I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Before just start learning anything did you ever think about the question “What is the best way to learn something?”. Instead of just starting take some time first to find your learning style. To know your learning style can save you a lot of study time on the long run by first finding out what the best way to learn is. This post will cover the seven different ways one can choose to learn something. More information about different factors that influence your learning ability is covered in another post of mine, “Improve your learning curve!”. Below the list of different ways to learn anything. This post breaks all the ways down in how they effective they are for acquiring and retaining information. This will be based on the learning pyramid developed by the National Training Laboratory.

The learning pyramid
The learning pyramid, 7 different ways of learning.

1.   Lecture


2.   Reading


3.   Audio-visual


4.   Demonstration


5.   Discussion


6.   Practice by doing


7.   Teach others

Hey! Are you listening?

Talking is reapitition of your knowledge, listening is acquiring knowledge.

#1. Learning by lecture is learning by hearing and is the least efficient way of learning. After a few weeks our brain only remembers 5% of what we heard. So than what is the point in attending a lecture you might ask. Well that depends completely on what you want to take out of that lecture. If you want to get a global idea about something 5% is more than enough. But if you want to get the hang of something and really want to learn something this 5% is not going to be sufficient. To upgrade your memorizing during classes and lectures I suggest taking notes. By taking notes you are already busy with the content with another part of your brain. Taking a look at the learning pyramid reading back your notes already doubles the amount of content you memorize. Besides that you than have it on paper so you can read it back whenever you forgot something.


Today a reader tomorrow a leader.

Reading a book

#2. Learning by reading is the far most practiced way already since thousands of years ago. Though it is not really that efficient, looking at the learning pyramid you will only memorize 10% of what you read. To improve the amount of content that you will remember after reading it helps to summarize what you have read for yourself in your own words. If you write this summary down you can always read it back. When I did this I ended up having numerous papers and files on my computer. Now a days I underline important things in my books an make notes. Don’t look at it that you ruin the book by painting and writing in it. Look at it that you complete the book, you personalize it to what you need from it. It might take a while to change this feeling of blurring your nice book collection to looking at it as completing it.

Getting the picture. – The power of audio + vision

#3. Learning from the combination of audio and visual is very powerful. It basically means that instead of just listening to lecture, the content gets supported with visuals. This can be anything, think about graphs, pictures, video’s etc. According to the learning pyramid you will memorize 20% of what you learn through audio supported by vision. Again this can be increased by taking notes and this adds the possibility to get back to the content on another moment.

I will believe it when I see it.

#4. Learning from demonstration might sound the same as audio supported by vision. Though there is a major difference between both, demonstration actually shows how it is done. Audio supported by vision is still just explaining things. Demonstration is about exactly showing how it is done by actually performing it. According to the learning pyramid you will memorize 30% of the treated information. The benefit of demonstration is that is exactly shown how it is done, this significantly decreases the chance of misconception.

Discussion is a transfer of knowledge. So bring it to the discussion!

Discussion cartoon

#5. Learning from discussion can not be done by yourself, you need multiple inputs. It is about sharing your own thoughts and knowledge with each other. According to the learning pyramid you will already memorize 50% of the information you bring to discussion. A frequently made mistake is that a discussion should lead to convincing the other of your point of view while it is actually about sharing knowledge and learning from each other. To learn from discussing we could start a conversation with anyone really. But if you remember 50% of discussions, isn’t it than wise to discuss the subject after listening to a lecture, reading a book, getting an explanation or demonstration. This would increase what you memorize about it enormously.

What we learn to do, we learn by doing.

#6. Learning by doing and practicing theory is nice but it can’t replace real experience. The brain more easily remembers actions that you have done. This results according to the learning pyramid in memorizing 75% of the content. An important benefit from learning by doing is that you actually did it. After doing it once you are more comfortable doing it again and that is what it is all about, being able to apply your knowledge or skill.

In teaching others we teach ourselves.

Teaching is learning experience

#7. Learning by teaching others is one people often forget but ends up to be the most efficient way to memorize something. If we look at the learning pyramid this way of learning makes you remember for 90% of the content! There is a big difference between knowing something and being able to teach others. Knowing something for yourself can still be very vague so more likely to be forgotten. Once being able to teach others this means you understand something thoroughly and are able to break it down. Breaking something down to an easy lesson makes it more likely to remember this for yourself as well.

Learning by teaching gives a huge benefit if you compare that to having a lecture. But isn’t it an idea then if you went to a lecture immediately start explaining it to others? Doing this you would go from memorizing 5% to memorizing 95% of the lecture right? Not exactly… Because you will remember 95% of what you explained to others, and what you explained to others is probably not 100% of the lecture. There is already a loss of information between the lecture and you explaining (what you remember of it) to others.


Above the process of learning something is broken up into seven different ways of doing so. When you are interested to get more into depth on one of this seven ways of learning press the drop down menu and choose the way you want more information about. This is a pretty general post but as for anything those ways of learning are also applicable on learning a new language. In the posts for every way of learning I will also explain to you how to learn your languages following that way. I will provide you with some examples and recommendations.

” Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn. “

By the way, you might wanna jump back to this post another time… Since you will only remember 10% 😉

4 thoughts on “Ways of learning”

  1. I agree with your post completely. I like the quote the most. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. That’s how it is in life. The best only way to learn something is by trying to do it. Thanks for sharing those great lessons. I’ll try to remember and understand more than just 10% 🙂

    1. Nice to hear that you like my post and you agree on it. A nice way to make optimal use of the 10% you memorize is by summarizing yourself the lessons you get from content. And make this 10% consist of only the specific lessons that suit you 😉

  2. I’m pretty sure I’m a visual learner and I think this article definitely reinforced that point for me. Was a great read with lots of important information. Thanks for writing this 🙂

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