5 Research-Backed Learning Styles to Master Skills Quickly

learning styles
Have you ever learned something that was quickly forgotten in a matter of days?

All that time and effort we invested into learning it gets flushed down the toilet, never to be remembered. Whether it’s learning a new language, a speech presentation, or any skill.

The root of this problem is often from the way we learned the skill in the first place. However, few of us were educated at an early age on what is the most effective way to learn that will help us learn faster, and allow us to retain that information or skill.

Today, we’re going to share with you 5 powerful, research-backed learning styles that will allow you to master any skill quicker.

1. Find a bigger purpose for learning

When we have a passion for learning something, it’s easy to pour our energy into it and retain the information we learn.

Have you ever seen a movie or heard a talk, where your eyes were glued to the screen or speaker, and you could recall every bit of detail, even after a few weeks or months?

What about hearing your relative complain about how high the gasoline prices are rising? Not the same effect is it?

We need to have a bigger purpose for why we’re learning something and have the ability to visualize it, or else our brain is not going be triggered to active itself to retain the information.

Learning for the sake of learning is rarely a good idea.

When Michael Jordan got cut from his highschool basketball team, he didn’t wake up every morning to shoot thousands of free throws so that he could make next year’s basketball team. His goal was to become the best player in the world.

More relevantly: if you want to learn Spanish, you’re going to be more motivated to reach fluency if you’re planning to visit Spain in 3 months, then if you were learning for the sake of it.

Or if you want to learn how to communicate more effectively, you’ll be more motivated if your goal is to become a keynote speaker one day in front of thousands of people, versus wanting to tell funny stories to your friends.

This simple shift in our perspective can determine how motivated we feel when we’re learning anything new, and it’s what will enable us to take the necessary action to remember more of what we learn including…

2. Write it down

Were you a lab top note-taker or the good ol’ fashioned pen and paper person? If you were the former, you’re in luck.

During a study done by Psychological Science:

An experiment tested both groups of note-takers (pen and labtop users) exactly half an hour after the lecture, which left them without the opportunity to review. The psychological scientists decided to explore this concept further and conducted a second experiment in which these students would be given a week to review for the exam. 

Even after a week of review, the students who took notes in longhand were found to do significantly better than the other students in the experiment, including the fleet typists — those who transcribed the lectures. 

Overall, it seems those who type their notes may potentially be at risk for “mindless processing.” The old fashioned note taking method of pen and paper boosts memory and the ability to understand concepts and facts. 

What can we take away from this study?

One, I think it’s important to note that, when you’re learning anything new, it’s important to write it down — whether it’s on your labtop or your notebook.

But secondly, it’s highly more effective when we use pen and paper to remember it.

3. Teach someone else

Have you ever tried explaining a concept or problem to someone, and found yourself remembering most of the information you taught?

When you’re teaching something to someone else, you’re forced to simplify the concept in order to help the other person easily understand it, and therefore helping yourself understand it more clearly.

And as research shows, it turns out that people retain:

5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
20% of what they learn from audio-visual.
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately.

When you’re teaching, try to use mental associations as a tool to help the student and yourself connect the information together.

For example: if you wanted to remember the word “arroz” in Spanish, which means rice. You could visualize a story of when you “arose” in the morning to prepare the rice for dinner.

I’ve found the more random and strange the story, the easier it is to remember, so give it a shot!

You could also use mindmaps to help you create a visual overview for the different connections you are trying to make.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.”— Steve Jobs

4. Use it or lose it

As the old saying goes “use it or lose it…”

For the language learners out there, you’ve probably heard of someone learning a new language, even reaching fluency level, and forgetting most of it because they stopped practicing.

This in fact, is one of the biggest reasons why people forget to speak a language or any skill they’ve learned in the past. It’s the lack of practice.

So how do we make sure we get consistent practice?

Schedule it

This goes for not just skill retention, but also for productivity in general.

As almost any productivity coach will attest: the best way to ensure something gets done is to schedule it in your calendar.

It sounds incredibly simple, but it’s also incredibly powerful.

I force myself to schedule everything that’s important to me, especially in the morning, including: studying spanish, reading, and working on Rype.

