In this article, we will define what rote memorization is and why its effectiveness is debatable. Lastly, we will unveil five methods to memorize faster and more.
What Is Rote Memorization?
Rote learning is one method to memorize new information quickly through repetition – repeating a number repeatedly and hoping that the brain can find a way to memorize it independently.
Teachers can use rote learning methods as a helpful tool when students memorize small pieces of information quickly. The teacher uses repetition so students can recall information quickly. This method is often used in language classes.
Rote memorization has fallen into disrepute in recent years. But why and for what reason? Rote learning can work, but it is not always the suitable method for everyone. If a student is asked to learn the capitals of all Asian countries by heart, this is a reasonable task if they already have a deep understanding of Asia. If the student is approached an entirely new topic, other methods are more appropriate.
According to a study by Dr. Yury Shtyrov, you need about 160 repetitions per unknown word until you have hammered it into your long-term memory. Suddenly, rote memorization does not sound so simple anymore.
Rote learning is not all bad. It can help create foundational knowledge that can help you memorize new content more manageable.
Our brain needs as many points of reference to seed new information to make it easier to remember and permanently save content. If you try to make as many associations as possible and involve several senses, you will likely put the new content into your long-term memory. Associative learning and building bridges to apply abstract information to your environment is the key.
Five Rote Learning Alternatives to Memorize Faster and More
Do you sometimes wonder why your parents can not remember how to convert word to PDF although you have shown them many times? Then how do they do remember the day when you took your first steps? Some learning and memorizing types don’t require rote learning when new information has a high intensity.
When a new piece of information enters the brain with a high entry intensity, feelings are most likely. How can we force high intensity when we need to learn new vocabulary for tomorrow’s German test or my unique phone number? Almost impossible.
Before you start learning new content, you will have to find out the learning method for YOU. Whether you remember information or not depends mainly on how you learn and whether you apply the knowledge. So here are five meaningful learning methods to memorize faster and more for the long term.
1. Break Down the Information into Smaller Pieces
Our brains are not good at remembering more than seven digits at once. This may be the reason why it is difficult for us to memorize more vast numbers or formulas. We need to break down new information into smaller pieces.
Try to remember this number 7464241234521.
Even with the rote memorization method, you will probably not remember it in a hurry by repeating over and over.
It will be much easier for you, if you try to remember individual parts of the number, such as:
- 74 for my mother ́s birthday
- 64 for your uncle’s house number
- 2412 as the date for Christmas
- 345 you can remember as they are following numbers
- 21 could be the biggest birthday party you have had or will have
If you have no personal reference to a number, you can make one up. It will still work.
2. The Loci-Method
Have you seen memory athletes who remember a ridiculously long number within minutes? They most likely used the Loci-Method, where you use a city route with various prominent points or locations and walk along the streets.
You place the information you want to remember to point on the map and walk the way in your mind. You can then collect the corresponding information at each place again.
This method is beneficial when you need to remember a long number or formula but needs practice over time.
3. Senses: Learning by Hearing, Feeling, Listening, and Feeling
This is the method that many school teachers use for their students, where students learn through experiences. Many students can not sit in silence in front of their computers or documents and force the new information into their heads. It helps to visualize, hear, or even feel what they want to remember. Combining different senses to learn by heart can help.
Learning a new phone number with the help of senses may sound weird, but it can work if you use your creativity. Think of songs or make your song with your number; maybe a rhyme can help too.
4. Distribute the Information Everywhere
I recently started learning Indonesian. Everyone who comes into my apartment can see since I have notes with vocabulary and phrases everywhere in the bedroom, in the bathroom, on the mirror, and the shower glass or the couch. If I plan to learn new content by heart, I need to be confronted with it everywhere.
Write down what you want to learn on many little papers and distribute them all over your home. This way, you will constantly be confronted with them, no matter what you are doing. Sometimes different colors or pens can help to memorize them.
It sounds simple, but this type of rote memorization is still a very effective way to learn by heart. If you deal with the same information over and over again, it will eventually be internalized automatically. Therefore, take the opportunity to surround yourself with the learning material.
5. Have Breaks and Sleep
And last but not least, have breaks! Your brain needs breaks and time to work with all the new information. After pushing all this new content into your brain, rote memorization can only really work when you give your brain rest to deal with the new information.
Sleep! Don ́t worry. Your brain will not forget anything while you sleep. It is the opposite. Your brain is very active and transfers the new knowledge into long-term memory. Repeating everything just before you go to sleep can increase the chance that this knowledge will be stored for the long term.
Learning new content is particularly easy if the learner can connect to knowledge and if the new content makes sense. Suppose you have a new hobby, you know many new things quickly because you enjoy it.
Try a few different methods and memory games and work out what learning type you are. Once you understand how you memorize new information fast and practice as much and often as you can for the long term, learning is working, and no one can do that for you.