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Advice for the ASL / Deaf Studies student:


On Nov 3, 2011, at 1:02 PM, a student in an ASL Linguistics class wrote:
Dear Dr. Bill,
Iíve been studying a lot but it is not enough. (I improved on my previous test scores from 44% up to 64%). I like the way you teach but can you think of any ideas or areas of improvement for me that would help me to do better on the tests so I can pass the class?
Please let me know.
- (student)

Dear Student,
Are you using the online practice tests? They are designed to help you improve your scores on the in-person test.
One secret to doing well in a linguistics class is to spend a lot of homework time "reading for understanding." Sometimes it takes four or five readings of the same paragraph to "get it." Also, if you find yourself reading a paragraph and coming across words that you don't know, that is a strong indicator that you need to go back and review the sections that covered or introduced the words that you don't know. (Or look them up in a dictionary.)
Once you understand those words, the new information makes more sense.
"Linguistics" has its own set of "jargon" or "lingo." Learning to understand "linguistics" is a lot like learning a new language. Depending on your existing vocabulary, you might have to learn over a hundred new words to do well in a 3-credit hour linguistics class.
Whenever you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, I certainly encourage you to let me know.
Dr. Bill

In a message dated 11/7/2011 5:55:04 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, (Student) writes:

Dr. Bill,
Yes I am practicing with the online quizzes as well as making flashcards with the information you give us as a study guide. I also highlight the information youíve covered when I read the chapters in the book. Any other helpful tips to better improve the grade I have? Like I said after class, I like the way you teach the class and I seem to understand the information -- I just canít connect to it when it comes time to take the test.
- (Student)

From what you indicate, you are doing all of the "right" things. You are showing up, participating, studying, etc.
At this point to improve your future test scores are a number of approaches to consider:

1. Relaxation and Visualization:
To deal with test anxiety you will need to learn to pair relaxation techniques with visualization. Practice getting into a relaxed state (via slow breathing) then visualize taking the test while feeling relaxed.

2. Volume of exposure:
Sometimes we do all the right things, and they do work somewhat, but are just not doing those things "enough." In such cases we may need to do more of them. So, we look for ways to increase our exposure. We print of a second set of flash cards and we take a roll of tape and tape the cards up all over the place: on the wall near the bed, on the wall in front of the toilet, on the dashboard of the car, on the fridge, on the door, so as to frequently and continuously throughout the day be exposed to the material.

3. Mode:
People tend to have a preferred mode of learning. Perhaps you are an "auditory learner?" Sometimes "auditory learners" take ASL or Deaf Studies classes that are "totally visual." Such students wonder why they "just aren't getting it." Maybe you ought to record yourself rehearsing your notes and then transfer that audio recording to your cell phone and plug in some earphones and listen to your notes throughout the day?

4. Timing:
The most effective time for many people to "sink in" new information is just before bedtime and immediately upon awakening. Studying material just before bedtime encourages the brain to work on it "overnight" in your dreams. Speaking of which, getting more sleep might do wonders for your test scores. Consider adding another hour or two to your nightly sleep supply.

5. Nutrition:
Make sure you are getting the various nutrients your body needs. For example: Are you taking fish oil? (Google "fish oil and learning")  Are you eating a light meal a half-hour before the test (with a combination of protein and carbs)? This can be as simple as having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It is hard for the brain to function at its best if it doesn't have the basic building blocks it needs.

- Dr. Bill

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