Psychology of Learning a Language

If you are considering learning a new language or already bilingual, trilingual or a polyglot, you know the hardest part of learning a language and maintaining that language is memorizing the vocabulary and conjugations. This blog is for all those who wish to learn and maintain their language fluency. Learning and memorization are essential parts of business, education, and just about everything else in our lives. The below post is for all those who want to improve your memorization abilities and do it in hours less then you were doing before.

Psychology of Learning and Memorization

One of the key components in learning anything is memorization but unfortunately for us as humans our memories seem to let us down regularly. Once you can understand certain techniques and how the brain processes and memorizes information, learning anything (literally) becomes much easier. In order to gain the most from understanding how learning and memorization work are essential to your linguistic potential. Where better to start than the psychology of your brain and how memorization really works.

Although, for some people memorization just comes naturally, for the average person memorization is and can be quite difficult. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be a genius to obtain an incredible memory. Learning and memorization are skills that can be developed like anything else. Capitalizing on a few concepts will rapidly increase memory function.

Top 8 Secrets to Learning Anything Quickly

1.Organize the information

2.“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

3.Elaborate with Self-Reference

4.Prioritize Information = Efficiency

5.“Use It or Lose It”

6.Turn Off Multi-Tasking

7.Use Music, Rhythm and Beats

8.Use Confidence as a Catalyst

Top 8 Secrets To Learning Anything Quickly

1.Organize the Information.

This may sound obvious and some of you may already be doing this correctly. However, organization is the key to success in all aspects of life so why would it be any different when putting things into memory. When you give your desired information a structure and understand the way the information is organized, encoding (downloading) information into your brain becomes much easier and efficient. Organizing information is crucial in learning and memorization because the brain doesn’t haphazardly store information; it stores it in an organized mental archive

i.e. Try this! Memorize the sequence of letters below in only 10 seconds. Ready, Go

O             LDH             ABI            TSD            IEH            ARD

… Did you do it? Probably not, unless you used an organizational technique called chunking (grouping). Now give it a try and organize the letters by chunking them together like this

|O             LD|H             ABI            TS|D            IE|H            ARD|

|OLD|HABITS|DIE|HARD| Amazing how easy memorizing those letters becomes. Creating acronyms for information can be another great organizational tool. In order to enhance memory try other organizational techniques and find which ones work for you.

2.“A picture is worth a thousand words.” –Confucius

Next time you need to memorize something, try creating a story or image that represents the information. Imagery is a tool that James Niles-Joyal, a Boston College student, publically recited pi to the 3,141st decibel without error. When asked how he would go about studying, he said he created characters, emotions, and actions to aid him in his memory of pi. Creating a story or mental image of the information makes it easier for the brain to retrieve.

3.Elaborate with Self-Reference

Self-reference is the easiest way to send information into long-term memory. Episodic memories (episodes of our lives when’s, where’s and what’s) are automatically stored in long-term memory. If we can relate information to ourselves (self-referencing) that information is more easily retrieved and can become a great tool for memorizing and learning information long term.  An example of self-reference is while memorizing vocabulary words correlating the words to specific instances in your own life that the word describes or explains.

4.Prioritize Information = Efficiency

The most important part of learning and memorization may be prioritizing your information. It is also the most productive aspect of learning. Memorize information that you are never going to have to retrieve (especially when dealing with language learning) is a waste of time. Everyone has to memorize what may seem like pointless information for school, work and other activities. However, when we prioritize the information that is most important for a specific task. Memorization becomes much more productive. For example if you are going to present your product to a company in France it would be most productive to study the necessary vocabulary to present your product correctly as opposed to just studying a French review book. Prioritize what your specific task or goal is by memorizing task specific information.

5.“Use it or Lose it” (Review Randomly)

This is quite self-explanatory. However, when trying to learn and remember information, studying it once and then never reviewing it again doesn’t ensure memory retention. One study technique that is extremely useful is randomly reviewing throughout the day.  While you are learning French and Spanish, pulling out a note card with the “verbs of the day” (verbs that were designated as the targeted practice verbs for that day) will help. It can remind you to practice using those verbs and when the desired verb’s definition is forgotten it will helps to review what it means and how it is conjugated. There are many ways to randomly review things throughout your day. Be creative and find what works for you. Use smart phones, iPads, iPods, note cards, sticky notes around the house, whatever it takes to help you randomly review what you want to learn and store in your long-term memory.

6.Turn off Multitasking

Multitasking is actually proven to be more detrimental to your memory then helpful. Your brain cannot think about more then one thing at a time. It can move very quickly from thought to thought but it cannot be thinking about two things simultaneously. Although some people prefer to learn and study with music, TV, or texting, all those things are just distractions from the goal. Productivity is essential in learning and memorization. If there are other distractions going on, the brain will be constantly pulled away from the learning material.

Try This: Next time you have to memorize anything, follow these rules:

  1. Isolate yourself somewhere quiet (library, car, or even bathroom) just make sure you are away from distractions.
  2. Set a time frame (i.e. 15 minutes to accomplish a certain task).
  3. Turn off all electronic devices. (Yes, you can go without your cell phone.)
  4. Layout all the materials need. (Materials to be memorized, paper, pencil, etc.)
  5. Decided what things are essential to memorize and create a priority list.
  6. Dig in! (An essential part of memorization and learning is learning how your brain best encodes information: Trial and Error is the best ways to figure out your brain. Don’t say you just can’t or aren’t good at learning or memorization and remember that both are just like any other skill and can be developed.)

7.Use Music, Rhythm and Beats

Do you remember the last time you listened to the radio and you somehow knew every word to your favorite song from middle school. Your brain uses all the steps of learning and memorization quickly and subconsciously. Your sense of hearing processes the information because as you are listening to the song you are giving it some attention. By giving attention to the song and having a physical stimulus (something that creates a specific reaction) for your brain to correlate the two together memorization and learning becomes automatic. Adding rehearsal (repetition) into the equation your favorite middle school song becomes encoded into long-term memory. Using music, rhythms and beats to help with memorization and learning can be a powerful tool and help to create fluency in any language or to encode that important information quickly. Give it a try.

8.Use Confidence as a Catalyst

This is of the best-kept secrets in accomplishing anything. In psychology thousands of studies prove the power of self-confidence and the effects it has on a person. If you want to learn or memorize anything the secret is to have self-confidence. Confidence really is a catalyst for success. Have confidence that you can learn and memorize the desired information. While learning another language confidence is essential. The fastest way to learn a language is to have self-confidence and get out there and try and speak. Most people throughout the world embrace those who are trying to reach out and learn their culture and language. Traveling is the opportune time to increase language fluency. Have the self-confidence to practice in a real-life situation. After all the purpose of learning a language is to be able to speak it.

Bon chance!

Do you have your own helpful tricks to learning and memorizing? Leave it in a comment below.

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