3 powerful principles for remembering + learning anything

Joshua Foer

Having an increasingly difficult time remembering things (and SO much to remember), we were very interested to read the Guardian’s How I learned a language in 22 hours about Joshua Foer‘s successfully learning an obscure language using a learning website called Memrise. Memrise bases their language courses on three essential principles, excerpted here from the very long and interesing piece:

The first is what’s known as elaborative encoding. The more context and meaning you can attach to a piece of information, the likelier it is that you’ll be able to fish it out of your memory at some point in the future. And the more effort you put into creating the memory, the more durable it will be. One of the best ways to elaborate a memory is to try visually to imagine it in your mind’s eye. If you can link the sound of a word to a picture representing its meaning, it’ll be far more memorable than simply learning the word by rote.

One of the best-demonstrated principles of memory…is the value of what’s known as “spaced repetition”:…the best way to secure memories for the long term is to impart them in repeated sessions, distributed across time, with other material interleaved in between. If you want to make information stick, it’s best to learn it, go away from it for a while, come back to it later, leave it behind again, and once again return to it – to engage with it deeply across time. Our memories naturally degrade, but each time you return to a memory, you reactivate its neural network and help to lock it in.

The third principle that Memrise has found to be essential is to make learning FUN (what a concept!).

Related posts: how to remember anything
keeping an instagram journal
dept of the future: how would you like to be remembered?
a jar of air + memory
 digital memory archive (photograph stuff then give it away)

One Response to 3 powerful principles for remembering + learning anything

  1. Ken Rivard 02.10.2013 at 9:12pm #

    Of course! It took me a second to remember why I knew Joshua Foer (hey, I’m 61)–MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN, his wonderful book about the national memory competition. It makes perfect sense that’ he’d do this. Ken

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