Still promising yourself that you’ll make some time to study that subject you’ve always dreamt of knowing more about? We know, it is way past New Year’s Resolutions season, and more time to be thinking about summer holidays. But if this lingering urge to better yourself is still whispering in your ear, here are some top tips to help you go about it.
Know your goals
Even if you are learning purely for fun, there is no point in setting out to learn anything if you don’t have an idea of what you want to achieve in mind. A little vocabulary in the language of the place you are taking your next holiday? Maybe some history to see if your favourite show is accurate or not?
Make sure that if you want to, for example, learn Portuguese before your big trip to Brazil this summer, that you know what points you want to cover. When using a language course provider such as www.listenandlearnusa.com or www.learnlight.com, be realistic about the amount of time you have for all the studying you’re planning. Be practical and make yourself a schedule that fits with your life instead of one that tries to make you work outside of it.
Find your style
Are you a mind-mapper, a highlighter, or a Post-It-notes-on-every-surface-around-the-house kind of person? Whatever you are trying to study, the best way to keep the information you need in your head is to find a memory system that works for you. Sounds pretty simple, we know, but while flashcards and quizzes might be the best method of remembering for some of us, others might find summarising texts in manageable chunks to be more effective. There is no one way to do it: try a few, and see which suit you best.
Timing it right
Are you an early bird or a night owl? This will help you determine what time studying works for you. If you find it easier to hold onto information that you read on your commute into work, or need the peace of the house to yourself after the working day is done, incorporate this into your study plan. There is no right or wrong answer—or time to study!
Be kind to yourself!
There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to have something done yesterday. Impatience when learning will eat into your motivation and make you feel like giving up altogether. Take regular breaks, and if the words just aren’t sticking today, then be honest with yourself and reschedule them for another time. Sometimes our minds are sponges and, at other times, they may as well be rocks. If it’s a rock day, postpone things until you are ready to learn.
Avoid quick fixes
We’ve all heard of passive learning, that mystical dream where we can absorb information and retain it without making any effort while fast asleep. And while scientific studies have shown some connection between say, replaying foreign language vocabulary in our ears when sleeping and improved word recollection, the key here is that you have to learn the words in the first place. You will not magically have an entire new vocabulary overnight!
The truth is, to learn anything, you have to want to know it. If you only ever talk about doing it then you probably don’t want it half as much as you think you do. So be honest with yourself. Whether it’s learning a new language for your holidays, or mastering new computer skills for work, think about what fits in with your schedule and make it work for you.
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This post is a collaboration.