How Do You Review Material?

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Xenops
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How Do You Review Material?

Postby Xenops » Sun Mar 28, 2021 5:35 am

How do you make reviewing previously-studied material fun enjoyable less boring Engaging?

Interestingly, when I searched "review" both on HTLAL and Llorg, very few posts came up. The most interesting one is Active Study time vs Review time, particularly the first post:

ZombieKing wrote:I find that for me, however long I study is about how long I have to review too. This has been a recurring pattern since I started studying more seriously. If I study German for an hour and a half, I'll have to spend maybe 45 minutes to an hour just reviewing all of that, not including the anki reps I do in the morning which take about 15-20 minutes.


Cavesa's recent posts about how med students study lead me to find this PDF: https://www.dmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Study-Tips-from-the-Perspective-of-a-Medical-Student.pdf the writer suggests reviewing material as many as 5 times in the first 24 hours!

As much as we (me) like to think that once we studied something, we're good...I'm realizing that maybe I need to make review a regular part of my diet. I use Memrise and Anki for small doses of vocabulary, but outside of SRS, I don't have many ideas.

How about you? What's your review routine? It sounds like some programs have reviewing built in, but this is not the case with many textbooks. Do you have a secret to make it less boring?
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby lysi » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:20 am

Language itself is entirely repetitive. So why go out of your way to review something which will naturally be presented to you, just by being exposed to the language? The absolute majority of anything in a language will be repeated commonly enough to recall it to memory, though with the exception of uncommon vocabulary. Something that I've found is that review can only ever strengthen the memory of whatever I'm reviewing, but not to expand it in any meaningful way. This is fine for medical students but for me, doing SRS and reviewing cards is only half of learning something, the other half is seeing it and paying attention to how it's used enough times to get an unconscious understanding of it.

This is one of the things that sets language learning apart from any other subject for me, and also why I don't think a paper from a medical student has much value for us language learners. The circumstances are greatly different. In a sense, if you consider language as a set of interconnected parts (which isn't necessarily true), then we're naturally reviewing a great number of these parts unconsciously by just being exposed to the language, as well as improving our understanding of how they connect together.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby smallwhite » Sun Mar 28, 2021 10:12 am

> Interestingly, when I searched "review" both on HTLAL and Llorg, very few posts came up.

Dear American, I know you review your material, but over here we revise it ;)

Importance of revising sessions
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 14&t=11574

What's the best way to review grammar?
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =17&t=3396

How often do you revisit previous material?
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 17&t=10282
Last edited by smallwhite on Sun Mar 28, 2021 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby Longinus » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:12 am

Xenops wrote:How do you make reviewing previously-studied material fun enjoyable less boring Engaging?

Cavesa's recent posts about how med students study lead me to find this PDF: https://www.dmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Study-Tips-from-the-Perspective-of-a-Medical-Student.pdf the writer suggests reviewing material as many as 5 times in the first 24 hours!



Okay, I made the mistake of reading the study tips PDF above, and now I feel obligated to comment. Despite all the breathlessly worded "You must do this!!!!!" phrases in the document, I will tell you that I did pretty much exactly the opposite in medical school. I never took notes and I skipped all the lectures (I went initially, but found them a very inefficient way to learn). I didn't repeatedly review/revise material, make diagrams, or do any of the crazy obsessive-compulsive things described in the PDF.

So what did I do? I read an incredible amount of material. So much, in fact, that I stopped telling my residents and medical students what I did, because they did not believe me, even breaking into laughter in many cases. In addition to reading several large textbooks per class, I subscribed throughout medical school to six major journals from the most fundamental medical specialties (internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, etc.) and read them religiously. (Many journals used to offer free or very inexpensive print subscriptions to students -- now, they're available online for free through the medical library.) Of course, I didn't understand very much at first. But this changed.

Did this work? Well, I had the highest clinical grades and the highest medical board exam scores in my class of 120 students, so I would say yes. Keep in mind that the majority of students did not even read one large textbook per class, much less two or three, but rather focused on "what's on the test" in the obsessive manner described in the PDF. And certainly I didn't know anybody else who did the journal subscription thing. So this was a very different approach, and a much more pleasant one for me.

In thinking about how this applies to language learning (and I have never really thought about this until now, oddly enough,) reading several different textbooks per class is analogous to the iguanamon multi-track approach -- you're effectively reviewing the same material, but seeing it expressed in different ways and in a different order. Reading large quantities of journal articles, most of which I did not understand very well initially, is a form of massive input, although certainly not the "n+1" comprehensible input that Krashen talks about. It was more like n+5.

