Acquiring information by relating the information to your personal experience, requires more activity than just committing it to memory. Nevertheless, the activity is so much more pleasant and you remember better! You will probably not experience it as work. Listen to people who are skillful at acquiring and using information. They use phrases such as “getting used to new information,” “seeing the big picture”, or “getting a feel for it”. Every one of these phrases touches on the same essential idea. People do not learn by passively copying information into their memory the way that you enter data into a computer. The human way to learn instead is to transform information in some way that gives it personal meaning.

In the same sense, you can dramatically learn new information or improve your memory by using memory training methods or memory techniques that teaches you how to relate information. In this manner, you can understand subject matter better and accelerate your learning. The better you understand the way your mind naturally assimilates and transforms information, the more you will be able to use this knowledge to gain ownership of new information. This is the crucial link to the “remember-memory” cycle – the use of your 5 other senses.

I spent 2 years in high school learning Japanese. I found the language incredibly hard to learn, but a fellow classmate always seemed to find it easy. Why did he find it so simple? The answer, as it turned out, is that he spoke Korean at home. There are some similarities, therefore he could learn the Japanese by thinking of similar words and grammatical forms in Korean.

Many people think that quantity or technical content is what makes information easy or hard. That is not the case. What makes information easy is familiarity. Even large quantities of information and highly technical facts can be easy to master once you have enough experience with similar material.

There is a well-known rule that states, “Understand the new by relating it to what you already know”. This is a good rule. It has a corollary, however, that is just as useful but not as well known. The corollary states, “If you cannot easily relate it to what you already know you will find it almost unlearnable.” You need to expect that anything very unfamiliar is likely to be quite difficult.

Having recognized this fact, you should keep in mind that there are ways of making unfamiliar ideas seem less foreign. Some techniques are harder on you. These methods usually work faster, but they can also give you more stress and are generally more demanding. Other techniques are gentler. They are more pleasant, but they also take longer to produce results.

The best understood of the “hard” techniques is called immersion. This is the do-or-die method of learning. A typical example of immersion is to learn Chinese by living in China or Taiwan. You learn because you have no other choice. Everyday exposure to the language makes works and phrases start to seem familiar. Research shows that immersion is extremely effective, even though immersion programs can also be quite stressful. Nevertheless, they work very well for “remember-memory” cycles for effective learning.

“Soft” techniques use a strategy that breaks down the learning into bite-size pieces. They work from the principle that you can approach an unfamiliar subject step-by-step. A good example is the use of what educational researchers call transitional objects. These are objects that exist both in the concrete physical world and in the world of knowledge that you are trying to master.

Consider the way software companies try to help customers feel comfortable with their products. They deliberately use terms from everyday life such as clipboards, files, notebooks, Web pages, and cutting and pasting to describe processes in the computer. In effect, these terms serve as transitional objects. The purpose of using them is to make these processes seem less foreign. Using names that are both descriptive and familiar makes the processes themselves seem familiar as well.

Author's Bio: 

Martin Mak has developed a new program to help people remember better. Find out how with his free and popular ecourse at