Four Ways To Make Studying English More Enjoyable
What is your favourite topic to talk about? For some people, it is dinosaurs, for others, it is fashion, and for some people, it might be world travel. If you had to write 2000 words right now about your favourite topic ever, do you think you would be able to do it? You probably would, and, in fact, the challenge would probably be to stop writing. Because there is just SO MUCH, you could say about it. Now let’s look at the opposite perspective. Say you had to write 2000 words on a topic you weren’t engaged with. You could easily sit there for an hour without writing a single sentence because you just do not know how to start. This can be a difficult challenge to overcome when studying English texts that you are not particularly enjoying. Here are four strategies to overcome this challenge.
Approach the text from a conflicting perspective
A common criticism that English students have is that they find a text unengaging. Or they do not agree with many of the points discussed in class. Let’s say you were studying The Catcher in the Rye in English class. Your teacher was discussing how its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, embodies the early counterculture movement through his refusal to adhere to expected societal norms. When discussing this text, your teacher might ask you to analyse Holden’s actions and discuss whether Holden embodies independence and free-spiritedness.
What if you are not engaging with the text and maybe see Holden as a fake? Yeah, he claims to be all about independence and not toeing the line, but you might feel that he doesn’t act all that outrageously and is merely talk. That is an entirely valid view to have¸ provided you can back it up with textual evidence. If you can back up your assertions with evidence from the text, in the form of quotes, you do not have to agree with everything discussed in your class. In fact, it can sometimes be good to be a bit contrary, because not only is this evidence of critical thinking, it can also be fun!
Try to find something you enjoy about a challenging text
Many English texts can be challenging to engage with. Particularly if they are about a topic you are not really keen on. For example, some students may struggle to get into Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. This is because it has a deep, complex narrative, which can be confusing unless you devote a lot of attention to it. Here’s a great tip to make studying a potentially difficult text both more enjoyable and engaging:
No one expects you to remember everything.
When analysing Jane Eyre, you do not need to remember every event in the novel. Further, simply reciting what happened in the novel would not be an effective analysis.
Instead, try to find something within a challenging text that you enjoy or relate to. Jane Eyre is a story about finding your place in the world, learning to be independent, and feminism. The headstrong protagonist learns to stand up for herself. If you find the overall story challenging, it can be helpful to focus on a specific theme or idea within the text that you find interesting and try to work some of these ideas into your analysis.
Doing so will make the study process more enjoyable. It will also strengthen your analysis because your writing will improve through discussing something you are passionate about.
Write from the perspective of your LEAST favourite character
To make studying your texts more enjoyable, write a creative piece, in the form of a journal entry. Do this from the perspective of your least favourite character. That is not a typo. When you start writing a piece from their perspective, it will help you better understand their motivations and views, and, in the process, it will aid you in your textual enjoyment.
For example, some of the texts you study may be framed in a rather black and white view of the world. Where there are ‘good’ guys on one side, and ‘bad’ guys on the other. However, ask yourself this question; do the ‘bad guys’ see themselves as ‘bad’? Or do the readers only see them as villains because the story is told from the perspective of the ‘good’ guys? If it was told from the other perspective, how might it change? What would be the same, and what would be different?
Not only is this a fun exercise, it can also help you improve your understanding of a text.
Take regular breaks when studying to keep things fresh
Remember not to work too hard. Studying English texts should be interesting and engaging. If you are feeling overwhelmed or burned-out when studying a text remember that it is okay to take a break. Relax for a bit and do something you enjoy. Call your friends, watch a movie, shoot some hoops, or do whatever it is that provides you with enjoyment.
This is effective in preventing burnout. It can also help your enjoyment of texts by freeing up your brain, and allowing it to think laterally about textual ideas. If you are sitting behind the computer for hours approaching the text from one perspective, your thinking could be restricted. This will limit your ability to express yourself. Taking some ‘me time’ not only prevents you from getting frustrated with a text. It can also help bring ideas to you, as you are not trying to force them to come. Once you have had a bit of a breather, you will be in a better position to get back to studying and enjoying a text!
Evergreen can help make your studies enjoyable and interesting
Evergreen Tutoring Services has a range of different English tutors, all of whom are skilled at helping students to engage with texts, and enjoy their study. If, after reading this, you would like some help developing strategies to find texts enjoyable and engaging, then please contact us today on 0409 083 909. After establishing your study goals, we will be able to work with you to develop a one-on-one tutoring strategy to help you achieve them. Doesn’t that sound like an engaging prospect?
Remeber: Studying English doesn’t need to be hard.
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