So… Keep This In Mind If You’re Serious About Memory


So, that’s it friends! We’ve gone through 12 amazing tips to improve your memory, and believe me, perfecting any single skill out of all those I mentioned will already make a big difference in your learning. Before we conclude and pass on to something else though, here are a few additional words.

Bernard Shaw once remarked: “If you teach a man anything, he will never learn.” Shaw was right. Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. If you desire to master the principles we have covered in the 12 previous posts, do something about it. Apply these rules at every opportunity. If you don’t, you will forget them quickly. As the Chinese saying goes: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind. And you wouldn’t want to forget how to remember, would you?

In the end, it’s all about convincing your brain that what you are learning is important. Forgetting is normal, and it’s a good thing. Your brain simply won’t remember information unless it is convinced that it’s necessary. The 12 tips I have mentioned are all amazing ways to do just that. If you put into practice just a fourth of what I’ve recommended, you’ll already see amazing results. The hardest part is to actually get into the habit of using these tricks. I know it’s not easy, I’m lazy too. But if you actually put in the effort necessary, you will improve your memory exponentially, and this will help you in every facet of your life, from remembering your friend’s birthday, to remembering words and phrases when learning a foreign language.

Dale Carnegie, in “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” says this about remembering something as simple as people’s names: “Most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves; they are too busy. But they were probably no busier than Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he took time to remember and recall even the names of mechanics with whom he came into contact.”

Carnegie adds that one of the first lessons a politician learns is as follow: “To recall a voter’s name is statesmanship. To forget it is oblivion.” And, most importantly, he adds that “the ability to remember names is almost as important in business and social contacts as it is in politics.

Improving your ability to memorize and remember just about anything, then, won’t just be beneficial for when it comes to language learning; it’s a skill that has the possibility to literally change your life on so many aspects, from networking and business to academic success, work productivity, and more.

So remember this well: there are four key skills when it comes to success in learning, no matter what the method:

• Absorbing knowledge effectively (see, among others, Memory Tip #7)

• Note-taking (see especially Memory Tip #6)

• Memorizing (see all twelve Memory Tips)

• Reviewing (see especially Memory Tip #6)

All four of these skills were covered more or less in detail during the 12 posts on memory I have written. As you can see, success in learning any knowledge is in great part accomplished through a rigorous framework ultimately based on memorization. Once knowledge is effectively gained through proper technique, developing a skill will come much more easily through actual practice. This has tremendous implications for our lives and success.

The challenge you will have to face now is to fight against your laziness instinct that will invariably try to put off learning these memory techniques to “later”, and, well, we all know that “later” never comes. This is what I term the laziness paradox (see my guest post on The Polyglot Dream blog if you’ve missed it). Even though we know that the benefits of seriously studying/applying the memory techniques I have outlined in these 12 posts might outweigh the actual costs (i.e. time and effort) 100:1, chances are our human nature will preclude us from doing so. You are not alone, I am exactly that way too. A Chinese proverb goes like this: “To chop a tree quickly, spend twice the time sharpening your ax.” I know we are all too lazy to spend the time necessary in sharpening our axes, but think about the benefits of doing so, and try to nudge yourself into doing it. You won’t regret the benefits you will reap from having invested the time and effort necessary. If you want some additional tips to fight procrastination, check my post on the subject.

I hope you have enjoyed these posts on How to Drastically Improve Your Memory, and if these tips were useful to you in any way, I’d love if you could share this page with your friends! Also, I’m always open to comments and feedback, so please do not hesitate to leave a message. If you have post requests, by all means also speak up!

If you’ve missed any of the memory tips I’ve covered in the 12 previous posts, don’t procrastinate another minute and click on the following links!: Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3, Tip# 4, Tip #5, Tip #6, Tip #7, Tip #8, Tip #9, Tip #10, Tip #11, Tip #12

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  • Show Comments (5)

  • Rob


    Thanks for the great series, so in depth! It’s really useful for all sorts of disciplines, but of course language learning comes to mind.
    One question – do you think there comes a point in language learning when there’s a switch from memorisation (phrases, vocab, etc), and more to instant recall? I guess what I mean is, during the beginner stages one tends to memorise more than produce, but during later stages this switches around.

    Thanks for the great posts!

  • The series on memorization was incredibly helpful & I’m super excited about starting to use the techniques in the language learning process. I could definitely see that guide as a great opt-in for your newsletter as it’s incredibly useful. Thanks!

  • Hi Sam, I’m enjoying the site!

    First I’d just like to say that the tips you’ve laid out are quite insightful. Learning a language isn’t easy, but most of us make it harder than it needs to be. You’re doing a great job of helping people get on the right track. Thanks for that.

    On the other hand, while studying is great, language is really about communication. I know from my own experience that one can spend months studying, only to find oneself completely lost in real life situations.

    So, I was wondering if you could share some ideas about how to put theory into practice. A few suggestions about how to work on actual communication would be great!

  • Brandon

    Bonjour Sam,

    J’ai une question bête. Est-ce que tu es québécois?
    Le français est ta langue maternelle, n’est-ce pas?

    Bien à toi,


    (P.-S. Je suis anglo-canadien et j’étudie pour devenir professeur de français!)

  • I found your blog through your guest post on the Polyglot Dream, and am so glad I did! As I said in my comment there, my main issue when it comes to language learning is remembering the vocabulary, so I will definitely be having a look through your tips for improving memory! I’m also guilty of laziness… I want to see results quickly and get impatient when I can’t get my head around something. I need to ‘sharpen my axe’ for longer it would seem!


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