2-track and 3-track revision strategies

Last week I shared a simple strategy for reading, by grouping your reading in section of three units, and advancing one unit at a time, thus ensuring you read each unit three times over.

This week I have another strategy to share, which is similar in process, in that it’s designed to encourage multiple repetitions of the same material. I use it for more traditional type textbooks or other materials, rather than straight reading material. In fact, I’m using it with a French for Reading book I’m working on.

So, say we’re working through a textbook, and we reach chapter six. Once we start chapter six, our new material, we incorporate a revision portion to our studies, starting back in chapter one. So now we’ve got 2-tracks to our study – new material moving from chapter six forward, and revision starting from chapter one and moving forward. The revision material is/should be far enough back that it’s feeling familiar, not overly difficult, and not too time-consuming. So it shouldn’t be as taxing to go through it, and it should be consolidating that information.

Generally, I’d say keep the pacing the same – so by the time you hit chapter ten, your second-track hits chapter five. Then, if you like, you can add a third track, beginning back at chapter one. So now your third-track of revision is much further back in your course, and should feel super-easy (hopefully!).

You can, of course, increase the pacing of the revision sections, to catch up to the new material. If you do that, then you can start new “revision tracks” as the older ones catch up to your new material. This will provide even more opportunity for revision.

This is also a good strategy for students who are finding new material difficult, but don’t want to fall further behind. Treat your “new material” track as a light preview/introduction and take some of the pressure of yourself from learning it completely. Then, the second time you hit that material, that can be the occasion for really wrestling with it and solidifying it. And then, the third time through will be revision.

Obviously, there is nothing new or amazing about this, and neither is it limited to languages! But it’s a strategy I find useful and I thought it worth sharing.