Today I returned an assessment to my Form 2 class. About five students failed; a number of other students were disappointed with their grades. Out of interest, I asked the class how many people thought they had failed. About ten students thought they had failed; amongst them the five who did fail.

I was surprised so many students thought they had failed, especially as some of them are students I regard as good students of Spanish. When I gave back the tests, those who hadn’t failed were relieved, but still unhappy with their results.

The question is: how do you get from a grade that you don’t like to a grade that you’re happy with?

Everyone has a different way of learning, but here’s some general advice for students at any stage to improve their learning skills:

Set a time limit on your study of that subject or study: give yourself 10 minutes, 20 minutes or 40 minutes (I would NOT recommend more than this per topic).
Have a definite goal for that period of time: you may or not know it but your teacher comes into class with the idea that by the end of class you will be able to do something in particular.
Examples in Spanish are: The students will be able to “introduce themselves and spell their names” or “describe the rooms in the house” or “ask and give directions” or “use the future tense to make predictions”.
It’s a good idea for you to have an aim like that for each of your study sessions. The earlier you get in the habit of this, the better.
Read, listen, say, write These are your four skills for a language. Divide your study sessions into different skills sometimes instead of always learning a list of vocabulary.
Mind maps are useful for any subject. They give you a different way of thinking about a topic and sometimes that makes it easier to remember.
Play games! Use the internet – it’s full of games to help you practise your learning skills. There are some links on this blog, but find your own as well.
Speak Spanish! We’re lucky enough in our school to have lots of native speakers. Talk to any natives you can find! They don’t care if you make mistakes – go ahead, give it a go!

Do you have any tips that might help a fellow student? If so, leave a comment below.

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