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Thomson Nelson > Higher Education > Canadian Criminal Justice: A Primer 2nd Edition > 

Learning in a Second Language

If English is not your first language, you may find working with abstract concepts and specialized terminology in a Canadian college especially difficult. Despite this demanding situation, there are no more hours in the week, and the term progresses as quickly as ever.

If you are a student in this situation, you need to be strategic. The following are some time-saving strategies that may help you with your work:

  • Before you begin reading a chapter, look it over carefully. Pay special attention to headings and subheadings, words in bold text or italics, and summaries. This strategy can make the actual reading more meaningful and increase your reading rate.

  • Always attend your class unless you have a very good reason for missing it. While you are in class, try to learn as much as possible. What are the main ideas? List new words in the margin of your notebook. Listen for clues, such as "This would make a good exam question" and mark them in your notes.

  • Review class notes within 24 hours after you have written them down. If you do not understand them, talk to the instructor or a classmate. Think about the information and ways of remembering the main ideas and any new words.

  • While it may be tempting, try not to sacrifice sleep in order to get more work done. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk of becoming ill and may also interfere with your memory skills.


It is a challenge to learn a second language, but you can enhance your language skills by practising the second language every day. Read newspapers or magazines for relaxation, and talk with your instructors and peers as much as possible.

From Joan Fleet and Denise Reaume, Power Over Time: Student Success with Time Management (Toronto: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994), p. 102.

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