It’s definitely a good idea to never stop learning, but do learning programs actually help? After spending so many years in elementary school, high school, and perhaps college, it can be hard to keep the brain thirsty for knowledge, but several companies out there try to get us to buy their products in an attempt to learn a new skill. But is it possible for these study programs to teach us, or do we need a classroom setting with instructors and structure?
Whether you want to learn a new language, improve your memory, or just be smarter all-around, there are products out there geared towards your goal. Most of them are designed to be used at home, and at your own pace. Some of the audio programs are even meant to be used while you’re driving around, or working out. The portability is in place so that you don’t have an excuse not to study, and you can kill some time that is just downtime anyway.
Evaluating Learning Programs
So how can you tell which learning programs are right for you? First, you have to know exactly what your goal is. Be very specific. If you only have a vague idea of what you want to learn, you might be convinced to go with a product that isn’t suited to your overall strategy. For example, if you want to study Spanish in an attempt to survive your trip to Spain, you don’t need a program that is designed to get you fluent in Spanish. You just need a basic course that focuses on survival Spanish so that you can make introductions and ask simple questions at hotels and restaurants.
We kept this in mind during our own evaluations of the following learning products, and tried to answer the most basic question of all: Do they actually work?
Product Review Recaps
Pimsleur Method Recap
The Pimsleur Method has been sold for decades and was often promoted as being the system that NASA would use to train its astronauts, or the US Government would use to quickly get its ambassadors up to speed. This would be some pretty impressive testimonials, and would make it worth giving their programs a try.
The system itself focuses primarily on audio material, so if you’re an audial learner you’ll likely have success with learning programs like this. We’re pretty sure you won’t be able to learn a new language in the 10 days it claims you can, but it should be able to give you a solid grounding of the basics in a short time.
See our full review of the Pimsleur Method
ZOX Pro Training Recap
ZOX Pro Training really lays it on thick as far as the claims go. If you can get past their rather long list of benefits they say their product endows you with, you might actually learn something from their system. It’s designed to be able to get you to take mental pictures of everything you read, and retain this information for life.
That feature alone would be a life-changing experience for most of us, and we’ve all heard stories or urban legends of people that can speed-read and remember everything they read. Are they exceptions to the rule, or an anyone do it?
See our full review of ZOX Pro Training
Brainetics one of the learning programs for those that want to be able to remember more of what they read, and also to be able to complete math problems without using a calculator. You may be familiar with this because of so many ads being run on TV. It says it will help you unlock your brain’s full potential, but hopefully our brains can do much more than solve math calculations.
It also says that it helps boost your memory and unlocks your learning potential. Learning how to learn might sound a little strange, but it actually makes sense and can make a difference in other areas of your life.
See our full review of Brainetics
Rosetta Stone Recap
Rosetta Stone is one of the leaders in the language learning programs market, and perhaps the best-selling or most widely known system in existence. Their latest system feature a comprehensive system of audio learning, video presentations, and activities designed to keep the process interesting and fun. They don’t rely on rote memorization, and their system is designed so that you should be able to recall what you learn quickly and effortlessly.
It is rather pricey, but find out if we determined whether or not it’s worth the price in our full-length evaluation.
See our full review of Rosetta Stone
Rocket Languages Recap
Rocket Languages is one of the newest language systems, relatively speaking, but it has gained its share of the market from its competitors. It has a large number of different languages that you can learn. It includes the most popular ones like Spanish, Italian, and French, as well as several Asian languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. It also features programs in Hindi, Arabic, and even American Sign Langauge.
They include a mix of audio and video and also have an online learning center so you don’t feel like you’re studying solo all of the time.
See our full review of Rocket Languages
Millionaire Memory Recap
This program claims that a great memory is the key to success in life. Some of what they’ll say you’ll learn is how to remember people’s names that you meet, and how to remember where you left something in your home. Millionaire Memory also says you’ll be able to recall everything that you read, giving you the edge in business or at school.
While it’s been proven for decades that remembering facts and figures is not the key to success in life, look at Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg for proof, an improved memory can help you in many other aspects, and is worth the effort.
What to Avoid
The learning programs you should avoid are the ones that make the most promises. You want a system that takes a reasonable approach to how much you can learn, and how quickly. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a sales pitch, because they are expertly written to make you desperately want the product. They will try to paint a picture of a world in which you can now speak another language, or walk around a crowded party and have everyone’s name memorized. That’s called “selling the sizzle”. You want to find a product that is all steak, with just a little sizzle.
