This is Part 2 of the article 9 Proven Ways to Learn Anything Faster
3. Connect New Learning to Something You Already Know
The next of the 9 proven ways to learn anything faster works quickly precisely because this is how your brain already functions.
When you learn something new, you always want to connect it something you already know.
The way your brain works is that it takes new information and integrates it with existing information.
Ultimately your short term working memory as you’re learning something new, integrates with and into your long term memory
You want to build on your strengths.
Think of connecting new learning to existing knowledge this way.
Have you ever crossed the street without actually looking both ways and were surprised when a car came to a screeching halt for you?
That screeching halt you heard and probably felt in your rising heart rate, is the prior knowledge that tells you not to cross the street without looking both ways.
When you teach a child to cross the street, you could also have another person ride a tricycle or a scooter very close to the child when they are not looking in both directions before crossing and their brain will connect walking (something they already know) with looking both ways before they cross the street (the new information).
Looking both ways before crossing will be forever cemented into their brain (and their body) and they will have successfully learned the new skill.
Now how about something more fun? Imagine you’re learning a new language before you visit a new country.
I remember when I visited Italy and prior to going, practiced some travel phrases just as a child would learn their first language.
I held a piece of luggage in my hand and put it inside the car, pretending I was the taxi driver.
I said “Grazie” to embed the phrase thank you in Italian in my mind and used my prior knowledge of knowing how to lift the bag into the car and thanking another person for kindly doing this task for me.
Here is how to make the connection in your brain between what you already know and what you want to learn faster.
Ask this one question.
Simply ask yourself, “What does this remind me of?”
In my course Total Recall Learning, you’ll discover that this question is the easiest and most proven way to make new brain connections so you can learn faster.
When you answer this question try and make the connection both fun and funny, use lots of color and moving images in your mind.
This is a huge secret to learn anything faster and will cement your memory because the brain loves humor, color and pictures.
Next, turn the whole thing into a mental movie or an image, and suddenly your recall increases hundreds of times and with just a bit of practice that I describe in the course, easily goes into your long-term memory.
4. Make Visual Images to Solidify Recall
I’m sure you’ve heard people tell you to visualize something to remember it right?
The reason for this is that images are at the heart of on-demand memory strategies.
Turning text into colorful mental images is actually the scientific secret sauce that helps your brain learn anything faster and more efficiently, especially when you’re taking a written exam or giving speeches without notes.
The Brain Science: Why? Because neuroscience tells us the brain processes visual images much faster than text.
Research from as far back as the 1970s where people were shown 2,000 images reveal that over 90% had better and faster recall than compared to when they were simply trying to recall text.
While there is a bit of incorrect information floating around the internet about image recall being 60,000 times faster than text, research on faster learning and memory has proven time and time again that image recall is indeed faster than recalling text. (See numerous studies about this including those here).
You can think about it this way. If you read about your national flag, you probably got an image of it in your mind the second you read this – right?
However, if I asked you to read or write a description about your flag, you know it would take you a lot longer than simply reading the word and instantly having a mental image of it in your mind.
When you make mental images of what you want to learn, not only is recall faster but you intuitively grasp concepts and ideas, without your brain having to make its way through a step-by-step linear formula!
Here’s a great example to show you how well this works to learn anything faster.
Imagine you want to understand how evaporation works
The textbook definition says evaporation is “a type of vaporization that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gas phase.”
When you read something brand new like that and you want to learn it faster, remember that the best question to ask is, “What does this remind me of and then make a mental movie out of what you come up with.
So you can imagine liquid molecules as marbles in a jar (which is what you already know about), and then think of them bounding off each other if you shake the jar.
The funnier and sillier the image, the better.
You can picture how the change from liquid to gas happens by visualizing the concept, and it communicates deeper meaning to you than just words can.
Thinking in images covers a greater surface area of your brain – hence a larger surface area means you can learn anything faster.
When you make these mental images, you activate both the cognitive and emotional pathways within your brain.
So, you not only can learn learn anything faster because of that larger surface area, you’re able to optimize your memory for faster recall, because images bypass your short-term memory and directly embed into your long-term memory!
This is the secret to making you a memory genius!
Take all the text you read and turn it into a mental image in your mind.
For more memory systems and tips on visualization, like how to access different types of memory on-demand to learn anything faster, check out the course Total Recall Learning!
Pat Wyman is the CEO of HowtoLearn.com, HowtoLearn.Teachable.com, best selling author and an internationally noted brain and learning coach known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert.
Pat’s superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, including Total Recall Learning™.
She is the best-selling author of more than 15 books, a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!
Contact Pat to find out more about the Brain Advantage 2.0 Learning and Career Assessment and customized coaching for professionals and students.