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Preparation before class

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Ensure that you do the pre-reading early, so that you have time to think about what you have read before the tutorial.

Preparing questions

Make a note of anything you are not clear about, and prepare a question to ask early in the tutorial to clarify your understanding. This will demonstrate your interest in the topic, and indicate to the tutor that you have done the required reading.

Preparing responses

When you read, try to engage with the ideas critically and actively. Make a note of any ideas about which you have strong opinions, positive or negative. Think about how you would refer to these ideas in the tutorial, or express your views about them. What language would you use?

Note-taking during discussions and tutorials

Tutorials can be a very useful source of ideas on a topic, not only from the lecturer or tutor, but also from other participants. So it is sensible to make a note of any ideas which may be useful to you in writing assignments or broadening your reading.

(Make sure you have something to write on and with!)

But remember – in most small classes there is an expectation that you will contribute actively to the discussion, and not simply be a 'silent participant'. In some courses marks are given for active participation in tutorials or seminars.

For that reason, you may also want to make notes about the words and the body language that people use as they participate in class discussions and debates.

Learn people's names

Make a conscious effort to learn – and use – the names of all the other people in the class.

If your teacher has not provided a class list for everyone, ask for one. If you're not sure how to pronounce someone's name, introduce yourself to them and ask them.

Using visualisation

Every class you attend is also a preparation for the next class. At the end of a class, play it back in your mind, not just for the content and ideas, but remembering how people acted, and the sort of language they used.

Then, before the next class, think about the questions and comments you have thought of, and visualise in your mind how the discussion will go. Most importantly, imagine yourself taking part: using people's names, getting their attention, asking questions, and commenting on what you've read and on what other people are saying.

The more positively you do this, the more it will help you in class.

Language for asking people's names

  • "Hello – my name's ______. What's yours?"
  • "Excuse me, I'm not sure how to pronounce your name. Could you say it for me?"
  • "How do you say your name?"
  • "Could you say your name for me? I'm not sure how to pronounce it."
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