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Illustration by Sydney Rae Hass for TIME

Forget flashcards: The latest research reveals some surprising new techniques

Cooke wanted to figure out the very best way to learn as fast as possible, so he cofounded Memrise, an online language learning program devoted to that mission. “Science actually hasn’t really asked the question, ‘What’s the fastest way to learn?’” Cooke says. “It’s discovered hundreds of things that help learning, but it hasn’t discovered the perfect recipe.”

From the top 5 methods facing off, Cooke told us some of their top strategies for learning words fast.

  1. Take a guess. One of the best ways to remember a new word, it turns out, is to guess its meaning before you even know it. You’ll likely be wrong, of course. “But just the act of guessing can mean that when you’re then told the answer, you remember the answer much better than if you don’t guess at all,” Cooke says. It works for names, too, he says. Guess someone’s name when you meet for the first time, and when you learn the real name, you’ll remember it better.
  2. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s well established that repetition is key to memory. But one innovation, called mega-drilling, has proven especially powerful. According to this technique, “you’ve got to actively recall the memory 30 times,” Cooke says. So when you meet someone new, you might want to repeat her name 30 times.
  3. Create a mnemonic. Use whatever a new word sounds like or makes you think of, and you’ll remember it more. “It helps connect the word to the knowledge you already have in your mind, and the quality of memory which gets formed is much higher,” Cooke says.
  4. Think spatially. “Humans have an incredible memory for space,” Cooke says. One effective strategy for memorizing words is to picture a room, then attach the word and its meaning to a place in the room.
  5. Relax already. One of the techniques makes you take a weird little break in the middle of memorization. For a minute, you’re told to watch a video of a waterfall. “You’re wasting lots of time,” Cooke says. “But in the process of staring at this video of a waterfall, it calms you down and relaxes your brain and creates space, in a way, for new memories to form afterwards. Taking time out to rest your brain can actually speed you up in the long run.”

Rread the full article: http://time.com/4042569/how-to-improve-memory/?xid=homepage

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