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Published on October 14, 2019

Essential Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively

Essential Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively

You’re never too old to learn, and this isn’t just some fancy statement; this is many people’s motto in life.

We all learn different things ever since we are little — our parents teach us morals, our teachers teach us maths, society teaches us acceptance, our work teaches us how to do our job, etc. Even if you’re 70, life has a whole new book of things to teach you, you just need to have the heart and willingness to learn.

Learning is important to our everyday life. Everything originates from learning. If you didn’t learn to read, you’ll not be able to read this article. If you didn’t learn to speak, you probably can’t express your thoughts and needs to others today. What you learn today will always benefit your current and future self. The question is, with such limited time in life, how can we learn effectively?

In this article, I’ll introduce to you the essential learning methods and some of the best ways to learn.

The Best Ways To Learn

There are so many different ways of learning, and here, I’ve handpicked some of the best ways that will definitely help you in being an effective learner.

1. Your Comfort Zone

or most people, staying in their own comfort zone opens their minds and helps them retain information. For instance, many learn and retain information when they’re taking notes on a piece of paper; others learn by watching videos and documentaries relevant to the topic.

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By finding out how you’re comfortable learning will surely help you in effectively retaining new information and, you will remember it for a longer period of time.

2. Learning Through Play

Just like children, you can learn through play. This doesn’t literally mean building blocks out of plastic Lego, but by implementing what you have learned. If you’ve just learned a new way to make quiche, the best way of making sure you know it properly and remember it is by immediately making it at home.

3. Pass That Information On

If you’ve learned something fresh, pass the information on to someone else. When you go through what you’ve learned and are explaining the process to someone else, you will learn and remember better.

In classrooms, there is a frequent activity of dividing students into groups and one of them explains to other classmates what the day’s lecture was about. This not only helps the speaker understand concepts better, but when other classmates are being reinforced with the lesson, they also remember better.

4. Rote Learning Is a Big NO

Many people try to memorize word by word what they have been taught, as if they were sitting in a written exam. Teachers discourage rote learning in students as well because by only memorizing some words, the goal isn’t met. The main point here is to truly understand and connect the dots of what you’ve learned.

The generation today has grown up with computers and is used to getting all the information needed at the click of a button, and without really understanding the concept, people are used to copy pasting. Rote learning is just like that. You just pick up the information from somewhere and learn it word for word, which doesn’t really help you understand anything, only to memorize.

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Learning is all about being able to express what you have understood about a particular concept. It is being able to give your own opinion about a certain event, instead of just knowing the facts. Somewhere along the lines of life, we do want to learn new things, but some of us have the attention span of a goldfish or simply haven’t known the smart ways of learning.

We need to understand that there is not just one way of learning and understanding different concepts. Learning is taking place all around us, from the day we are born. There are various methods of learning. Some people may be more receptive to one kind of method, and some to another. A smart person would try and find out which method of learning is best suited to them, and use that to enhance their learning process. The following learning methods will be helpful for you.

Different Types of Learning Methods

Essentially, there are 7 types of learning methods that researchers have compiled over time, other features of learning basically just fall under the umbrella of these listed types:

  • Visual: This type of learning requires visual material to understand, these could be in the form of videos, graphics and images. This method helps people in visually understanding what they see.
  • Aural: This kind of learning style uses audio like music and sounds to understand.
  • Verbal: This method is usually for people who like to speak and narrate their stories in order to learn. This can be done through scripted speeches, impromptu narrations or even just daily conversations.
  • Logical: Many people like learning through logic, they won’t understand if they’re just spoon-fed something. They want proper reasoning to why and how something happened for them to properly learn something.
  • Social: This is when people learn better when they’re divided into groups and are with other people. These social groups help expand their horizons and gives them confidence to ask questions and solve problems.
  • Solitary: This learning style is usually just meant for people who prefer to learn alone in a confined place that has no distractions whatsoever. They are either easily distracted with other people or don’t feel confident enough to be with other people while learning.
  • Physical: This is a learning technique where people learn through physical acts like using their hands or simply by the sense of touch. This technique is used when children are learning, to help them understand what fluffy is, they are asked to touch a cotton cushion or a hairy cat. This is how children learn and understand better.

What types of learning methods suit you better? You can find out in this article: How This Learning Style Quiz Can Help You Make the Most of Your Life

But in order to support any kind of learning listed above, you have to be physically fit and healthy. Your mind and body need to be nurtured in order for any kind of learning method to be effective. Here are some of the things that can be done on a daily basis to keep a receptive mind and body.

Habits to Keep Your Mind and Body Receptive

To be an effective listener, you also have to be able to retain that information. People learn new things every day, but only a portion of those people are able to remember what they learned by the end of the day. There are some tried and tested home remedies that have worked like a charm for people who are looking to increase their memory or generally want enhanced memory retention.

