When we are going through a learning process, there are a few initial crucial factors we have to take into consideration. They are always present and they are the following:
- How much we know on that topic
- What resources we have on that topic and how relevant and valuable they are
- The guidance we get and the experience of the person who’s guiding us
All these three factors can be missing but the more we lack from each of the above-mentioned factors, the less we’re going to achieve after we finish the learning process.
I’m going to take them one by one and then, in the end, I’ll talk about how you can realize you’re starting to become stack on a learning process and how you can advance from a learning process to another.
How much we know on a specific topic
The best thing you can do is to grade yourself from 1 to 10.
If you give yourself a grade that’s between 1 and 5, it means you’re a beginner student and you need to start with the beginner information.
If you give yourself a grade that’s between 5 and 8, it means you’re an intermediate student and you need to start with the intermediate information.
If you give yourself a grade that’s between 8 and 10, it means you’re an advanced student and you need to start with the advanced information.
Before moving on, there are a few things I want to mention here.
A. You should consider yourself a student
I mentioned the word student and you should consider yourself one. If you see yourself as a student, you’re more likely to learn and focus on what you have to learn. It’s about the association between you, as a person, and the word student and the behaviors and mindset behind that word.
B. If you give yourself the grades 5 or 8, it means that you find yourself advancing to the next category
As you can notice, the grades 5 and 8 are part of two categories of students. If you believe that’s the level of your current knowledge, it means you still have to go through some beginner stuff in order to reach the intermediate one, or some intermediate stuff to reach the advanced one.
After you decide how much you know on that topic, it’s time to search for resources.
What resources we have on that topic and how relevant and valuable they are
When it comes to learning, the resources you’re using to learn something are vital.
If you get to work with the wrong resources, they can set you on the wrong path or even provide you with the wrong (or incorrect) information.
That’s why, when you’re deciding on a specific resource that you want to use to learn more, it’s ideal to go through the following steps.
A. Make a list of articles, courses and books
Let’s say you want to learn how to paint and draw.
Before you are actually going to start the process of learning, make sure you gather articles, courses and books on how to become a better painter. The more, the better.
Then, you should structure your resources.
Just with a simple search on Google, I can find 8 different types of drawing:
- Line drawing
I can do the same for painting too, but you get my point. Then, you should structure your resources for these categories and, more importantly, pick one category.
Don’t try to learn from all of them. Pick one and make sure you stick with it for at least a few weeks up to a few months.
B. Make a list of experts
Maybe you are just starting out or you are an intermediate.
Honestly speaking, I don’t see an expert finding value in this part of the article simply because when you are an expert you most probably know your learning process.
After you have yourself a list of 5 to 10 experts, send them an email with the resources you have for a specific category, tell them where you are (the level of your knowledge) and ask them what they think about your resources.
C. Conclude and make a decision
You’ll get different answers from different experts.
You’ll have to be patient and don’t rush into picking a resource after just one expert responds to your email. The more responses you get, the better you’ll be able to decide on a specific resource.
For example, if 4 out of 10 experts are recommending you a specific course on line drawing, then it means that maybe it’s worth having a look at that course. But if 8 out of 10 are recommending you some YouTube channel, then for sure you’ll have to go through most of the videos on that channel.
The guidance we get and the experience of the person who’s guiding us
It’s really important to find someone (maybe a mentor) who can guide you in your learning process.
A mentor can help you avoid crucial mistakes and can give you insights on how to reach faster the goal you set yourself regarding the things you want to learn.
But finding a mentor is not easy and it may take you months or even years to find one.
Considering that at a previous step you had to contact experts, maybe one of these experts can be your mentor.
Nonetheless, how do you pick your mentor?
In my case, I look at two things: experience and values.
For me, the experience is really important. After all, if I decide to be guided by someone, I’d like that someone to have some badass experience in the field I’m trying to learn more.
Just having a strong background is not enough. For example, if the mentor values a positive lifestyle and freedom (which I also value) it means that I’ll find it easier to learn things from that specific mentor.
Becoming stuck and advancing on the next learning process
As we keep learning things, we reach that point where we feel like we don’t learn as much as we expect. Or the things that we learn are harder to understand.
If you’re in that situation, the next thing is going to come in handy.
Imagine a scale from 1 to 100, with learning units of 10, just like the one from the image below.
To make sense, I’m going to take as example the learning process behind learning a new language.
Let’s say your native language is anything but English and you want to learn English.
This learning scale, from 1 to 100, is for learning English with Duolingo.
When you learn a language with Duolingo, you learn grammar and that’s basically all. If you’ve ever tried to learn a language with Duolingo and then you tried to speak with someone, you probably felt so uncomfortable because you haven’t actually spoken with anyone while learning English with Duolingo.
This means that the closer you’ll get to 100 on the learning above learning scale, the less you’ll feel like you learn English. But at the same time, you can’t feel comfortable speaking English because Duolingo is not helping you with that.
Let’s say we get to the last learning unit of 10 and that’s where we feel like we can’t advance anymore using Duolingo. That’s where we have that feeling of ‘being stuck’.
Here’s another learning scale of 100.
We have a new learning scale for learning English through speaking. And this learning scale includes the whole Duolingo learning scale. You can’t speak English if you don’t know the grammar and can’t properly get the words out of your mouth.
At the same time, you don’t have to know the English grammar perfectly to speak the language, right?
That’s why I believe on the previous scale, you should stop after 7 or 8 learning units.
As you can see (and this is a fictive representation) on the new learning scale, Duolingo represents only 2 learning units of 10.
In case you want to learn another language fast and you don’t feel comfortable speaking with others but you have reached this point where you have to speak to improve, here’s a great tip.
Listen to podcasts, songs or anything in that specific language. Make sure those who are speaking it are natives. The tip is to pause regularly and repeat out loud what you hear. Don’t try to do it for more than 3 to 5 words in a row – it doesn’t have to be a full sentence.
But that’s not all.
Here’s another learning scale of 100.
You can barely see Duolingo, right?
The third step of improving your English can be writing the language. It will help you understand the language better and will give you clarity over the words that you’re generally using.
What I’m trying to say with these learning scales is this: don’t try to become the best at something because that something can always be part of something else that’s bigger.
Instead, try to get to the point where what you are trying to learn can help you advance to the next phase.
With love and optimism,