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How to LOVE your English texts (not hate them)

By Subahaa Maheswaran in Easy Reading
7th of February 2020
Studying English texts

After devouring your English texts once or twice, you may have already grown sick of them. Then, you have to learn about them in your English periods, revise for assessments, term holidays and then exam revision. That’s an excessive overexposure of a couple of texts – no wonder by the end of the year you want to burn your books in a bonfire. However, this bonfire shouldn’t be happening until after your exams, so how do you hold on until then?

 

Set goals

One of the main reasons why you may begin to get sick of your texts is because you have no end goal or sense that you’ll achieve anything. Give yourself some motivation! It can be over-arching goals for this year or just what you want to achieve daily in English.

For example: I want to remember at least one textual reference for each theme, I want to find two differences between characters, I want to be able to write an essay on a quote-based prompt.

I remember back in year 9, I got sick of this text we were studying because the teacher dragged it out with no purpose. If the teacher won’t give you direction, make the direction yourself. Become more independent and responsible for your learning. When you’re in the exam room, you won’t have anyone but yourself to rely on.

 

Moderation

One big mistake I made when I was rereading: I would try to read as much as I could in one sitting to finish the book quickly. As a consequence, the process became incredibly gruelling and I was just waiting to finally finish the thing. While English is an important subject, it’s not the only subject that you’re sitting an exam for.

Like how you eat junk food in moderation because too much is bad for you (or at least try): study your texts in moderation to avoid overexposure.

Maybe set an allocated time for you to spend on English depending on your attention span. If you’re losing focus, switch to another subject, take a break and get back to it later, etc. You could also use a study group so there’s more incentive to keep focused but also a share the workload.

Overall, don’t overwork and overload yourself on English thinking that’ll get you good marks: you’ll just exhaust yourself unnecessarily.

 

Find what you like about each text

Learn to love your book by identifying what you really like about it, purely as entertainment. Favourite characters, plot twists, themes. You don’t have to constantly think of these books analytically. For example, when I was reading ‘Station Eleven’ for the first time, I really enjoyed the mystery behind ‘The Prophet’. Probably my favourite character from ‘Rear Window’ was Lisa, to the point that I ended up writing my creative response from her point of view.

If you start viewing the texts much more positively, you’ll end up enjoying them more and eventually love them.

 

Make it fun

English can get rather mundane and dry at times so combat this making it more fun for yourself. When I was making notes while reading my books, I used lots of different colours, washi tape, mind maps, etc. Instead of plain notes on each character, make character profiles. Role-play scenes with your friends to help you remember quotes and textual references. Use images or real-life objects to represent symbols/motifs. Eg. Toy camera – voyeurism theme in Rear Window, Poppet – witchcraft symbol in ‘The Crucible’.

 

Other interpretations/different versions of the same text

Especially with plays, there should be multiple versions of the same story. It could be a different interpretation or the story may be changed to fit a different culture. If you’re getting sick of the original/version you’re studying, maybe checking out a different version may spark your interest again.

For example:

→ ‘Throne of Blood’ – 1957 Japanese film which converts the story of Macbeth to fit Feudal Japan
→ Opera version of ‘The Crucible’ by Robert Ward
→ ‘It had to be murder’ by Cornell Woolrich – short story which inspired ‘Rear Window’
→ ‘Romeo + Juliet’ directed by Baz Luhrmann
→ The ‘Iliad’- ‘Ransom’ (by David Malouf) is inspired by its mythology and story

 

Studying in general can be difficult. Studying texts that you’ve shoved down your throat multiple times is probably worse. However, you can make the experience not as bad as it seems. I’m not saying the techniques I’ve suggested are your only options nor are definite solutions. The point is: learn to love your texts in whatever way you can. Your knowledge and understanding of them will play a major role in your assessments and exam.

Subahaa Maheswaran

 Year 12, 2019

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