If there’s a skill you want to retain, carve out 30–60 minutes of your day to practice it, and soon (studies claim 66 days) it will be come a habit you’ve developed.

Surround yourself with fellow members

We become the average of the 5 people we hang around with. I’m sure you’ve already heard of this saying, but this is directly applicable for skill learning as well.

If your goal is to learn a new language when living in Argentina, you’re not going to get better by hanging out with only foreigners. You need to put yourself into situations, no matter how uncomfortable, where you’re forced to communicate in Spanish.

There’s a reason why being a great entrepreneur requires hanging out with entrepreneurs, and why comedians want to hang out with other comedians.

It allows us to constantly be in a learning state, as we’re around others who are either better or have complementary skill-sets, while receiving immediate feedack.

Leverage the internet

If you don’t have people that you can surround yourself with, you can check out Meetup groups, events, and online forums.

Today, there’s solutions online that you can leverage that makes it easier than ever to help us learn faster, and improve our skills.

This was the vision for Rype, as we realized that millions of language learners around the world lack easy access to native speakers to practice their skills, therefore slowly deteiorating their hard-earned skills.

With the power of the internet, we can connect a teacher from Cusco, Peru with a language learner in Los Angeles, California for a conversation lesson, in a matter of seconds.

Or how about masterminds or online groups? There’s free or premium groups online that you can join which will give you access to elite influencers in your field, surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and take your skills to the next level.

There has never been a more exciting time to leverage the internet to connect with others around the world, we just have to take advantage of what’s here!

5. Take care of yourself

It’s easy to think from our college days to think that we can transition our late-night cramming sessions into learning a new skill.

But this produces quite the opposite effect.

Late-night cramming sessions may work for short-term memory, but if we want to retain our skills over the long term, cramming never works.

Dozens of studies have shown that the more sleep you get, the more you’ll be able to retain.

Researchers have tested this process by teaching people new skills and then scanning their brains after a period with or without sleep. When people have a chance to sleep, for example, after practicing a skill similar to piano scales, the centers of the brain that control speed and accuracy are more active than those regions in people who haven’t slept.

Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information.

The quality of your sleep is also as critical as the quantity of your sleep.

Low-quality sleep negatively impact mood, which has consequences for learning. Alterations in mood affect our ability to acquire new information and retain that information.

How do we get better sleep? One method is by exercising.

But exercising does more for our learning and skill retention than just better sleep.

Exercise improves learning on three levels: It optimizes your mindset, by improving alertness, attention, and motivation. It prepares and encourages nerve cells to intersect, preparing our brain to acquire new information. And it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory and learning.

To give you a visual example: this is the difference your brain experiences from sitting versus walking.


Let’s go through the 5 learning styles again to help you remember them:

1. Find a bigger purpose for learning

  • Have a goal or destination in mind (use the skill as a stepping stone to get to where you want to go)
  • Visualize your goal in your mind and do it as often as possible
  • Have a deadline for when you want to achieve your destination, whether it’s traveling somewhere, starting a business, etc.

2. Write it down

  • Writing things down retains more information in our brains
  • Pen & paper beats typing on labtops

3. Teach someone else

  • People retain 90% of what they teach someone else
  • Teach it to yourself if there’s no one around you to teach
  • Use mental associations, such as mindmaps to create visual overview of what you’re learning

4. Use it or lose it

  • Schedule it: block a time off your calendar to study, review, and practice
  • Surround yourself with fellow learners: get around people who have achieved the results you desire, and learn from them
  • Leverage the internet: use Meetup.com, events, and online forums to connect with like-minded individuals to keep yourself accountable and motivated

5. Take care of yourself

  • More & better sleep = learn faster, retain more information, and improve mood
  • Exercise helps improve quality of sleep, but it’s also proven to activate neurons in your brain to improve learning and memory retention

That’s all there is to it!

Next time you’re looking to learn or retain a new skill, keep these 5 learning styles in mind, and you’re well ahead of the pack!

Is there anything above that we missed or do you have any tips that have worked for you? We’d love to hear them!

Sean is the CEO of Rype (24/7 unlimited private language lessons for busy people). He loves to travel while investing in & building businesses.