This is the biggest tip off of a product that you should avoid. Anything that promises that you’ll be able to read thousands of times faster, or learn a new language effortlessly and in a short time, or be able to memorize everything you see and hear, are all out to make a sale. It’s so easy to make a big claim, because there isn’t much consequence to not living up to it. The worst that can happen is that some people will say they didn’t get the results, and you just refund the money.
Know Your Learning Style
There are so many different learning styles, and more seem to be emerging as time goes by, but you should have a general understanding of how you learn. This will help greatly in deciding which learning programs to go with, and which to avoid. Each one will cater to a specific style, and some will even try to appease all styles by offering different multimedia and resources.
There are those that learn best by listening to a lecture, or to audio. Then there are those that learn by seeing presentations or videos. There are others that learn from writing down information they hear. And still others need to get active and participate in the learning process, either by doing an activity or holding a product with their hands. There are several other learning styles, and you don’t have to be a particular one. Many people show traits of several different styles, and need a mix of techniques to help them learn.
How Children Learn
You may have noticed with your own children, or you may remember yourself at a young age, but children have a unique capacity to learn new information and apply it to new situations. This is because their minds are still being formed, and they have large amounts of brain cells still active. They are also curious, as everything is new to them. This makes them prime candidates for learning, since they are open to the idea of learning something new.
The way young children learn a new language is perhaps the best evidence of how quickly they can pick things up. It is said by just having two different native speakers in the home, that a child will naturally learn both languages at the same time, without any sort of formal study. This is amazing, because the same could definitely not be said for adults.
In countries like Japan and Korea they expose their children to native English speakers at a very young age. It is remarkable to see how fast they can pick up new vocabulary, and how they try to make sense of the world around them and all of the new sounds they are expected to make. Sometimes they will learn a new English word before they learn it in their native language, and they’ll remember it months later.
It’s natural to want to rekindle that childlike quest for learning, but it’s harder to actually do it in real life with learning programs at home.
How Adults Learn
Whether it’s our public school systems, or just something in our brains that shuts off at a certain age, it seems by the time we hit our late twenties the urge to keep learning gets less and less. It’s as if we figure out our place in the world and just accept the status quo. Learning also represents change, which is a fearful thing for most people.
Adult education is said to be one of the hardest things to do as a teacher. This is because a lot of unlearning has to take place before any learning can get done. As adults, we have picked up several bad habits in the way our brains gain and assimilate new knowledge. We have a lot of experiences stacked up in our brains, and this makes it hard to look at new information with the fresh eyes that a child uses.
Also, adults are usually much more busy during the day than children are, and have their routine firmly in place. Anything that doesn’t fit in the routine gets placed on the back burner, so there isn’t that strong desire for new information or a thirst for knowledge that you see in kids. Humans also lose brain cells as we age, and we can also kill them off more quickly by overindulging in alcohol, a popular activity in many of the country’s college campuses.
Your Subconscious Mind
Many learning programs that follow a New Age sort of ideology will reference your subconscious mind a lot. The thought is that there’s your conscious mind, the thing you use to get around every day, the one you use to make decisions, to judge what you like and what you don’t like, and the mind that figures out what you’re going to do from moment to moment as you’re awake.
Behind that mind is your subconscious mind, the one that’s really calling the shots and guiding your conscious mind and getting you to do the things you do. If there is every any conflict between the conscious mind and subconscious mind, the theory is that it’s your subconscious mind that wins, every time. So when you can’t explain why you did something, or why you repeat the same mistakes over and over, they say that it is the programming of your subconscious mind that is sabotaging the wishes of your conscious mind.
It’s pretty heavy stuff, but many of the learning programs out there will say that they can help you tap into your subconscious mind so that you can perform some pretty amazing tasks effortlessly. It also was a big part of The Secret and The Law of Attraction because it is a matter of conditioning your subconscious mind to focus on what you want long enough for it to appear in your reality. As long as you don’t have your subconscious mind on board with what you want, you’ll go without.
Our Recommendation on Learning Programs
The steps we recommend for learning anything new are to first decide exactly what it is you want to learn, and to what extent. Do you want to be a master, or just learn enough so you don’t feel like an idiot? Next, find a well-reviewed product that is lined up with what you’ve determined you want. Last, get immersed in your learning as if it’s the only thing that’s important to you. Stay with it until you reach your goal.
There are plenty of learning programs that can help you, your task is to pick the one that is right for you and then see it through to the finish!