I should probably think about this some more and make some changes to my language study routines!
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby Iversen » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:35 am

I actually recognize some of my own study behaviours from Longinus' message, although I did not stay away from classes and lectures - I just prepared in my own way. I remember that when I was examined in 'Antiquities' ('Oldtidskundskab' in Danish) I drew a question about 'hybris' and chose to illustrate it with some references to Kreon. OK, said my teacher, but the tragedy I referred to wasn't part of the curriculum. OK, I said, but then maybe the only other one is, and then I said something about hybris based on the other one, which proved that I didn't have the faintest idea about what was in the curriculum and what wasn't - I had just read everything. And when I later studied literature (haha!) at the university we should prepare one novel for each class in a certain course, but I just spent the first ten minutes or so of each lesson perousing the text, looking for clever things to say, and apparently nobody ever discovered that I never ever prepared anything whatsoever - I got my exam. Using this technique I could get a quite satisfactory overview over the whole of the world literature without getting lost in any single authors' trivial confabulations. And in math in the 'Gymnasium' I made a deal with my teacher that he should warn me if he wanted to ask me a question, and then I would answer it - but in between I was buried in my own research projects. Some of us just don't fit into the normal study schemes, and if we are lucky our teachers accept it.

As for rewieving/revising/doing repetitions: I always do a repetition of my dictionary based wordlists - two if the words seemed more recalcitrant than normal. However for text based wordlists I'm now leaning towards another solution, namely rereading the original text to check whether I now understand all words in it. And I have also found out that bilingual printouts which have been used some time ago are quite useful as goodnight reading - the worst thing that might happen is that I fall asleep, and that's OK. I have also reread several grammar books. And if I don't understand a Youtube video I may run through it once more, and the reward is sometimes that I understand slightly more the second time. I don't find that boring - it just takes time.

Five repetitions - no way. If five seem to be necessary then the materials are above your level.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby lusan » Sun Mar 28, 2021 1:43 pm

Longinus wrote:
Xenops wrote:How do you make reviewing previously-studied material fun enjoyable less boring Engaging?

Cavesa's recent posts about how med students study lead me to find this PDF: https://www.dmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Study-Tips-from-the-Perspective-of-a-Medical-Student.pdf the writer suggests reviewing material as many as 5 times in the first 24 hours!



Okay, I made the mistake of reading the study tips PDF above, and now I feel obligated to comment. Despite all the breathlessly worded "You must do this!!!!!" phrases in the document, I will tell you that I did pretty much exactly the opposite in medical school. I never took notes and I skipped all the lectures (I went initially, but found them a very inefficient way to learn). I didn't repeatedly review/revise material, make diagrams, or do any of the crazy obsessive-compulsive things described in the PDF.

So what did I do? I read an incredible amount of material. So much, in fact, that I stopped telling my residents and medical students what I did, because they did not believe me, even breaking into laughter in many cases. In addition to reading several large textbooks per class, I subscribed throughout medical school to six major journals from the most fundamental medical specialties (internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, etc.) and read them religiously. (Many journals used to offer free or very inexpensive print subscriptions to students -- now, they're available online for free through the medical library.) Of course, I didn't understand very much at first. But this changed.

Did this work? Well, I had the highest clinical grades and the highest medical board exam scores in my class of 120 students, so I would say yes. Keep in mind that the majority of students did not even read one large textbook per class, much less two or three, but rather focused on "what's on the test" in the obsessive manner described in the PDF. And certainly I didn't know anybody else who did the journal subscription thing. So this was a very different approach, and a much more pleasant one for me.

In thinking about how this applies to language learning (and I have never really thought about this until now, oddly enough,) reading several different textbooks per class is analogous to the iguanamon multi-track approach -- you're effectively reviewing the same material, but seeing it expressed in different ways and in a different order. Reading large quantities of journal articles, most of which I did not understand very well initially, is a form of massive input, although certainly not the "n+1" comprehensible input that Krashen talks about. It was more like n+5.

I should probably think about this some more and make some changes to my language study routines!


Your approach worked for me when I studied for my Ph. D. in Chemistry. I remember my first year struggles because of....English... I had jumped into a Doctoral Program out of Dominican Republic... a little insane... I could not understand enough English to deal with this animal. ... So I did as you did... I thought that maybe I didn't understand the courses because I did not know enough English, but maybe, maybe if I read the same material from different books it might survive. I grabbed a bunch of Organic Chemistry books and I just read, read, read... It was a lot of work, indeed... Result: the highest grades... of 21 students, 19 failed, one got a B and I got an 'A'.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby gsbod » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:01 pm

There is a difference between what you might do to really get to grips with your chosen subject, and what you might do to pass an exam as efficiently as possible. That's not to suggest that one goal is any better than the other, it really depends on your personal circumstances, but when giving and receiving advice it's useful to know if the goals of the person giving the advice align with your goals or not. I've had an interesting dilemma recently where I've been doing two courses, both of which have asked me to dedicate more time than I have been able to in practice. One of them is more useful for me to say I have on my CV, the other is more interesting to study. I've been doing what I need to do to pass the course for my CV (and no more). The other course I've been spending a lot more time on, but actually care less about the grade at the end of it, because the pleasure is in the learning (I do expect a good grade, however!)

