Whether you’re learning Spanish, a new instrument, or a new sport, we could all benefit from accelerated learning. But the problem is, there’s only so much time in the day.

The key to accelerated learning is not just putting in more hours, but maximizing the effectiveness of the time spent learning.

Here are learning strategies that really work.

FORCE YOURSELF TO RECALL.

The least-fun part of effective learning is that it’s hard. In fact, the “Make It Stick” authors contend that when learning if difficult, you’re doing your best learning, in the same way that lifting a weight at the limit of your capacity makes you strongest. 

It’s simple, though not easy, to take advantage of this: force yourself to recall a fact. Flashcards are a great ally in this, since they force you to supply answers.

DON’T FALL FOR FLUENCY.

When you’re reading something and it feels easy, what you’re experiencing is fluency. It’ll only get you in trouble.

As research shows, it turns out that humans remember:

  • 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
  • 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
  • 20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
  • 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
  • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
  • 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
  • 80% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)

Books, classroom lectures, videos — non-interactive learning methods that results in 80-95% of information going in one ear and leaking out the other.

The point here is that instead of forcing our brains on how to remember more information with “passive” methods, we should focus our time, energy, and resources on “participatory” methods that have proven to deliver more effective results, in less time.

This means that:

  • If you want to learn how to speak a foreign language, you should focus on speaking with native speakers and gain immediate feedback (instead of mobile apps)
  • If you want to get in shape, you should work with a personal fitness trainer (instead of watching Youtube workout videos)
  • If you want to learn a new instrument, hire a local music teacher in your city
REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECT.

Looking back helps. In a Harvard Business School study, employees who were onboarded to a call center had 22.8% higher performance than the control group when they spent just 15 minutes reflecting on their work at the end of the day.

“When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy,” HBS professor Francesca Gino tells us. “They feel more confident that they can achieve things. As a result, they put more effort into what they’re doing and what they learn.”

While reflecting may seem like it leads to working less, it leads to achieving more.

 

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Whether you’re learning Spanish, a new instrument, or a new sport, we could all benefit from accelerated learning. But the problem is, there’s only so much time in the day. The key to accelerated learning is not just putting in more hours, but maximizing the effectiveness of the time spent learning. Here are learning...