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Sleep More

An active brain is one that sleeps almost 8-10 hours a day. If you’re overworked and sleep for barely five hours, there are chances that your brain needs rest to retain information.

But if you’re somebody who sleeps for 11-15 hours a day, you may just be too lazy and need to engage yourself into healthy activities to keep your brain active and running.

Healthy Diet

include lots of protein and almonds in your diet. Drink lots of water and generally stay away from fatty foods. You don’t have to quickly switch over to salads and all, but just generally try to adapt to a healthier eating pattern. Limit use of alcohol and caffeine because they slow down your brain causing a hindrance in your learning journey.

Here’re 15 Brain Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly to Keep Your Mind Sharp.

Socialize

By meeting new people every day, you’re not only giving your brain a chance to open up, but you’re also having your brain exercise by getting new information. Talking to people and engaging into daily conversations helps the flow of information going.

Brain Challenging Activities

The only reason why you’re not an effective learner is because your brain hasn’t yet been exposed to challenges where you really have to think and work your mind. There are many activities that increase your motor skills like puzzles, mathematical questions, even solving crossword in your daily newspaper. You can also try these 11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory.

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When your brain is active and running, you possess a better chance of learning new things and actually retaining that information.

Final Thoughts

Learning has been a safe haven for so many people, whether it’s about learning to cook a complicated dish for a family gathering or simply about sewing a button shirt; we all learn and inspire every day.

The best among us are people that don’t let anything come in the way of their learning process — not age, not health, not money; these people make it their life motto to wake up every day and learn at least one new thing before going to bed. And these people are all around us, WE are these people.

The learning techniques mentioned in this article are effective ways and tips for you who like to learn every day. The knowledge we gain today can benefit our career, relationships and our everyday life. Learn today, succeed tomorrow!

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Noltner via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

One of the biggest realizations I had as a kid is that teaching in school could be hit or miss for students. We all have our own different types of learning styles. Even when I was in study groups, we all had our own ways of uncovering solutions to questions.

It wasn’t only until later in my life did I realize how important it is to know your own learning style. As soon as you know how you learn and the best way to learn, you can better retain information. This information could be crucial to your job, future promotions, and overall excelling in life.

Best of all about this information is that, it’s not hard to figure out what works best for you. There are broad categories of learning styles, so it’s a matter of finding which one we gravitate towards most.

What Are the Types of Learning Styles?

Before we get into the types of learning styles, there’s one thing to know:

We all learn through repetition.

No matter how old you are, studies show that repetition allows us to retain and learn new information.[1] The big question now is what kind of repetition is needed. After all, we all learn and process information differently.

This is where the types of learning styles come in. There are eight in total and there is one or two that we prefer over others. This is important because when reading these learning styles, you’ll feel like you’d prefer a mixture of these styles.

That’s because we do prefer a combination. Though there will be one style that will be more predominate over the others. The key is finding which one it is.

Visual Learning

A visual learner (also known as the spatial learner) excels at deciphering anything visual – typically maps and graphs.

If you are this type of learner, you likely excelled at geometry in math class but struggled with arithmetic and numbers. To this day, you might also struggle with reading and writing to a degree.

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While visual learners are described as “late bloomers,” they are highly imaginative. They also process what they see much faster than what they hear.

Verbal Learning

Verbal learning, on the other hand, is learning through what’s spoken. Verbal learners excel in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Because of that, they are likely the ones to find thrills in tongue twists, word games, and puns.

They also thoroughly enjoy drama, writing, and speech classes. But give them maps, or challenge them to think outside of the box and they’ll struggle a bit.

Logical Learning

Not to be confused with visual learners, these learners are good at math and logic puzzles. Anything involving numbers or other abstract visual information is where they excel.

They can also analyze cause and effect relationships quite well. Part of that is due to their thinking process being linear.

Another big difference is their need to quantify everything. These people love grouping information, creating specific lists, agendas or itineraries.

They also have a love for strategy games and making calculations in their heads.

Auditory Learning

Similar to verbal learning, this type of learning style focuses on sounds on a deeper level. These people think chronologically and excel more in the step-by-step methods. These are likely the people who will watch Youtube videos to learn or do something the most.

These learners also have a great memory of conversations and love debates and discussions. Chances are likely these people excel at anything oral.

Also as the name suggests, these individuals have great musical talents. They can decern notes, instruments, rhythms and tones. That being said, they will have a tough time interpreting body language, expressions and gestures. This also applies to charts, maps and graphs.

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Social Learning

Otherwise known as the interpersonal learner, their skills are really unique. They don’t particularly excel in classrooms but rather through talking to other people.

These are the people who are excited for group conversations or group projects. Mainly because they are gifted with coming up with ideas and discussing them.