My goals for language learning these days are around either practical use in the real world, or just playing around because languages are fun. If I needed to prepare for a certificate in a fixed timeframe I might take a different approach.

In general, I find that for beginner to intermediate (A1 to around B1), Anki is useful for reviewing vocabulary and some elements of grammar (e.g. noun gender where relevant), as long as I don't let it take over or become the main focus of my studies. From B1 and above, a lot of review is built in to using the language, although this is also dependant on having opportunities to use the language. Since I'm not currently in a position to need a language qualification, if I don't have those opportunities, it's probably not worth the effort getting above B1 anyway. Assuming I do have those opportunities, I'll also do further review of specific areas where I know that I'm having trouble. So for example, if there's a particular grammatical construction I tend to mess up, I'll spend a few days focused on that, pulling out exercises from various textbooks.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby Le Baron » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:41 pm

I agree with the majority of posts above. Rote learning of things in programmes like Anki is never engaging for me, so I refuse to do it. I can't imagine any way this sort of thing can ever be made engaging because it is utterly boring and isolated out of context.

As so many above said, the business of reading widely (and also listening in the particular case of language learning) seems to provide broader and deeper results. I was also advised to "read much and note little" by my university thesis supervisor. In reading you are exposed time and time again to the same ideas (and vocabulary/grammar) in different ways, all in context. Offering you the vocabulary, the grammar, the idioms, the culture (which assists in understanding from the perspective of the respective language users) all at once. Done progressively it's invaluable.

I do review and investigate the few notes I make from reading, but they are barely a page of A5 notepaper. At most both sides of one sheet containing the handful of unfamiliar words and grammatical constructions which particularly impeded that bit of reading. That's easy to go through and of those I'll only ever go back to the particularly troublesome ones. Better to just pare them down, finish the book and then at some point in the very near future re-read the book and generally experience improvement.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby einzelne » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:40 pm

Initial stage: I upload a bunch of audio courses on my iPhone and listen to them as much as I can in my spare time (i.e. while walking a dog, commuting, waiting in the line etc.) striving for 2-3 h of exposure per day. I don't count repetitions, don't strive for 100% comprehension, don't practice production, only listening (to get even more exposure I cut pauses in my audio files to get uninterrupted flow of speech). In my study time, I review these dialogues and short texts in order to check the translation of new words, grammar explanations but, again, I don't strive for perfection (80% is more than enough). The point is to get through this stage as quickly as possible (for instance, I finished Assimil's French with Ease in 2 months).

Intermediate stage: basically the same but with a bunch of adapted books. I read them, underline unknown words, write translations on the margin and review them by listening to audiobooks. How often? Definitely way less repetitions than during the initial stage. In my study time, I review the texts by skimming through them and checking underlined words: first, I try to recall the meaning without any context, then, if failed, I reread the whole sentence and if I still don't understand it I check the translation on the margin.

Advanced stage: basically, it's the same but with unadapted materials. I read books, underline new words, write translations on the margin (in case I read in Kindle app, I don't even need to do it), and listen to their audio version in my spare time. Initially, I try to cut audiobooks into small chunks to get (3-4 minutes) and turn them into Assimil like texts, with the only difference that they are unadapted, but I quickly give up.

I don't have any rigid system of reviewing, since any rigid algorithm immediately kills all the joy of studying a language (and fails to accommodate life circumstances). But I try to review new vocabulary regularly once I switch to unadapted texts to speed up the process. My experience shows that extensive reading alone is less effective. For instance, last year I read quite extensively in French. In one book I met être assis en tailleur several times. I reviewed it (together with other new words) over a week I was reading the novel. I think the next time I came across this expression was after 8-10 months. Since I deliberately reviewed it, I immediately recognize it. I doubt I would have recalled it otherwise.
Last edited by einzelne on Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:52 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: How Do You Review Material?

Postby gsbod » Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:04 pm

einzelne wrote:In one book I met être assis en tailleur several times. I reviewed it (together with other new words) over a week I was reading the novel. I think the next time I came across this expression was after 8-10 months. Since I deliberately reviewed it, I immediately recognize it. I doubt I would have recalled it otherwise.


That's interesting. I learned the German equivalent, im Schneidersitz sitzen under similar circumstances. The novel wasn't even very good, although it did help with vocabulary, so not a complete waste of time. And now, hopefully, I've just learned the French version with mimimal effort too. Are tailors sitting cross legged just a French and German thing?

In any case, making these unexpected connections can really help with learning things.
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