How to effectively revise languages

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Today’s post is by @sunflowerstudy_. She has shared her amazing French GCSE revision techniques that resulted in her raising her grade from 2 to 7! What an expert! @sunflowerstudy_ is sharing her wisdom of how to make French grammar bearable!


Hello! I’m @sunflowerstudy_ and I am a studygrammer!

This blog is about how to revise and study languages, more specifically at GCSE. These revision techniques helped me massively in my GCSE exams, they may not work for everyone, but I hope that they can help you smash your language exams!

In year 10, it was safe to say that French was not my strong point, and I wasn’t enjoying it as much as other subjects. I wasn’t meeting my personal standards, and I got a grade 2 in one of my tests in the lesson and this is what pushed me to work harder.

These techniques that I am about to show you helped me improve that grade 2 to a final GCSE grade of 7, which I am absolutely over the moon with, and now I’m studying French at A Level and I couldn’t be happier with my decision!

Using past papers

One thing that had most definitely helped me improve my grade was past papers. Although past papers are not the most fun way to revise, they are by far, in my opinion, the most effective. Use your resources!

Past papers can be used to identify your weakest areas in the subject, but also your strongest ones so you know exactly what to revise. When marking your practice papers, use the mark scheme to its full potential!

If you’ve answered a question incorrectly, you need to identify the exact mistakes you made.

Was it a lack of vocabulary you understood?

Did you use the wrong tense or was it just the specification of the mark scheme?

Identifying your most common errors allows you to identify your weakest areas that you can focus on during your revision.

french 1

Photo by @sunflowerstudy_.

Using other free resources

The listening aspect of the language exam was by far my weakest skill, but there are so many resources that you can use to help you improve!

I would listen to podcasts every evening, and read through the transcripts whilst listening so I could get a sense of how words were pronounced, and without realising my skills quickly improved; even by putting subtitles in the language you are learning on your favourite Netflix show helps!

Here are a few podcasts that I listened to that saved my grades, all available on Spotify! (some are only specific to the language I studied).

innerFrench.

• News in slow French (also available in German, Spanish and Italian).

Duolingo Podcasts (available in French and Spanish).

You more than likely won’t understand it all, and that’s okay, it is all part of the learning process and don’t feel demotivated by it - the more you listen, the more you pick up and learn.

french 2

Photo by Opt In Monster.

Using the specification

It is so important that you know the structure, timing, and what type of questions could come up in your exams. Just look for your specification and it will tell you!

You don’t want to lose out on marks just because of the timing of the exam as it can be so easily practiced and perfected. For my French writing papers, I wrote down a list of every single tense, sentence structure or advanced vocabulary the exam board were looking for to get the highest possible grade. Whenever I did practice writing questions, I would always refer to this list, and by always referring to it you will eventually remember what’s required.

french 3

Photo by @sunflowerstudy_

Learning the vocabulary

There will always be a word on the exam that you won’t know and that’s just how the exams are and don’t feel overwhelmed by it. I believe that learning the vocabulary is one of the most important things to revise, and there are so many ways you can.

My revision techniques may not work for everyone; however, I will include as many as possible so I can help you as much as I can.

My exam board, AQA’s specification provided all the vocabulary that could come up in the exam, so if you learn this list you will be absolutely fine!

I hadn’t realised this until a month or two before my exam, so if you’re reading this, I hope I’ve informed you earlier. I know, the list is daunting, the vocabulary you need to learn just seems endless. I revised and revisited this vocab as often as possible, even if learning it for 10 minutes a day is still making progress!

vocabulary 4

Photo by https://www.fluentu.com/blog/french/beautiful-french-words/.

Here are some of the apps I used to help me revise my vocab:

Quizlet / Tinycards – just 10 minutes a day can help you make so much progress!

Duolingo – practicing for a short amount of time a day keeps your brain refreshed on sentence structures, and how the words are pronounced.

• Physical flashcards – I learned better writing out my own flashcards, this is great if you’re a more visual learner.

Memrise

Grammar

I found and still find grammar one of the hardest things to learn and recall, as it can be so complex. You don’t only have to know it, but you also need to understand how to apply it.

One of the best things for grammar is just to keep practising. Make posters, write the rules down on post-it notes and stick them around your room, or use flashcards.

I like to use Tex’s French Grammar which puts all the rules of grammar into context and sentences, so you know how to use them, this is such an effective way to practice.

Make sure you know all your tenses very well, especially if you are doing the higher tier! In some cases, your marks will be capped if you don’t use at least the past, present and future. The more tenses you use, and the better you know them, the more marks you will get for accuracy and content.

grammar 5

Photo by @sunflowerstudy_

Speaking

I was lucky enough to have a speaking booklet made for me by my teachers of all the possible questions that could be asked in the exam.

I recommend this because you can prepare some written answers, ask for them to be checked and just memorise them, this is what I did. The best part is you can reuse any complex or advanced phrases in other questions.

If you are with AQA, you will have a role play and picture card along with questions in the speaking exam. Before I learnt a list of ‘picture description’ vocabulary and connectives to help me answer very well. For the role play, it’s so important that you can recognise but also ask questions.

Thank you for reading my first ever blog post and I hope I’ve helped you effectively revise languages!

All your hard work will pay off in the end and I wish you all the best of luck in your exams!

What is Adapt, and how does it help you manage your time and revision?

Adapt is a brand new app which creates a personalised, exam specific timetable for you, for free. Not only can you add revision to your calendar, but your homework, topic tests, and any other task you want to do! There are so many exciting features to discover.

Feel better about your revision today by using Adapt- the app that knows all your exam dates, all the topics you need to learn, and creates your perfect revision timetable for you. Oh, and don’t worry, if you miss a topic it will reschedule it for you! So, you are getting everything done without guilt, stress, or countless hours of planning!


Cover photo by: @sashimi.notes

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