35Learn to Be Active in Class

by Danny K. Howard, EAP Associate Director

Many students who read these study tips will be starting NIC next week or in April. Well, NIC teachers like students who are active in class. Being active helps your grade and it helps you to become a better student. Here are 3 easy tips for you to become more active when you enter NIC.

1. First, sit near the front.

This is an important thing for all students to do. Of course, everyone can't sit in the front. But not many students want to do this. Why is this important? Well, when you sit near the front, you are more likely to speak in class. Try it out for a week when you come to NIC. I am sure that you will be even more active when you do this. 

2. Second, prepare for questions ahead of class.

Being active is actually something that you can plan for, but some students don't know how they can do this. Here are 3 ways you can prepare ahead to improve your performance:

a. Summarize what you learned in your homework.

When teachers give homework, they always review it in class the next day. This idea is important, so you don't forgot what you studied. If you read a chapter of your book, write down the main points of what you learned. Then when the teachers ask you a question, you can be more active and share an answer.

b. Write down vocabulary that you learned. 

Of course, adding to your vocabulary is important to listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Impress your teacher by using some of the vocabulary words when you discuss in class.

c. Write down questions or ideas that you have about the homework.

If you are reading about a topic that you don't understand, write down a question that you want to ask the teacher. Or if you have a comment or idea to add to the reading, write it down. Then share it in class when you discuss it. Most textbooks have space to do this in the margins.

Below is an example of what I am showing you. On the left, the student has summarized the reading, written down vocabulary, thought of a question to ask or share in class. On the right is the textbook reading.

* 10/27, In France police killed 2 young Africans→ police→11/7, curfew & arrested many→11/8, riots in 300 towns (burned churches & other bldgs)
* Problem→poor ppl, no jobs, housing etc.

riot= ppl protest w/violence
curfew = time to be home
adolescent = young person

Opinion/Idea: I don’t agree with this action by the young ppl. Why did they riot? Couldn't they be peaceful?

On October 27, the deaths of two adolescents by police officers sparked riots in France. By November 8, the violence had spread to nearly 300 towns. On November 7, the government had imposed curfews across France and sent 9,500 law enforcers to try to restore order. During the previous night, rioters burned 1,400 churches, schools, and businesses. Police arrested 395 youths. The dead teens were aged 15 and 17. One youth had parents from Tunisia. The other was born in Mauritania. Both nations are in Africa. The teens were at a soccer game when the police arrived. They fled to a nearby power station, where they were killed by an electrical charge. The unrest focused attention on the problems in France's poor suburbs. Residents there complain of being refused jobs, housing, and other opportunities.

3. Next, focus on the speaker and move your pencil!

When someone is speaking in class, you should pay attention and look at the person. And teachers really like it when students take notes on what they are saying, especially if it is important. Of course, when you take notes from your teacher, always remember to continue giving eye contact. During group discussion, focus on the people in your group, too. Make sure you pay attention to any speaker in the classroom. Teachers like this. It’s called “being attentive.”

4. Finally, lead...don't follow

There are many chances to have small group discussion and do group projects. When this happens, teachers always know who their class leaders are. So why don't you try to lead instead of follow this year? For example, if the teacher gives you some questions for group discussion, try to be the first person to say, "OK, let's get started!" Or when someone has an opinion or idea, ask questions like, "Why do you think so?" to lead the group into deeper discussion. All of these things show that you are a leader.


Of course, doing your homework every day and coming to class are also very important. The main reasons you come to school is to get an education, to interact with teachers and classmates, and to make your best effort to grow. All of these things are much easier, if you just try to be active. Good luck to you all! I hope to see you very soon!