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Published on December 16, 2019

7 Ways Thinking Aloud Makes You a Better Thinker and Learner

7 Ways Thinking Aloud Makes You a Better Thinker and Learner

It is never a sign of insanity to think aloud, it also enhances your mental ability. It is also called private speech. It enables you to achieve focus. It is a behavioral pattern that you should practice daily to achieve self-regulation.

As a child, you learned by thinking aloud. It was a form of demonstrating your knowledge or opening yourself to learn

You sound out words, express ideas, form sentences. Anytime you were corrected, you rehearse until you have imitated correctly or conformed to the established model in the family, school, or neighborhood, etc.

As you grow older, you internalize this act of thinking aloud, and your speech shifts to interpersonal communication.

So what are the seven ways thinking aloud can help you think and learn better?

1. Spur Curiosity During Learning

The goal of curiosity is to enable you to gain a more in-depth knowledge of things that are crucial within the scope of our experience of the world. This covers the concepts you have learned in school and those that are relevant to your daily lives.

Individuals who think aloud are usually curious about the different range of topics and develop broad interests. Thinking aloud helps you retain inquisitiveness about people and the world around you. It enables you to gain an in-depth understanding of beliefs, culture, and viewpoints that are shared aspects of what makes us human. Those who think aloud are lifelong learners.

They are lifelong learners because they are naturally and practice critical thinking. Thinking aloud will help you apply your best thinking habit to solve complex problems. It also helps you to achieve constructive outcomes.

As you think aloud, you will find answers to crucial questions. You don’t make decisions based on assumptions, but you can explore the topics deeper. You also gain deeper facts locked up within the information.

2. Enhance Your Creativity

Creativity is one of the most significant skills you need to survive beyond school. Learners who think aloud nurtures their creativity and the ability to solve problems. It is a requisite skill to collaborate in the workplace.

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The tendency to think aloud means you can transfer the same knowledge and process to more complex problems to achieve effective results.

Thinking aloud is relevant in business, marketing, and professional networks. It helps you to develop creativity on how to advertise, increase revenue, and advance your career.

You will also learn to question assumptions about different topics. When you think aloud, you ask ‘how’ or ‘why not?

Private speech has limitless potentials. This applies to young and old learners. It will enable you to train your brain to be creative.

3. Reinforce Your Problem-Solving Skill

You become an instinctual problem solver when you think aloud. Problem-solving has been ranked to be the most crucial ability that you can build on as a learner. You will be positioned to address complex by thinking aloud about how to engineer innovative solutions.

Albert Einstein once said,

‘ It’s not that I am smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.’

He once propounded that when you are allocated one hour to perform a task, spend 55 minutes to define and research the problem while you spend 5 minutes to solve it. Private speech affords you this kind of commitment and patience. It is also the very reason you will learn how to understand the problem and solve it effectively.

Thinking aloud also positions you to face complex problems to survive, succeed, and be significant in life.

When you think aloud, you can curate solutions to big problems such as overpopulation, global warming, water shortages, energy crises, pollution, need for health care, and electronic waste management etc.

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As these problems and others continue to evolve, those who think aloud would continue to be relevant in producing lasting solutions to them.

4. Cultivate Multi-Faceted Skill

As you think aloud, you are nurturing, not just a skill, but many skills.

Thinking aloud is a cross-curricular cognitive talent. It exercises your mind, and once your mind is empowered, you will not only stay healthy, but you will be more productive.

Thinking aloud enhances your:

  • Observational skills
  • Reasoning skills
  • Logical thinking
  • Evaluative skills
  • Language skills
  • Organizational and planning skills
  • Open-mindedness
  • Creative visualization methods
  • Decision making

The list is inexhaustive, but this is an overview of what you develop and promote when you think aloud in your daily lives.

5. Foster Independence

Thinking aloud helps you think independently, which is of the most essential learning goals. It helps you to become independent during the learning process.

You don’t depend on the instructor to achieve learning outcomes, but you learn to take responsibility for your learning. The keyword here is ‘responsibility.’ When you learn how to be more responsible while learning, you can learn how to take charge of your life.

Thinking aloud will not only position you as a great learner but a great thinker and leader. You will learn how to appreciate the world from your point of view and experience. You become more confident, and you learn from your mistakes as you build a successful and productive life.

Thinking aloud helps you to be self-directed as a learner. Your thinking becomes organized. It also means this kind of proactive thinking ability becomes part of you as you nurture it through the lifelong learner.

When you are successful in your thinking ability, you can make progress beyond learning in your future pursuits and relationship with pride and confidence.

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6. Improve Your Reading Comprehension

You become motivated to identify the distinctions between reading words and understanding the text when you apply the process of thinking aloud. You also gain insights into the reading complexities and expand your understanding of what it means to be a great reader.

How does this apply to life? You will learn how to read through assumptions and base your knowledge on realities.

7. Develop a Life Skill

You develop a lifelong skill, not just a learning skill, as you think aloud. According to John Dewey,

‘Education is not preparation for life; it is life itself.’

Thinking aloud helps you to become successful within and beyond the classroom. You learn how to lead your life through life.

The bottom line is you don’t need your teachers once you have completed a learning phase; you become the leader and the teacher. Learning also becomes a continuum for you.

How to Adopt the Thinking Aloud Strategy

Thinking aloud or private speed is a crucial learning tool. The more you engage your brain in different dimensions, the more you can connect and retain what you learn.

You read, create diagrams or pictures, use motion or music, converse with others, and with yourself. Most time, you talk through with your friends or in a group to recall a topic you have learned. In other cases, you may not need a second party to think aloud.

Thinking aloud helps you to leverage multiple senses and personal experiences in processing and to reinforce your learning.

You can think aloud to:

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  • memorize vocabulary by vocalizing the words
  • talk through mathematical problems to arrive at possible solutions
  • edit papers by reading the words aloud
  • appreciate poetry through dramatization.

Here are three ways to think aloud:

1. Spot the Juicy Tipping Points

The first approach to adopt if you want to think aloud is to sift through the text.

Read the text while holding your sticky notes, search for spots to make inferences, ask questions or think through the intent of the author. These are the juicy tipping points that lead to the next challenge or comprehension opportunities.

2. Know When and Where to Think Aloud

Examine each tipping point and reflect on the purpose of the point. This will help you scale down the points to more manageable points, so you don’t become overburdened or detracted from the process.

You need to also factor in the purpose of picking the text you want to learn, your objective, and the strategies you are familiar with before reading the text.

3. Write on Sticky Notes

Writing on sticky notes provides a guide for your thought pattern during the learning process.

It helps you to stick to what’s significant and discard what’s less prominent. It also helps you to be purposeful throughout the learning process.

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If you want to be a great thinker and a lifelong learner, thinking aloud shouldn’t be a one-time exercise for you, but an all-the-time endeavor. You will become productive in your personal life and also become relevant to the world.

More About Thinking Smart

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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