How to Take Effective Notes in Your Second Language

Speaking, reading, and writing in English are all completely different skills. Since taking notes in English requires two of these, it can be pretty difficult. Here are some tips to make the process easier.

Do the Reading in Advance

A girl taking notes

It is often much easier to comprehend sentences after reading or hearing them more than once. By completing the assigned reading before class, you will already be familiar with the subject matter that will be taught. This means you will be able to focus your attention on your note-taking and not simply on translating.

Don’t Write Everything

It may seem a bit backward, but it is actually more helpful to avoid writing down every word when taking notes. This saves time and makes the process easier. As long as your notes are detailed enough that you can understand them later, there’s no need to write down what an instructor says word-for-word while taking notes. Taking an English writing course can also make writing in shorthand easier.

Use a Template

Many instructors use similar formats for all of their lessons. Take advantage of this by creating a template based on one lecture that can be used for every lesson. This can be an outline including headings, subheadings, definitions, and examples, making it easier to fill in and stay organized.

Ask for Help

Whether it’s meeting with the instructor after class or going over the notes with an English language instructor, it’s important to reach out for help whenever you need it. Write down any words or definitions you don’t understand during the lesson and ask for clarification from an instructor, tutor, or peer afterward.

Listen to the Lesson

It’s easy to get wrapped up in note-taking and completely miss the point of the lesson! Although it is difficult, be sure to pay attention to the lesson itself and not just the notes. This is important for understanding what you’ve written down while you review.

Taking notes in English is important for comprehension, but it’s sometimes difficult to do without help. If you need support from a tutor, register for a course with ALCC American Language today!

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