Reviewing always conjures up images of pouring over notes, and boringly looking through everything. In my high school and college days I hated reviewing, I just wanted to keep learning more and more new things, not reviewing the old stuff. Doggedly trotting through notes is of course, boring. But, I got the notion in my head that if I just read through my notes enough times it would all lock in place.
I always wondered how people could study so hard without keeling over dead. If I spend more than half an hour studying, my vision starts to blur and my focus turns to other things. For example, figuring out how to beat that one level of Angry Birds that kept driving me crazy. And for Japanese, I want to like the language more, not be put to sleep by it.
There has to be a better way to review that doesn’t induce narcolepsy. Something that has a bit of the fun of learning and discovering new things, even though it is material that you have already covered. I think you need to look at it from a slightly different angle.
Being on a Diet
Being on a diet sucks. Especially when you go to a restaurant with your non-dieting friends and have to watch them order and eat anything they want. You just have to sit there and look and smell the food, while you eat your leafy salad.
But, when you are reviewing you are not on a diet, so don’t just look at all that delicious food, eat it. Try to digest it as much as possible. Don’t just let it sit in your book. Take it and try to do something with whatever you happen to be having trouble with.
How can you re-digest it?
One of the simplest ways of course is to try to use it in conversation. But, you could also try to write an example sentence using the vocabulary/grammar/kanji you are having trouble with. The point is to try to re-engage your brain with the material, not blind drilling.
Writing the kanji a few times in a row is helpful because it will train your mechanical memory. So, in theory, in the future, you can just tell your hand to write 日 and it will do it, you don’t have to think about each stroke. It’ll just do it automatically.
But, for other types of information, it is better to re-digest it, by making your brain do some work. It doesn’t matter so much what that work is. It could be translating things back and forth for example. It just has to involve making the wheels in your head move.
Take Care of Yourself
Get proper sleep! This is advice I need to heed myself as well. Regular, ordinary, at about the same time every day sleep can do wonders for your concentration. If you need some help diagnosing possible sleep issues (like snoring and waking up repeatedly), I recommend an awesome app called SleepBot (iPhone, Android). It measures your sounds and movements and keeps track of how much you slept.
Also, breaks. You need breaks, regular every 30 minutes or so breaks. Make use of the time to get up stretch, walk around the house/block. Get your blood pumping again and then throw yourself back at the books. If you are a lower level, these breaks might include vegging out on a little English entertainment for a few moments before getting back into it. Just let your mind refresh and don’t push it too hard.
Good luck with your review! Let me know how you re-digest things in the comments below.
Photo by Brian Smith