may seem a bit daunting at first. Here’s an activity that you can do to help you:

  • First, find a short audio or video clip online, such as a video on YouTube, a Ted Talk or a podcast. If possible, look for something related to your field of study to help you practice listening to relevant content and vocabulary.
  • Before you start, brainstorm as much vocabulary as possible that is relevant to the topic. Again, it may help to make a mind map to do this.
  • Next, play the clip. Try to focus on listening for the key points, and only write down the main ideas. Avoid trying to write down everything you hear.. you want to take notes that will help you remember the key ideas, not have a full transcription!
  • When the clip is finished, read back through your notes. Do they make sense? If need be, make a second draft of your notes, rewording them and adding information that you didn’t have time to write down while listening.
  • Now leave your notes for a day or two before going back over them. Remember, your notes need to make sense days or even weeks after you write them (for example, when you’re studying for an exam). Do your notes still make sense, and give you a good idea of what the clip was about? Listen to the clip again to check whether you have retained the main idea. If need be, try the activity again with the same clip, or another one.

Get into the habit of practicing your note taking every couple of days. This is helping you not only with your writing and note taking, but also with your aural comprehension.