What can IKEA teach you about languages?

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Better said, what can your approach to IKEA’s instruction manuals teach you about how you should approach studying a language?

Generalising (and exaggerating) a bit, there are two kinds of people when it comes to putting together a piece of furniture from IKEA: 

  • those who start combining pieces without even realising that the leaflet that comes in the box is an instruction manual; 
  • and those who spread all the little screws and bits in front of them, categorise them and count them, then read the whole instruction manual before starting.

Whichever you are, don’t worry: you are doing nothing wrong! If there is one thing that we never get tired of repeating, it is that for everything related to learning, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Your approach to IKEA’s furniture, which probably is similar to your approach to jigsaw puzzles, is representative of one of two cognitive styles: Systematic and Intuitive.

ikea instruction manual detail

According to which one characterises you most, you might find yourself trying to organise information and to give it a general structure before dwelling on details, or you might just follow the flow and fill in the blanks on the go.

When you approach the study of a language, it is fundamental to know which one is your cognitive style. It might be what makes the difference between actually learning that language, or not.

Should you dive deep into grammar rules and lists of vocabulary, or should you pack your bags and spend a month abroad? 

If you think about it, entire school systems are based on one approach or another, and one should really celebrate and commend schools that favor a mixed approach. 

Is there, though, an approach that is better or more effective?

For you, yes. 

In general, on the other side, no. 

At Genius in 21 Days, we work with you to understand your cognitive profile, implement strategies to exploit it best and help you to integrate the best of your cognitive styles into your approach.

Every style has strengths and weaknesses. So, the best, general strategy (to be calibrated according to your preferences, for maximum effectiveness) is to try mixing different styles.

Watch the video to find out more about the two styles and to get some tips that can help you improve your learning method.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive more tips on how to excel at work, exams, and languages!


PS: have you already read our article on the Global and Analytic cognitive styles?

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I started the course with a great deal of doubt, and this is probably one of the greatest things I learned from the course. That doubt was one of the main things holding me back. The course is an amazing eye-opener to the sheer volume of information you can learn and is also a demonstration to how easy it is for you and everyone else, by what you learn to do over the first weekend. After the course my reading speed increased by 4 times, I am now able to communicate in Spanish and I am using mind maps to prepare a quite difficult exam. I now know that I can learn a language quickly, increase my reading speed and have valuable techniques for exams and memory, all it takes now is consistency and practice which is really the true challenge.