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Published on September 24, 2019

How to Learn Fast and Remember More: 5 Effective Techniques

How to Learn Fast and Remember More: 5 Effective Techniques

Have you noticed that the older you get, the harder it becomes to learn things quickly?

I’ve certainly experienced this. When I was in my teenage years, I could learn endless things in rapid succession. This including being able to read and absorb complex books on computing in just a few hours. But when I got older, I noticed my reading slowed down — as did my ability to remember and recall facts and figures.

When I first noticed this, I became a little alarmed. However, instead of letting it get me down, I put my mind to finding some answers to the problem!

As you’ll discover in this article, there are several simple techniques to help you learn faster and remember more. And once you adopt these techniques, you’ll develop a love for learning that will last a lifetime. This will also increase your overall well-being in life, as well as boosting your confidence.

For example, imagine learning a new skill (perhaps being able to speak, read and write a new language). This could dramatically improve your life. You might secure a new job that requires a bi-lingual speaker. You might decide to retire in a new country that speaks the language. And you might even meet a new partner who falls for your verbal charms!

One thing is certain: Once you begin to enjoy learning again, you’ll reignite your life. You’ll have more energy, more drive, and much more fun.

Ready to learn the secrets of learning?

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Then, join me as I reveal five tips for you to learn more and to learn faster:

1. Keep It Short

Set out to intentionally learn in short bursts of time. I recommend aiming for 30 minutes once a day, and then build up from there if necessary. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed by trying to take in too much new information.

For example, if you’d like to begin learning a musical instrument like the guitar or piano; don’t try to learn too much, too soon. This will likely be counterproductive, as you’ll not only tire your brain — but you’ll most likely tire your fingers too! Instead, spend half an hour a day on learning your instrument. This will allow you to make steady but sure progress.

The same applies to reading a business or self-improvement book. If you want to successfully digest the key information, then don’t try to read the whole book in one session. You’ll take in much more if you just read a chapter a day.

2. Go Old School

Have you noticed that most learning nowadays involves computers? While this can be a great way to learn, I’d also encourage you from time to time to write things down with pen and paper.

Writing down what you learn has double the impact, as you’re actually making yourself acknowledge the fact twice, rather than hearing it once and letting it slip away. And by writing it by hand, you’ll have more investment and care towards the words you write down. This will make what you’re learning more significant and memorable to you.

Think of it this way: Old school is the new school!

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Personally, I like to carry a notepad with me at all time. This enables me to write down ideas that I come across during the day. And it can be especially useful in meetings or presentations, where I can easily jot down key themes to work on later.

3. Take a Nap

Studies show that once you’ve crammed lots of new info into your brain, you can help better store it in your memory by taking a nap.[1] This is because taking a nap (as well as getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours sleep per night) helps keep your attention span and mental alertness at their peak.

Napping after studying can also help your subconscious mind process the stuff that your conscious mind has taken in.

So whether you’re trying to cram for an exam, prepare for an important work presentation, or you simply want to remember the tips in this article — make sure you take a nap when you need to. This will ensure that your brain and memory are both operating at their best.

If you’re still unconvinced by the power of napping, then consider this…

Researchers from Saarland University in Germany[2] found that a short daytime nap of around 45-60 minutes significantly boosted brain function. In fact, they found that learning and memory could be improved by up to five times. (Now that’s something for you to remember!)

4. Don’t Multitask

When learning something new, it’s vital that you put 100% of your focus on the task.

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For instance, trying to learn Spanish while cooking dinner and checking your emails may SEEM like you’re being efficient — but the truth is that you’ll retain way less by doing this than if you just dedicate a solid 30 minutes to studying Spanish.

Years of observing people working in offices has convinced me of the fallacy of multitasking. Sure, it looks like multitaskers are super-busy and productive. But in reality, they’re spending their time and energy in a very unproductive manner. It’s a bit like trying to run, dance and cycle all at the same time — you won’t get anywhere, and you’ll look ridiculous too!

If you’re a multitasker, then please check out my article: Can’t Focus? Why You’ve Been Doing It Wrong and How to Focus Better

5. Drink More Water

When I was at college, I hardly ever drank water. I was much more interested in drinking Coca-Cola. Not only did these taste great, but I mistakenly believed that their high-sugar content would help keep my energy levels topped up. In reality, these drinks cause a dangerous sea-saw in energy and blood sugar levels.[3]

I became interested in drinking water, when not only my energy started to fade — but my overall health too. It was at this time that it became obvious to me that I was chronically dehydrated through consuming almost exclusively soft drinks.

As soon as I began drinking 2 to 3 litres of mineral water a day, I noticed a HUGE difference. I felt much more lively. My appetite improved. And… I found that my brain worked better than before. I could learn things easier and quicker than previously, and I also discovered that my ability to recall info was boosted too.

But you don’t need to just take my word for the benefits of drinking water. According to a recent scientific study, drinking adequate amounts of water during exams was shown to improve students’ grades.[4]

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Bottom Line

So there you have it: Five tips for boosting your ability to learn quicker and faster than ever.

