Tips for Independent Learning

17 Valuable Tips for Independent Learning

You have decided to learn something new.

Learn Italian at last, learn how to make websites, create effective advertising, master Photoshop, learn to write correctly, type with ten fingers, draw well, knit, sew clothes. Or maybe you are interested in geography, history, other sciences?

We live in a wonderful time when we have access to vast amounts of information. We can study so much without leaving home. There are courses, lectures, articles, books from the coolest professionals on the Internet. You can live in a small village and study with a famous teacher from a big city.

But before we start, let’s find out how to make this training easier and more effective. How not to abandon it after the first lessons, not to be disappointed. Unfortunately, many people simply do not know how to learn on their own.

1. The desire to learn

Here is probably the most important thing you need. If you don’t have a great desire or an important reason, nothing will work. At first, you feel the enthusiasm, then it will pass, the routine will come. There will be difficult stages of learning, you will need all the effort you can get through them. And all that will move you forward is that very reason. You can’t last long on willpower alone, don’t try. Think back to a time when you’ve finished some big, time-consuming undertaking. What drove you to a victorious finish? Interest, desire, or an important reason.

2. Set a realistic goal

Difficulties in learning come from those who aren’t clear about what it is they’re aiming for. Don’t have general goals like, “I want to be fluent in English. What exactly will you do with your English? Regularly communicate with foreigners or watch movies and read articles on English-language sites? What do you want to draw – comics, pencil portraits? Or maybe landscapes in watercolor? Are you planning to become a professional over time, taking some kind of exam, or participating in contests? Or are you just studying for your own pleasure? Of course, you need to develop all the skills: you can’t say you speak English if you can’t speak it. But put the main emphasis on your goal.

3. Look for good courses and study materials.

Don’t haphazardly pluck information from the Internet: “Now I’ll learn how to draw eyes, and tomorrow – a flower or a cat. Today I will learn this list of verbs, and tomorrow I will learn how the future tense is formed. The best way to learn is through courses like this, where experienced teachers consistently, lesson by lesson, lead you from the very basics to complex rules and skills. This course is the foundation of your learning. But you can supplement it with other articles and lessons from the Internet on your own to repeat, clarify, or practice what you’ve learned.

4. Time for Lessons

For serious lessons, you need at least one hour a day. Two to three hours is better. You can divide the time: study a little in the afternoon and then continue in the evening. Some people study better in the morning, before twelve o’clock in the afternoon. Others in the evening – after six. In the daytime our brains are a little more relaxed, clogged with current problems, and everyone’s learning abilities are equally average. If you can choose, find the time that works best for you. It will improve your learning efficiency several times over.

5. Don’t burn out

Learning is not a sprint. It’s a long marathon. If you take too fast a start, you’ll run out of steam early, and you’ll have to get out of the race. If now, on enthusiasm, you start training for five to eight hours a day, after a week you will get bored with it, and gradually the exercise will come to naught. Keep a steady, relaxed pace, never overwork, and do not torture yourself.

6. Take notes

Write down important information and rules briefly. This way you memorize better, and also from the notes you can easily repeat the passed material. Notes will help when you apply knowledge in practice, as in a couple of minutes you can find something to clarify.

7. Get a notebook for questions

During self-study, questions constantly appear. Be sure to write them down. Then try to find the answers on the Internet, or, if you can’t, ask a professional or more experienced student.

8. Advice for Creative People and Beyond

This applies to everyone who has decided to learn a creative occupation: photography, music, drawing, needlework, etc. Often in art classes, I see a sad spectacle when a person learns to draw and every day draws uninteresting things “for practice”. They think: “I’ll learn then I’ll paint what I like”. As a result, the desire to draw quickly disappears. Sometimes, they’ll assign a free sketch and the student draws… a computer. If you ask, “Why did you choose the computer? What feelings does it evoke in you? What did you want to say with your work?” he’ll answer, “Nothing. It’s a practice drawing.” He drew the first thing he could see! But you’re an artist! Be an artist from the first drawing. Get away from the computer, go outside, at least get into the pantry. Find something that evokes feelings and emotions. Even negative ones. Let your drawing is still technically inept, but it already expresses you as an artist. Of course, you’ll have to draw a lot of “educational” productions, but don’t forget that you are already an artist. Express yourself, use what you have learned, improvise.

