Whether you want to learn a new language or create a new hobby to broaden your horizons, or just want to make the most educational value out of your time, knowing how to learn effectively should be on the top of your priority list. While basic things like memorizing via mnemonics and reading while taking notes have traditionally been taught as effective methods of learning something new, you will need much more than that if you want to significantly increase your learning efficiency. Check out these tips for becoming a more efficient learner.
1) Cultivate an inquisitive mindset.
2) Employ multi-sensory techniques.
There’s definitely more than one way to learn something. It’s simply a matter of involving more than one of your senses. For instance, rather than listening to a podcast, which only involves auditory learning, read and rehearse the information aloud instead. This way, you’ll get to learn using your visual and verbal senses. You may also describe what you’ve learned to a friend, take down notes, or drawing mental pictures. Trying other ways to learn enables you to fully absorb information and make sure they are inculcated in your mind. According to Judy Willis, a neuroscientist and a teacher, “The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is.”
3) Teach what you’ve learnt to someone else.
Educators have long noted how teaching what you’ve learnt to someone else can be one of the best ways to educate yourself effectively. You can start by using your own words to relay information. This process is guaranteed to help cement new knowledge in your brain. You can then find a way to share your newly-acquired knowledge. It can be through writing or by engaging in a group discussion.
4) Connect old ideas with new ones.
Relational learning, or connecting new ideas to things that you already know, is another great way to become an effective learner. For instance, if you are currently learning about Leonardo da Vinci, you associate him with your prior knowledge about his works like the Mona Lisa and the historical period in which he lived. Neuroscience has shown that connecting ideas together allows for different neurons from different nerual networks to connect, thereby allowing the brain to remember much better.
5) Gain practical experience.
Learning the typical way involves reading textbooks, listening to a teacher’s discussion, doing library research, or attending online lectures. While absorbing the information and writing it down are essential, there’s nothing like putting what you’ve learnt into actual use. Say you’re trying to learn how to play a musical instrument, practice a piece on a regular basis. Or if you are learning a foreign language, you can try speaking a few words with another person or surround yourself with practical situations till you master it.
6) Look up the answers instead of struggling to remember.
7) Take relevant tests.
While spending more time studying may appear to be one sure-fire way to learn effectively, studies show that taking tests actually reinforces better retention of information, even if it isn’t covered on the test. Result reveals that students who studied and were tested showed better long-term recollection of information, even those that were not covered by the tests. On the other hand, those who studied but were not tested displayed significantly lower recollection results.
8) Utilize scaffolding strategy.
9) Know your own learning rhythm.
10) Asking for help should be your last resort.
We learn best when we are able to arrive at a conclusion by deducting the answer. Then it follows that asking for help is somewhat of a shortcut to learning. Therefore, you should always try your best to solve a problem that arises first before asking for help. Of course, this is not to say that asking for help is detrimental to the learning experience. On the contrary, the assistance of others may be an important stepping stone to you grasping a concept. However, asking for help should be the last resort, not the first.