The world is in constant change due to advances in technology, science, and innovation. What was considered “hot” a year ago may no longer be relevant today. Just look at all the new social media platforms that have sprouted since Facebook was created.
Despite all the good that change can bring, you have to keep up or you may get left behind. One of the best ways to stay competitive is to develop habits that can help you quickly learn new skills.
Here are 10 habits to incorporate into your learning to help you learn new material twice as fast.
1. Speed reading
We know that many successful entrepreneurs read as a daily habit. For example, Warren Buffett developed the habit of reading several hours every day.
The average reader reads at approximately 200 to 400 words per minute. The expert speed reader can do read 1 000 to 1 700 words per minute. It’s no surprise that there’s tremendous value in being able to read quickly and efficiently.
Speed reading encompasses skills such as chunking (reading groups of words instead of one word by one word), minimising subvocalisation (reducing the habit of saying the words in your head as your read), skimming (reading through a paragraph quickly to look for important and related information), and meta-guiding (using a tool such as a pen to guide your eyes in your reading).
Speed reading requires practice but once you instill the skill as a habit, you will be able to get through much more information within a shorter time period.
2. Control your learning environment
Have you noticed that there are times in the day when you are in the flow and learning seems easy but then there are other times when nothing is sinking in and it feels like you are fighting an uphill battle? We all have biological rhythms for our sleep, body temperature and even peak mental state. Figure out when you are most alert and aware and use that time to do your learning.
Being in a fearful, disorganised and stressed state will also block access to your inner stores of creativity and intelligence. To put yourself in an optimum learning mode, choose a safe, reasonably organised, and comfortable environment. Take deep breaths to help you relax and focus.
There is also research indicating that varying the room temperature can also influence your ability to learn. Try to maintain your room temperature between 72 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to optimise your learning ability.
3. Take notes
Taking notes helps our brains to analyse and synthesise the information that we are learning. The very act of writing makes our brains think that we are undergoing a mini-rehearsal of the information.
Research has shown that making notes using a keyboard does not help students remember the information as well as writing it down. Writing is much slower than typing and when writing, we are forced to make quick judgments about the information that we are hearing. When we type on a keyboard, often we are not thinking about the information but merely copying it word for word.
To increase your learning speed, try to develop the habit of making hand-written notes.
I am a big fan of using tools like Evernote to sync all my notes across all my devices. It can scan and read written notes, and keep track of audio notes. This gives me confidence in the fact that I’ll never misplace an important note no matter how I decide to create the note.
4. Combine all learning modalities
All of us have preferred learning modalities: Visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic (VARK). If you are a visual person, you will find learning a lot easier if you see the new material presented visually, such as through pictures, diagrams or PowerPoint. If you learn best by listening, then you will love podcasts, interviews, and audiobooks. Those with a reading or writing modality learn best when they can read the information and write down notes.
If you are kinesthetically-inclined, you learn better when you can use your hands and physically touch or try something out for yourself.
By understanding what your preferred learning modality is, you can speed up your absorption of information by choosing a learning system that supports your modality.
For even faster learning, combine all modalities. For example, if you are reading about coding skills from an article, read it out loud to yourself and draw a mind map while you are doing this. Then immediately try the code on your website.
5. Create mental associations
You can shorten your learning time by creating mental associations to link what you already know to new information. Techniques such as using a familiar acronym or rhyme to help you remember different types of marketing sequences, using favourite colours to help you remember algorithms or visualising something interesting about a client to help you remember their name are all ways for you to create mental associations.
The more mental association techniques you know how to employ, the easier it will be for you to increase your learning speed.
6. Exercise your brain
A brain is just like any muscle in your body – the more you exercise it, the more effective it becomes. Try learning something new, set yourself a new challenge or use fun resources like BrainHQ and Lumosity to increase your attention, memory, cognitive abilities and brain speed. The more you train and exercise your brain, the faster your learning will be.
7. Listen to alpha state-inducing music
We have four major types of brainwave patterns: Alpha, beta, theta and delta. Out of these, the alpha state (approximately eight to 13 Hz) is where our concentration is best and peak learning is easily achieved.
You can help your brain to enter into the alpha state by listening to music with a beat of eight to 13 Hz (such as baroque music) while you are learning. Even if you don’t like baroque music, you can use other types of music with similar beats. Try to avoid music with singing as lyrics can be distracting.
8. Modified practice after six hours
Malcolm Gladwell first popularised the concept of deliberate practice in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success.” Deliberate practice is practicing with intentional focus on skill improvement and focusing on growing out of one’s comfort zone. In his book, Gladwell uses the concept of deliberate practice to explain why some athletes and musicians improve so much faster than others.
More recent research has found that by modifying your practice slightly, you increase your learning speed, especially if you are trying to learn motor skills.
This is because the process of modifying your practice supports brain reconsolidation where existing memories are strengthened with new knowledge. The ideal time to do your modified practice is six hours after your first practice as the brain takes about six hours to do its reconsolidation work.
9. Get hands-on experience
Nothing beats learning like actual hands-on experience. Textbook knowledge transforms into something much more useful when we can combine it with practical knowledge.
For example, you can read as much as you want about share investing but until you actually buy your first shares of stock, you won’t understand what the process actually entails and what it is like to put real money on the line.
Another alternative is to fully immerse yourself in the experience of learning. For example, if you were trying to learn Spanish, spend a few months living in Mexico and don’t allow yourself to use any English while you are there. You will pick up the language a lot quicker than using audiobooks and textbooks.
10. Teach someone else what you are learning
When you teach someone else what you are learning, you retain approximately 90 percent of what you have just learned, especially if you do this immediately after learning.it yourself.
By sharing your knowledge with someone else, not only are you helping someone else but you will also discover quickly how well you know your subject and discover any gaps.
Build these ten habits into your learning and you will be amazed how quickly your learning speed will increase.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs
As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.
Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.
“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.
“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”
Taking on a new era
The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.
“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.
“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.
“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”
JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.
“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.
“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”
Depth and creativity
Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.
“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.
“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.
Bringing world-class education to Africa
“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”
JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.
“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.
“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”
Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:
- Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)
Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.
- Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)
Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.
- Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)
The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.
- Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)
Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.
- Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)
Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.
- Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)
Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.
- Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)
Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.
- Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)
Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.
- Innovation Series (12 Mar)
Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.
- HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)
The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.
English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?
We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.
Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.
Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.
South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.
Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!
In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors: the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener. Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.
Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:
|Communicative Grammar||Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?
Join our Communicative Grammar course.
|English Speaking and Pronunciation||Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?
Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.
|Business Writing||Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?
Join our Business Writing Skills course
|Presentation Skills||Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?
Join our Presentation Skills course.
|Report Writing||Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?
Join our Report Writing course.
|English for Critical Thinking in Business||Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?
Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.
Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.
Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent
“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.
Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.
Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.
Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.
Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.
The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.
Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
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