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Studying languages in the HSC helps open a door to interesting and unique opportunities for work, study and travel. An added bonus is that languages are subjects that are extremely useful in the world outside of school, TAFE and university too. So, it makes sense that many people choose to study a language during years 11 and 12.

However, a lot of people are put off continuing their study of languages into the HSC as they feel they don’t know the best way to approach studying languages. As someone who studied both French and German during the HSC, I have compiled some tips for you to make studying languages far less daunting!

Subjects like English, History and Business Studies involve a lot of rote learning, often requiring the memorisation of facts and ideas. Learning languages is different as it instead involves building skills and knowledge that can be applied in various assessment situations, rather than purely memorising content.

Effective learning of languages comes from working in small increments over time, rather than intense studying right before an exam. I found that by consistently working on my languages, I had a lot more time on my hands to focus on content-heavy subjects right before exams too. So the benefits of this consistent study are two-fold.

My main tips for studying languages:

1.  Consistency is key!

This is by far the most important advice I have to offer. Throughout years 11 and 12, aim to complete between 30 minutes to one hour of study 3 or 4 times per week

2. Keep your book neat and your notes easy to read.

I found it helpful to divide my book into three sections: vocab, grammar rules and writing tasks

3. Colour code to make remembering easier.

For example, I would use pink highlighter for any words or phrases that I often made mistakes on. I’m not fully sure of the neuroscience behind this, but it did make a big difference for me!

4. Correct any homework or assessment tasks your teacher gives back to you.

I know this seems like such a drag, but I can say from experience this is a super valuable way to study as you can see exactly what mistakes you’re making and learn how to correct them (and ideally not make them again).

5. Download a radio app and listen to it a few times a week.

This is a great way to fill up your 3 or 4 weekly language study sessions when there’s not much work at school. There’s also the added benefit of hearing the language being spoken by native speakers which well help with your pronunciation and accent.

6. Watch movies!

Watching foreign language films is another great (and fun!) way to do this.

7. Read books in the language that you’re studying.

I find its best to read kid’s books or translations of books you’ve already read in English as they will be easier to follow. You’ll be amazed how much you can pick up!

These are all things that I found to be useful when studying for the HSC (and even now!). However, it is important to remember that everyone learns differently. Therefore, successful studying ultimately comes from you finding out what tricks and methods work best for yourself. Use the above tips as a starting point and change them to suit your own learning preferences and style. As always, happy studying and bonne chance!

by Emma Jones