If you want to revitalize your learning ability, then start putting these five tips into action immediately. Sure, it requires a bit of investment on your part — but the results will definitely be worth it.

Just imagine…

Once you realize that you can remember and recall things easily again, your confidence will soar, and you’ll almost certainly get the ‘learning bug’!

With your new found drive, motivation and superpower memory, you’ll be able to tackle things you may have only dreamed of doing before. For example, you could go back to college to study coding or philosophy. You could create a business plan for that company you’ve also thought of starting. And you could even start crafting the first chapter of that book you’ve always wanted to write.

Being able to process and remember information will set you apart from others. You’ll be known as a quick-thinker who always has the necessary facts at their fingertips. What’s more, you’ll start to appear younger than your age — as your quick and agile mind will be more like that of someone 10 years younger than your real age.

It’s no exaggeration to say that being able to learn faster and remember more will transform your life for the better.

The only question that remains is… what are you going to learn next?

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: João Silas via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness Why Am I So Tired Even After Rest? How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

12 Surprising Benefits of Learning a New Language

12 Surprising Benefits of Learning a New Language

Learning a new language is a big deal.

You’re learning a completely new form of communication, and it enables you to communicate with people you never could have before.

But there’s benefits to learning a language that you might not have expected when you started the journey. I’ve personally experienced this having learned 3 languages in my life (Korean, English, and Spanish).

Think about the effect that losing weight has on someone’s life. While most people get into it for a healthier lifestyle, there can be surprising benefits like increased confidence, being more outgoing, and increased mental clarity.

The same thing can apply to language learning.

In this article, we’ll share the 12 surprising benefits you’ll experience when you learn a language.

1. Learn Anything Faster

Learning a new language is mental agility training at its best. The exercise in cognitive problem solving can without a doubt be applied to almost any problem we want to solve in other areas.

Your memory retention is also improved when learning a new language.[1] Absorbing and retaining more information can significantly shorten your learning curve, because you can spend more time learning new information instead of re-learning something you’ve already learned before.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once you learn a new language, not only are you able to learn other languages faster (simply due to understanding the process), but you’ve already retained key skills for learning several other languages without even knowing it.

For example, if you recently learned how to speak Spanish, you’ve automatically entered the world of languages from the latin root, such as Portuguese, Italian, French, and Romanian. In fact, between these languages there are over a thousand words that are exactly the same, if not very similar to each other.

Screen-Shot-2016-03-07-at-8.00.09-AM

    Notice the similarity of the words between these languages.

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    2. Improve Your Math Skills

    For those of us who didn’t grow up with natural talents in mathematics, no need to fear.

    A study was done at Massachusetts in 2007, where The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages stated that:[2]

    “Children who study a foreign language, even when this second language study takes time away from the study of mathematics, outperform students who do not study a foreign language and have more mathematical instruction during the school day.”

    In another study published in the University of Michigan’s Language Learning journal (Armstrong and Rogers, 1997), students who studied just one semester of a foreign language for just 90 minutes per week scored significantly higher in maths and language arts.

    If you think about it, it makes sense. Learning a language involves a structural and logical process, which is the same type of thinking that makes you thrive in mathematics.

    3. Become a Better Listener

    This is a skillset that comes in handy for any situation throughout our lives.

    If you’re trying to build a real connection with anyone, there’s nothing better than intentional listening without interruption. This is one of the key elements taught in Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    When learning a language, there’s no choice but to train yourself to listen carefully, because you’re trying to make out every accent, pronunciation, and tone used by the other person. And if you’re just starting out, you’re forced to listen because you can’t speak the language!

    Most importantly, learning a new language helps you step into the shoes of people different to yourself and see the world in a completely different way— therefore developing empathy for others.

    4. Enhances Your Focus

    In a study, published online in the journal, Brain and Language, individuals who spoke more than one language were observed through an fMRI, while performing word comprehension tasks.[3] This is a far more powerful than the best drugs which only delay the symptoms by 6–12 months.[4]

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    The American Academy of Neurology has performed studies showing that speaking more than one language increases the amount of neural pathways in the brain, allowing information to be processed through a greater variety of channels.

    7. Improve Your Native Language

    We discussed how learning one language can help you pick up not only other languages, but familiarize yourself with languages originating from the same root.

    What most people don’t mention enough, is that it can also help you improve your native language.

    According to an Impact of the Second Language Education study, studying a second language alone will significantly improve your first language skills in areas relating to grammar, reading, vocabulary, and speaking skills.[5]

    This makes sense because learning a new language allows you to understand the structures and breakdown of a language, whereas this is something you likely intuitively picked up when you learned your native language.

    8. Increase Your Creativity

    Language learning is a lot like putting together the pieces of a new puzzle.

