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Last Updated on November 6, 2020

12 Ways for Any Slow Learner to Easily Speed Up Learning

12 Ways for Any Slow Learner to Easily Speed Up Learning

Have you ever struggled to learn something? Has it ever taken you longer to figure something out than everyone else? Do you have a mental block when it comes to certain subjects? We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning new things. Everyone is a slow learner about one thing or another.

I know I’m a slow learner when it comes to new languages or anything technological. However, that doesn’t mean I’m a slow learner all around. It just means I’ve got some areas for growth.

Luckily for me and you, there are many ways to speed up learning with extra support, even when we’re talking about those  creative or academic areas that we usually struggle with.

Here are 12 ways for slow learners to speed up learning.

1. Relax and Stay Calm

It’s tough to learn much of anything when you’re stressed out or upset about something, so learning how to relax and stay calm is vital to speeding up your learning.

In one study, stress negatively impacted both recall and recognition tasks.[1] This means that we need to do our best to de-stress and stay calm if we’re trying to shift from a slow learner to a fast one.

What kinds of activities can help us reduce stress and stay calm? Breathing exercises can help reduce stress. Slowing and deepening our breath can help us feel less stressed and calmer.[2]

Mindfulness exercises can also help us think more about what we’re learning and less about what’s stressing us out. Noticing what’s in your immediate environment and listening to the nearby sounds can help you shift from worrying and overthinking (bad for learning) to being able to better focus on the task at hand.

2. Remove Distractions

It’s also extremely difficult for a slow learner to learn efficiently when surrounded by distractions. Extraneous noises and technology overload can get in our way when we’re trying to learn something new.

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When possible, put your phone away and turn off notifications. Also, do your best to find a quiet spot with no radio or TV to compete with whatever it is you’re trying to learn.

Once you do all of this, you can learn how to take your learning to the next level in this video:

3. Eat Right

It may seem obvious, but there’s a direct link between proper nutrition and learning outcomes. Nutrient deficiencies can cause you to feel like you’re in a haze, which is a surefire recipe for slow learning.[3]

Combat that by eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fatty acids have been linked with memory and brain-boosting, so make sure to eat fish and nuts or try an omega-3 supplement.

4. Sleep

Another healthy way to boost your learning is to get plenty of sleep. When we sleep, our brains sort through our experiences from the day. Some synaptic connections erode while others are strengthened during sleep. This just means that your brain requires deep sleep to strengthen memories, so you have to sleep in order to learn.

Get at least seven hours of sleep each night, so you can wake up refreshed and ready to learn. Try reviewing the information you’re trying to learn before bed, so you can use your sleep time transferring it into long-term memories.

It also helps to have a consistent bedtime routine. Your body needs to have consistent Circadian rhythms to fall right asleep and get those valuable REM cycles.

5. Play to Your Strengths

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, right? I know I’m terrible at foreign languages and much more comfortable with reading and writing. Take a self-assessment and think about things you learn quickly and things that turn you into a slow learner.

Then, use this self-assessment to your advantage, and play to your strengths. When I’m struggling to learn Spanish or Bosnian, I challenge myself to read children’s books or write rudimentary stories because I enjoy them and am more comfortable with these activities. This helps me learn something I struggle with because I’m playing to my strengths, instead of just forcing myself to review grammar or memorize flashcards.

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6. Practice Makes Perfect

Another trick for speeding up slow learning is to plan repeated exposure to whatever it is you’re trying to learn. Just reviewing your notes once is not going to do the trick.

There’s something called spaced repetition that helps make learning more effective[4]. Spaced repetition is when you study tough material more often and easier material less often.[5]

Spaced repetition for slow learners

    For example, if I’m trying to learn a new language, I might quiz myself with some vocabulary flashcards. I’m going to repeat all the cards I got wrong sooner than the ones I got right as I continue to add in new flashcards.

    Spaced repetition is a proven method to help you store new information as long-term memories, which means that it becomes second nature.

    7. Mnemonic Devices

    Who remembers ROYGBIV? Probably a lot of you. ROYGBIV is a mnemonic device that helps us easily (and quickly) remember the colors of the rainbow.

    Mnemonic devices help speed up learning by making memory encoding easier. It’s much easier for me to remember ROYGBIV than it is to remember all the colors. Then, the first letter of each color gives me a hint to make remembering the colors easier.

    So, if you’re having a slow learner moment, speed up by using mnemonic devices.