9. Constantly practice

Try to put what you’ve learned into practice right away. For example, if you started learning Spanish, make a diary, and try to keep it in English. Express in two or four phrases what you did today, how you feel. For example: “Monday, May 7. I studied a lot today. I am tired. It’s raining.” Look up the right words in the dictionary. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try to read simple books (there are special books adapted for the very, very beginners). If you’re learning Russian, for example, and you’ve learned what introductory words are, open your favorite book and find as many introductory words as you can. Mechanically memorized rules that your brain can’t find a practical application for will quickly and without trace weed out of your head.

10. Further, the Easier

If you haven’t learned anything in a long time, it will be difficult at first. But your memory and attention span will quickly train up, and you’ll notice that concentrating and remembering new material will become increasingly easier.

11. Seek out like-minded people

Groups in social networks, websites, forums where many people study or do what you are interested in. The atmosphere of such a community of like-minded people constantly inspires you to continue learning. You will also find a lot of new, useful information there and you can ask questions (haven’t you forgotten your question-book?).

12. Don’t be embarrassed by forced interruptions in learning

If the training course is for six months, a year or more, you are bound to have breaks. There will be illnesses and other unpredictable circumstances. Be prepared for this and be sure to return to your studies at the first opportunity. Start with an easy repetition of what you have learned.

13. Three Dangerous Crises in Learning

There are three dangerous learning milestones or crises when the vast majority of people give up and drop out. You will need willpower and perseverance to overcome these milestones. The first crisis appears at the very beginning, after the first class. For some reason, it is at this stage that half of the students quit, even though they seemed to be interested, but… “someday later I’ll come back to it”. Don’t fall for that thought. “Later” is already here. The second dangerous crisis comes in the middle when enthusiasm is already low. Suddenly you stumble upon a very difficult topic that you will “chisel” for a long time, but you’ll get it badly.

And you will start to put off lessons under various excuses until you abandon them forever. Do not give up! Think of all the things you abandoned in the middle of because of difficulties. Three-quarters of people do that. At least somehow, at least thinly or slowly get over the unfortunate subject and move on. The third crisis, strange as it may seem, comes when there is nothing left before the finish line. You will suddenly feel that the strength has left you, and there will be a great temptation to finish right now, ahead of schedule. Don’t do it! Only a very few people, about one person in ten or fifteen, know how to finish things that have begun. Become that person.

14. Beware of perfectionism

The pursuit of perfection is the greatest enemy of learning. Don’t let perfectionism slow you down. It usually manifests itself in the desire to bring some knowledge or skills to “perfection” before moving on to the next topic or lesson. Don’t give in. You will get stuck and lose interest in learning. Your task: keep going forward and forward. You can tighten your knowledge and improve your skills as you study other topics, as well as when you get to the end of the course. What seems difficult to you now, will soon become easier.

15. Give your mind a rest

If you have to go through a difficult topic or watch a hard-to-understand, information-laden lecture, take frequent short breaks. For example, you’re watching a lecture and every ten minutes you pause the video and rest. At the same time you think about and “digest” the information you have just heard. So you will be more attentive. Otherwise, your attention will quickly dissipate, and much of the valuable information will pass by. Watch important lectures two or three times.

16. Do not be afraid to make mistakes!

During your studies, you will make many mistakes. So already now change your attitude to them, make friends with them. Unfortunately, most adults still retain the school attitude towards mistakes. They are afraid of making mistakes and are ashamed if they do something wrong. Relax! You are all grown up now, and no one will scold or shame you. Realize that if you make a mistake, it doesn’t mean you are bad or stupid (as we are often taught as children). Mistakes are just beacons, signals that tell you what else you need to work on. Or that you’re tired, that you’re not concentrating well. That’s all! That’s all.

17. Notice Your Progress

We tend to pay attention only to mistakes, to what we still don’t know well or what we don’t get. So consciously notice your successes, even the smallest ones. And they are always there. That’s all the advice. There is nothing difficult. Try, come up with your own ways to learn, to remember new information, to practice skills. Maybe over time, you will have your own developments. And you’ll tell the world about them. In the meantime, we wish you good luck! Don’t wait for the perfect time to start learning, start today.

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