Lectures will be starting soon! It’s well worth spending some time thinking about going to lectures and how you can get the most out of them. Lectures are hard! Your lecturers will probably speak quickly and you may well find it hard to follow what they are saying. You will hear a variety of accents from your lecturers because universities are very international places and a lot of academics in the UK come from other countries. Probably your lecturer isn’t going to speak slowly just for you! Then of course you have to understand the new ideas they are talking about. And then you have to decide what things to write down because you won’t be able to write everything. Phew! That’s a lot of things going on at the same time.
There are some things you can do to make things easier for yourself:
1. Practice note taking before your lectures. You will need to make quick efficient notes in the lecture room and this is a skill which you need to practice. (More about this in the next post!) Practice writing notes for things you see and hear around you. If you hear the sentence:
Last year the economy shrank by 5%
then you should ask yourself: how could I write that sentence quickly using notes? You might write something like:
2010 econ ? 5%
You will need to practice doing this and you will need to learn what symbols are good for you to use.
2. Prepare before you go to the lecture. Try to find out what the lecture is going to be about. Your university will have a website and there are webpages for the modules that you study. Look at these carefully. Many lecturers make their Powerpoint slides available before the lecture. Often the lecture titles are available as well. Find out as much as you can about the lecture before the lecture. Do some reading about the subject and check up on particular vocabulary that you think will come up.
3. Arrive early and sit at the front. It is easier to understand if you are close to the speaker and you can see their mouths moving! Hiding away at the back makes things worse.
4. Take good notes!
5. Ask questions. Lecturers like it. Honestly!
6. Make a study group and meet up after the lecture. Having a study group is a great idea. After the lecture sit down together and share your ideas. What did the lecturer say? What were the most important points? What reading do you have to do?
There are lots of good resources to help you with note taking on the Internet including this really good workbook from the University of Portsmouth.