    8. Try All Learning Styles

    Learning styles started to gain in popularity in the 1990s. Since that time, there’s never been definitive proof that someone’s preferred learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and reading/writing) improves learning outcomes. However, knowing which style you prefer can help you learn faster.

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    I know I prefer to see things written out, so when I want a better chance of learning someone’s name I either write it out myself or ask them to write it, since hearing it spelled only confuses me further.

    Find your preferred learning style and use it to your advantage.

    To really speed up learning, mix and match the learning styles, and try to match the learning style with whatever you’re trying to learn.

    For example, if you’re trying to learn a new song, you may want to hear it first. If you’re trying to figure out some new statistics, it may help to see it mapped out visually.

    9. Reflect and Adjust

    When we’re talking about speeding up learning, it may not make sense to stop and reflect, but being reflective and self-aware can speed up learning in the long run.

    Keeping a journal to review past learning helps boost learning a little, but that may just be the boost you need to move from a slow learner to a not-so-slow one.

    10. Know Your Learning Blocks

    It’s also important to know what makes you shut down when trying to learn new things. I know that if I’m feeling embarrassed, I tend to shut down and get defensive instead of being open to learning new things. It’s important to figure out what makes you shut down, so you can recover and continue to learn.

    Improv has a lot to teach us about how to create learning environments that promote creativity and learning. By going along with people’s ideas and not judging each other, we can create learning environments that are much more conducive to faster learning.

    11. Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes

    Learning also requires us to make mistakes. If we’re too worried about being right or being perfect, we won’t take the risks necessary to learn new things.

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    When mistakes do happen, it’s important to be able to talk about them openly to learn from them, instead of letting them lead to shame and embarrassment.[6]

    You can learn how to let go of perfectionism here.

    12. Get Curious and Be Playful

    Finally, to move from a slow learner to a fast one, it’s crucial to be curious about whatever it is you’re learning.

    In one study, curiosity was shown to have positive benefits for workplace learning and performance.[7]

    The key is the shift in focus. When we play, we are better able to shift our focus from internal thoughts to an external focus on the people and objects around us. This helps decrease overthinking and distractions and helps people focus on the present moment and the task at hand, crucial ingredients for efficient learning.

    Final Thoughts

    Don’t beat yourself up if you think you’re a slow learner. Find comfort in knowing we all have our learning strengths and weaknesses.

    You should also find comfort in the fact that there are twelve practical ways that you can start speeding up your learning today.

    More Tips to Speed Up Learning

    Featured photo credit: Andrew Le via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Clay Drinko

    Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of PLAY YOUR WAY SANE (January 2021 Simon & Schuster)

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    Last Updated on June 1, 2021

    How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

    How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Accelerate Your Learning

    If you’ve ever taken a learning style quiz, you know that the idea is to find your most prominent learning style. The question then becomes: what do you do with that information?

    A textbook definition of learning styles is:[1]

    “Characteristic cognitive, effective, and psycho-social behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment.”

    That’s a fancy way of saying that different individuals interact with their learning environment in different ways. You’ll often see learning styles in conjunction with higher education and other types of cognitive learning courses. The theory is that, if the teacher is aware of the various ways in which people perceive information, they can differentiate the instruction to meet those needs.

    To the casual learner, understanding your learning style can help you find the best way to learn new information. There are seven different learning styles, and everybody uses a little of each one (on a sliding scale).

    In this article we will talk about how many different learning styles there are (and what they mean), get you to try the learning style quiz, and find out how to use your specific learning style to improve your life.

    The 7 Learning Styles

    The following is an overview of the various learning styles[2]:

    1. Visual / Spatial

    A visual learner thinks in pictures. They prefer having illustrations, pictures, and other types of images to help form a mental image of what they are learning. Visual learners are typically spatial thinkers.

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    2. Aural / Auditory-Musical

    An aural learner learns through music and rhythm. While actual music isn’t necessarily required to reach an aural learner, it certainly is more effective.

    3. Verbal / Linguistic

    A verbal learner prefers using words, both in speech and in reading. A person with this learning style might prefer a good lecture or textbook to more visual and auditory styles.

    4. Physical / Kinesthetic

    A physical learner prefers using their body, hands, and sense of touch. A person with this learning style is more of a “hands-on” learner who prefers to learn by doing.

    5. Logical / Mathematical

    A logical learner prefers information to flow from one thought or idea to the next. A person with this learning style prefers mathematics, logic, and reasoning.

    6. Social / Interpersonal

    A social learner prefers to learn in groups or through social interaction. A person with this learning style usually prefers group-work and project-based learning.

