Today, Alexander can’t wait to finally get his English schoolwork back. Until now, he had a queasy feeling in his stomach, because his performance was just sufficient and he was often lucky to get a positive grade. But for the last schoolwork, he had been especially diligent in learning the vocabulary and he also had a good feeling about the writing. “It’s bound to be a B this time,” he was optimistic – he didn’t even want to think about getting an even better grade.
When Mrs. Mayer came to class with the notebooks and handed them out in order of grades – “At first the best!” as she always said – his face grew longer and longer, for she had already reached the “weak C’s” and his name still hadn’t come up. “Yes, dear Alexander,” she snapped him out of his gloomy thoughts, “I’m afraid it turned out to be only a four again!”
As he improved the schoolwork at home, he was annoyed that it was again the same stupid timing errors that had mostly messed up his grades so far, too. “If I didn’t have timing errors,” he grumbled, “it would have been a B.” When he looked through the errors of the previous schoolwork, which were thickly painted in red, he discovered many an old “acquaintance” in the form of a missing “s” or a superfluous comma, which had also “crept in” to his schoolwork now. And also the consonant doubling in the present participle gave him at least two additional error points every time …
What can Alexander do against always falling into the same traps, struggling with the same annoying “mistakes”? He has already taken the first small step towards getting out of this mess: he has recognized that there is a type of learning content – in the case of language objects, for example, it is simple grammar rules – which, with the best will in the world, cannot be memorized in the long term, or which simply do not occur to one at the right time.
To avoid such “stupid” mistakes in the future, you have to collect them systematically. To do this, it’s best to take all the exercises corrected by the teacher, as well as the exercise books, and write down all the words and sentences with mistakes, both incorrectly and correctly (!), on a sheet of paper. Sort these problematic cases according to the type of error, e.g. time error, wrong preface, missing genitive s etc.. Then look for the corresponding rules or explanations in your exercise books, worksheets or textbooks.
You anchor these sources of error and the corresponding rules in your memory by making a learning poster for them. For this you need a large sheet of solid paper (DIN A2 or even better A1). You might use the back of an old poster of a pop star you can’t see anymore, but wrapping paper or the back of used wrapping paper are also good!
On this learning poster you write down all these rules and explanations in large letters. In the middle you put the ones that have come up most often so far. Each problem point should be accompanied by an additional keyword, a suitable drawing or a picture. Of course you use different colors and you should choose a font at least large enough so that you can still read the text from two to three meters away. A learning poster should be designed in the same way as a collage, which you probably once had to make from pictures of old illustrations in drawing class. Use your imagination, add examples, key words, mnemonic devices, etc. You can also write out the points on small sheets of paper first and then glue them to the poster. The important thing is that the learning content “jumps out” at the viewer, even from a distance.
Now hang up this poster in a place in your home where you spend a lot of time or where you pass by several times a day. Then always stop for a moment and take a closer look at one or two of your personal problem points. The secret to this learning tip, besides focusing on a few learning points, is to repeat them frequently over a long period of time. In addition, the chosen “pictures” can also support the learning content in your memory permanently anchor.
Such a learning poster does not have to meet any artistic requirements and it is not about other people being able to do something with your poster. It is, so to speak, your own personal poster, which should advertise for the right rules and against the mistakes. Of course, you can also distribute several posters in the apartment – as long as your roommates agree. But be careful: if there are too many posters, there is a risk that you won’t even notice them in detail, just like the advertisements on the streets.