Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 4 – Episode 132 – Study Skills – Effective Note-Taking

How do you usually make notes on audio programs you listen to? Videos on YouTube? Or even in classrooms? Do you review your notes after the lesson? If so, how do you do it? If not, why not?

Note-Taking Skills

Note-taking skills are essential, but not everyone knows how to do it. It’s not simply a case of writing down everything the teacher says. Good note-taking requires students to evaluate, organize and summarize information and is a key life skill for students to learn. Students who take notes are seven times more likely to remember information one week after a lesson than those who simply listen. There are different ways to record information, and it’s best to find the system that suits your learning style, but here are some suggestions to help.

Before the lesson

– Start by reviewing the notes from the previous lesson and look at the major ideas or specific facts that you were taught. Think of questions you would like to ask the teacher. This will help refresh your memory and get you ready for the lesson to come.

– Start a new page, and write the date.

– Organize your page in a way that suits you best. One way to do this is to draw a line down the center of the page, leaving about two thirds of the width to the right, and a third to the left. The right-hand section is where you will write your notes during the lesson, and the left-hand side is for reviewing and organizing later.

During the Lesson

– Don’t try to write down everything the teacher says. The average student writes only 1/3 of a word per second, while the average teacher says 2-3 words. Keep your notes brief. Write an outline of the key concepts, with supporting facts and examples using short phrases or sentences only.

– Develop your own system of abbreviations, such as w/for ‘with’ or use mathematical symbols, e.g. <, =, Aim to be consistent with these so that you recognize them easily when you re-read your notes.

– Listen for clues from the teacher about how to organize your notes. Often a lesson will begin with a summary of the points that will be covered. Then the teacher will use phrases to signal what’s important, e.g. ‘There are two points of view…, “The third reason is….’The lesson may then also end with a summary of what has been said.

– Organize the main point son the page in a way that suits you best, for example using bullet points, or a mind map.

After the Lesson

– As soon as the lesson finishes, take a moment to look over your notes. Use this time to highlight in color, or underline key concepts, or to write questions if anything isn’t clear.

– Within 24 hours, look at your notes again to help transfer information from your short – to long-term memory. If you’ve left a margin on the left of the page, write here key words that summarize the main ideas of the lesson. If the notes are clear, you won’t need to waste time writing everything up again.

– Regularly reviewing, reciting and practicing your notes is the best way to learn and remember them.

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Podcast

You’re going to hear a lecture about language. Everything you just read will be implemented.

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