    7. Solitary / Intrapersonal

    A solitary learner prefers to work alone. People with this learning style are great at teaching themselves and often prefer self-study and online courses to more traditional learning methods.

    Did you see yourself in more than one learning style? If so, then you understand that no one person has just one learning style. Each of the above styles exist in everybody to a certain degree.

    If you take a learning style quiz, you might see a certain style emerge as the strongest (and, thus, more preferred). However, that does not mean that person cannot learn in one of the other ways listed.

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    Learning Styles and the Brain

    Learning styles influence and guide the way you learn. They affect the way you internally represent your experiences, remember information, or even dictate the words you choose[3].

    Learning style quiz: Dunn & Dunn learning styles brain map [Source: Kos, (2017)]

       

      Research suggests that each learning style makes use of a different part of the brain. Here is the breakdown for each learning style:

      • Visual: Visual learners use the occipital and parietal lobes at the back of the brain.
      • Aural: Aural content is mostly processed through the temporal lobes (especially the right temporal lobe for music).
      • Verbal: Verbal content is processed through the temporal and frontal lobes.
      • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learning is processed using the cerebellum and the motor cortex.
      • Logical: Logical learning is processed through the parietal lobes (specifically using the left side of the brain as it pertains to logical thinking).
      • Social: Social learning happens in the frontal and temporal lobes.

      How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Improve Your Life

      Perhaps you didn’t realize that people had different learning styles before you read this article. Maybe you already knew about learning styles.

      Whatever the case, you can learn a lot about yourself just by taking a short learning styles quiz. But what do you do with the knowledge you get from the results?

      Here are some tips:

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      Visual Learner

      If you’re a visual learner, focus on how you can make the material you’re learning more visually appealing[4].

      1. Stay Organized

      If a learning style quiz tells you you’re a visual learner, focus on getting your material organized. Your brain will likely feel overwhelmed if your notes are chaotic.

      2. Use Color

      Try color coding information in order to help your mind visually separate each bit. For example, if you’re studying for a history test, highlight dates in yellow, people in blue, and places in pink. This technique will set important pieces of information off in your mind and make them easier to remember.

      3. Watch Videos

      Ditch the audio-books and podcasts and either read or watch videos and lectures online. Your strength is found in visual explanation — seeing the information in a book, diagram, or demonstration.

      Auditory Learner

      If you’re an auditory learner according to your learning style quiz, focus on using your ability to hear to take in information[5].

      1. Limit Distracting Noises

      Traffic outside your window, students speaking nearby, or music blaring from a speaker won’t help you while studying. You’re already prone to take in the sounds around you, so if you want to learn something specific, find a quiet place to work where you can limit distracting noises.

      2. Read Aloud

      If you’ve taken notes in class, try reading them aloud to yourself. You can even create jingles or rhymes to help you remember specific bits of information.

      3. Record Lectures

      Instead of just simply writing notes as your professor or boss speaks, record the lecture or conversation and listen back later. This will help solidify the information with aural cues. Also, try speaking with classmates or coworkers to help “fill in” the information.

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      Kinesthetic Learners

      Your learning style quiz tells you that you’re a kinesthetic learner. Here are some study tips to help you[6].

      1. Teach Someone

      After you’ve studied the target information, try teaching it to someone else. This dynamic activity will help turn on your ability to recall the information.

      2. Be Hands-on

      Using your hands to create something will help your brain work through specific problems. If you need to remember 20 vocabulary words, try drawing a map and placing the words in specific places. This is related to the idea of a memory palace, which you can learn about here.

      Bonus tip: Try chewing gum, as the movement may help activate learning centers in your brain.

      3. Take Breaks

      As a kinesthetic learner, your mind won’t like being in one static position for very long. Take time to get up and walk around or do another physical activity for a few minutes between study sessions.

      Also be aware that most of the learning styles can fit into one of those three categories. You are essentially going to be one of these three types of learning styles paired with an interpersonal or intrapersonal preference. In other words, you either like working with others or you don’t.

      If you’re ready to take your learning to the next level with your learning style, check out the video below for some more tips and tricks:

      Final Thoughts

      Have you taken the learning style quiz yet? If not, scroll down this page a bit and try the quiz now!

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      If you spend just five to ten minutes on this quiz, it may give you insight into learning styles that will change your life.

      More on How to Use the Learning Style Quiz

      Featured photo credit: Eliabe Costa via unsplash.com

      Reference

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