    You understand several, but not all of the words that are thrown at you, so you have to force yourself to be creative and fill the missing gaps on your own.

    creative-brain2

      This research concludes that bilingual individuals have a more “out of the box” thinking approach than monolingual individuals.[6]

      While most creativity training occurs in waves (meaning on and off), there’s no taking breaks when you’re having a conversation with someone. You either have to force yourself to become creative in your interpretation and speaking skills, or you’ll need to face up to the awkward silence that follows.

      9. Culturally Knowledgeable

      Language learning is not only about communicating in a foreign language, but it’s about experiencing a new culture.

      The first reason is that meeting foreign people is embedded in the core of language learning. In order to practice and improve your new language, you’ll need to work with a language teacher, use conversation exchanges, or attend language meetups. This is similar to how you need to just ride the bicycle instead of watching videos about it: it’s just part of the process.

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      The majority of conflicts between people in the world come from a lack of understanding of the other side. Studying a new language not only helps you understand where the other person is coming from, but the cultural knowledge you gain can help others feel more connected to you.

      10. Open up New Career Opportunities

      In the past decade, we’ve experienced a rapidly growing trend of globalization. With the Internet era, there is no such thing as doing local business. Nearly every business that opens up today is an online business, and has the ability to reach a global market in seconds.

      Big corporations are working fast to expand internationally to Asia, Europe, and South America, and understanding a foreign language will in the future likely become as standard as knowing Microsoft Word.

      Irene Missen, a language specialist at a top recruitment agency, Euro London, says that languages can open doors for you, and estimates a language can add between 10% and 15% to your wage.[7]

      When it comes to advancing your career, it’s critical to leave no doors closed. Learning a new language takes time, and it’s far better to learn it before you need it than to be unprepared at your next job interview.

      11. Experience a New Way of Traveling

      This is a big one, and often one that’s hard to understand unless you know another language.

      For example, learning how to speak Spanish before you visit Spain for the first time, will give you an entirely different travel experience versus not knowing the language.

      When you can speak the language of the place you’re traveling to, you’re no longer dependent on the typical tourism tips that you’ll get from Tripadvisor. You can build relationships with the locals, and discover restaurants, hot spots, and excursions that tourism websites will never be able to share with you.

      You get to experience the new culture from the eyes of a local, instead of a tourist.

      12. Deepen Your Relationships

      Almost everyone who comes from a different cultural background can probably empathize with this point. With my limited ability to speak Korean, I struggled growing up with Korean family members.

      Luckily, I was able to improve my skills over time (surprisingly, from learning Spanish). But I constantly see people who struggle to have that connection with their family members, friends, or even life partner, because of this language barrier.

      As we shared in this post, the majority of the world’s problem comes down to communication problems. And there’s no bigger barrier to communication than the languages we are able to speak with each other!

      Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Science Direct: Working memory development in monolingual and bilingual children
      [2] Daily News Minder: The benefits of learning a foreign language
      [3] AAAS: Bilingual brains better equipped to process information))

      Results showed that multi-lingual individuals were better at filtering out competing words than one-language speaking individuals. This ability to tune out competing words benefits in blocking out distractions to focus on the task at hand.

      As your listening skill improves, it only makes sense that it enhances your focus as well. Just like learning any new skill, learning a language requires your full, undivided attention. One slight distraction can mean the difference between one meaning and a completely different one.

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      Over time, your brain will be trained to maintain this level of focus.

      5. Boost Your Confidence

      When we set out to achieve something and find success, it boosts our confidence levels — no matter how small the progress.

      Even being able to carry a 30-second conversation with a native speaker can make you more confident, because you know it’s something you wouldn’t have been able to do before.

      “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” — E.E. Cummings

      I still remember the “aha moment” I experienced when I was living in Medellin, Colombia. I was living with a roommate who couldn’t speak a word of English when I first moved in. After a few months of using an online app to learn Spanish, I was able to get to a conversation level of fluency. It amazed me how I was suddenly able to speak to someone that I couldn’t have fathomed speaking to before.

      Needlessly to say, as the language barrier disappeared, our positive perception of each other increased dramatically, and so did our friendship.

      This confidence boost only pushed me to learn more, engage with more native speakers, and it translated into more confidence in every aspect of my life.

      Author of Lean Forward, Eric Holtzclaw, states that it is powerful how even a tiny change in perspective can pull you out of a funk and give “you the boost you need to take on that next challenge.”

      6. Prevent Potential Brain Diseases

      Improving our health is something that should be a priority for every one of us, no matter how old we are. Most of us consider improving our health in a few major areas, like our physical appearance. But we tend to miss out on the most important part that runs our entire body — the brain.

      We are nothing without the vital functions of our brain, and we need to prioritize its health like we would with any other vital organ in our body.

      brain-languagemap

        When it comes to the brain, learning a new language can prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by 4.5 years.((Neurology: Bilingualism delays age at onset of dementia, independent of education and immigration status

        [4] Alzheimer’s Association: Medications for Memory
        [5] Rype: 8 Science-Backed Benefits of Learning a New Language
        [6] Cerebrum Dana Foundation: The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual
        [7] Guardian: Learning a foreign language: Now you’re talking

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