They also have a good understanding of people’s emotions, facial expressions, and relationship dynamics. They are also likely the first people to point out the root causes of communication issues.

Intrapersonal Learning

The reverse of interpersonal learning, these people prefer learning alone. These are the people who love self-study and working alone. Typically, intrapersonal learners are deeply in tune with themselves meaning they know who they are, their feelings, and their own capabilities.

This type of learning style means you love learning something on your own and typically every day. You also have innate skills in managing yourself and indulging in self-reflection.

Physical Learning

Also known as kinesthetic learning, these people love doing things with their hands. These are people who loved pottery or shop class. If you’re a physical learner, you’ll find you have a huge preference in using your body in order to learn.

This means not just pottery or shop class you enjoyed. You may also have loved sports or any other art medium like painting or woodwork. Anything that involved you learning through physical manipulation you enjoyed and excelled at.

Though this doesn’t just apply to direct physical activities. A physical learner may also find that they learn well when both reading on any subject and pacing or bouncing your leg at the same time.

Naturalistic Learning

The final learning style is naturalistic. These are people who process information through patterns in nature. They also apply scientific reasoning in order to understand living creatures.

Not many people may be connected to this one out of the types of learning styles primarily because of those facts. Furthermore, those who excel in this learning end up being farmers, naturalists or scientists.

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These are the people who love everything with nature. They appreciate plants, animals, and rural settings deeply compared to others.

How to Know Which One(s) Suit You Better?

So now that you have an idea of all the types of learning styles we have another question:

Which one(s) are best for you?

As a reminder, all of us learn through a combination of these learning styles. This makes pinpointing these styles difficult since our learning is likely a fusion of two or more of those styles.

Fortunately, there are all kinds of methods to narrow down which learner you are. Let’s explore the most popular one: the VARK model.

VARK Model

Developed by Neil Fleming and David Baume, the VARK model is basically a conversation starter for teachers and learners.[2] It takes the eight types of learning styles above and condenses them into four categories:

  • Visual – those who learn from sight.
  • Auditory – those who learn from hearing.
  • Reading/writing – those who learn from reading and writing.
  • Kinesthetic – those who learn from doing and moving.

As you can probably tell, VARK comes from the first letter of each style.

But why use this particular model?

This model was created not only for discussion purposes but for learners to know a few key things — namely understanding how they learn.

Because our school system is focusing on a one-size-fits-all model, there are many of us who struggle learning in school. While we may no longer go to school, these behaviors persisted into our adult lives regardless. While we aren’t learning about algebra or science, we may be learning new things about our job or industry. Knowing how to best retain that information for the future helps in so many ways.

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As such, it can be frustrating when we’re in a classroom setting and aren’t understanding anything. That or maybe we’re listening to a speech or reading a book and have no clue what’s going on.

This is where VARK comes back in. To quote Fleming and Baume:

“VARK above all is designed to be a starting place for a conversation among teachers and learners about learning. It can also be a catalyst for staff development- thinking about strategies for teaching different groups can lead to more, and appropriate, variety of learning and teaching.”

Getting into the specifics, this is what’s known as metacognition.[3] It helps you to understand how you learn and who you are. Think of it as a higher order of thinking that takes control over how you learn. It’s impossible to not use this while learning.

But because of that metacognition, we can pinpoint the different types of learning styles that we use. More importantly, what style we prefer over others.

Ask These Questions

One other method that I’ll mention is the research that’s done at the University of Waterloo.[4] If you don’t want to be using a lot of brainpower to pinpoint, consider this method.

The idea with this method is to answer a few questions. Since our learning is a combination of styles, you’ll find yourself leaning to one side over the other with these questions:

  • The active/reflective scale: How do you prefer to process information?
  • The sensing/intuitive scale: How do you prefer to take in information?
  • The visual/verbal scale: How do you prefer information to be presented?
  • The sequential/global scale: How do you prefer to organize information?

This can narrow down how you learn and provide some other practical tips for enhancing your learning experience.

Final Thoughts

Even though we have a preferred style of learning and knowing what that is is beneficial, learning isn’t about restriction. Our learning style shouldn’t be the sole learning style we rely on all the time.

Our brain is made of various parts and whatever style we learn activates certain parts of the brain. Because of this fact, it would be wise to consider other methods of learning and to give them a try.

Each method I mentioned has its merits and there’s not one dominate or superior method. What method we like is entirely up to our preferences. So be flexible with those preferences and uncover what style works best for you.

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Featured photo credit: Anna Earl via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] BrainScape: Repetition is the mother of all learning
[2] Neil Fleming and David Baume: VARKing Up the Right Tree
[3] ERIC: Metacognition: An Overview
[4] University of Waterloo: Understanding Your Learning Style

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