Weird one: I can't remember dates from audiobooks and podcasts

I’m a history buff, and I’m currently listening to Winston Churchill’s rather colourful biography on his most famous antecedent, John Churchill, the Duke of Marborough.
Great book, though he does spend quite a bit of time (figuratively) yelling at historians I’ve never heard of. Presumably they were quite important figures 90 years ago, but it gets a bit annoying today.

Anyway, while I was walking to school today I realized I’d completely misunderstood quite a bit of the previous section (about whether James II actually wrote a diary after leaving England or not - Churchill categorically denies it, and uses that fact to discard a lot of allegations other historians have made about Churchill. Look… I like it, ok? Just let me be!) because I kept misunderstanding or not listening properly to the dates, so whenever he jumped from something that happened in Churchills lifetime, to when some other historian made a discovery or wrote something some amount of years later, I lost track.

This got me thinking, and I actually always have problems remembering dates that I hear, but never dates I read. Somehow I guess I think about dates textually or something?
I’ve tried googling this, but I can’t find anything about this.

Does anyone have any ideas about how I can work around this without carrying around pen and paper while walking the dog and writing down all of the dates so I can read them?

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“Hey Siri”, “Take a Note”, “Magna Carta created 1215”

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I just tried googling “hearing vs reading for comprehension” and got a lot of relevant hits. Not what you were looking for?

Gonna be a lot of notes, but yeah - that’ll work!

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No, I didn’t know the word comprehension. English is my third language.


Wishing my second and third languages were as good as yours :slight_smile:

One of my hobbies is Duolingo. I realized after a while it was not going as well as my high school languages. The reason being, in high school we had to do written exercises and keep vocabulary notebooks. Writing is a part of the learning process and may be more or less important depending on your learning style. I for one do not trust my ears and need to see how a word is spelled in its language before I can grasp it.

So it may be worth finding a way to handwrite some of the information you want to memorise.

Do you remember other actual facts from audio? Or just broad ideas?

Could it be that you’re less focused when listening to audio because you’re doing something else at the time (like walking)?

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For such notes I would recommend you read the books and use Readwise [No affiliation to Readwise] to highlight your notes. You can then make your own PKM from that and create links between the notes connecting your history research.

I love history and try not to let numbers bog me down. I have a hard time retaining numbers myself. I am a visual learner primarily although I have a good ear.

Numbers have always given me problems. They are too abstract. Don’t try to remember all of them or even most. Go for gist. You can round them out. They are much easier to remember like that.

Do you speak a foreign language perchance? I find if I say a number or date aloud and in Spanish I am far more likely to remember it. (You could do it in English too.) You might want to scan the chapter ahead of time in order to give you a frame of reference.

Also let’s say I put the book down and then pick it up at a later date. I usually do not feel like rereading so I like to go back and read the first full sentence on each page in order to jar my memory. Without getting too bogged down, try reviewing a bit. It can come out smoother in the long run.

You could repeat a few important dates into a tape recorder (besides the one you are listening to…) with a short explanation.

You are apparently catching at least some of your errors. And that’s quite good.

You can skim ahead of time or return and review a bit without getting bogged down. Try not to make it so involved that you will be unlikely to do it.

If you have an Apple Pencil you might want to jot the note out so that would involve your sense of touch.

Yes - kinesthetic learning is a very, very real thing. :slight_smile: The more senses you involve in the learning process, the higher the odds you’ll remember something.

Although I remember one of the “Evernote ambassadors” writing an article a decade or so ago about how it was totally BS that hand-writing notes improved memory, and how everybody should just stop being stupid and use Evernote instead. :smiley:

That Evernote ambassador is just plain wrong, right?

The Apple Pencil is such a cool device. It has certainly “taken off”. I love using it. I always just enjoyed the very act of writing, not to mention doodling, artwork, notes, photography. Also it fosters creativity which encourages “flow”.

I managed to get all the way through my undergrad degree without ever having to type a paper. I begged. My typing was atrocious.

“I have beautiful handwriting!”

“Just so long as I can read it.”

One of my friends has a son in kindergarten. They are teaching him how to keyboard which is fine and dandy but they really need to use the Chromebook focus more as enrichment while the kids learn their printing skills.

It is quite important for them as they are developing both fine and gross motor skills. When they do not get those skills, it impedes their development in other areas like reading, even creativity.

The kids need to be singing, dancing, coloring, painting- all that fun stuff! Instead they are doing phonics for most of the day which can sap the joy out of reading. (Unlike Spanish, English phonics is a mess).

And how could use of the Apple Pencil not improve the memory?

I taught with a number of teachers who wouldn’t let the kids count on their fingers. I still count of my fingers! It helps me concentrate. Sooner or later it dawns on them that 3+4 is always going to equal 7!I Couldn’t figure out why tapping out the numbers was preventing computation. And they are far more likely to get the correct answer. They readily learned it. I could not believe how fast some of them could do their math! I’d even race them!

Yeah. There was some pretty heavy online backlash, although I just discovered that the article is apparently still up - Dear Colleague, Put the Notebook Down

The dripping condescension still boggles my brain.

Yeah, English is a mess because we - quite literally - stole words from a dozen incompatible languages.

From James Nicoll:

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

That all said, at least they’re actually teaching phonics rather than the alternative - just making kids memorize ever-increasing lists of vocabulary words. :slight_smile:

I’m a mixed bag on the “don’t use your hands” thing, just like I’m a mixed bag on overt vocalization and subvocalization for reading. It does slow you down. There’s absolutely no question of that. But at some point it’s worth asking if speed is actually the goal. And I tend to think that speed needs to come after accuracy. If somebody is still struggling with accuracy, that’s what they need help with. If, on the other hand, they’re fine with accuracy - and just lack confidence - sometimes it’s worth a little push to encourage them to try it without the hands or vocalization

I actually learned how to count to 100 on my fingers about a decade ago. I’ve used it surprisingly often as it can be done mindlessly (counting jogging steps, jumping jacks, etc.) while listening to music that might otherwise cause me to lose count. The same sorts of applications that would otherwise involve making a tick mark on a piece of paper.

And it’s fun to point out to people that you can theoretically count to 2048 on your fingers if you understand how base 2 numbers work. :slight_smile:

Exactly. The hard lines we’ve drawn between all the school subjects are boundaries of convenience, not anything supported by the nature of reality. It all bleeds together.

Oh, sure. I think it has to do with my brain going “oh, wait… january first, that’s first of january in my language. Wait, what year? Damnit, I was busy converting… Oh well, moving on…”
The word comprehension is actually perfect.

To be fair, these dates arent going to come up on an exam. I’m a forty year old IT consultant, so those only happen in my nightmares. It’s just annoying.

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EXTREMELY condescending!!! She knows it all, doesn’t she? egads. I can understand why that stuck with you. I would just love to pull out my trusty Apple Pencil and proceed to initiate what really helps me to be productive, to concentrate!!! Doodling. Dang it.

She neglected to cite her sources. LOL!

You are so right: English is a verifiable mess! They’ve done actual studies on it… If left to their own devices, most kids teach themselves how to read!

But instead they determine readability by inspiring stuff like counting syllables! Kids have to read on their grade level. Balderdash.

I was in fourth grade when I read John Hershey’s “Hiroshima”.

At one point I had the most boring teaching position I ever had- Reading Specialist. It should have been a cushy job. Blech. Boring.

Inserviced galore. I wanted to grab the lapels of any one of these specialists because I was so very curious to know the details- “What was the last book you read?” And how many years ago. Probably the last book they picked up was “The Godfather”.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think Phonics has its place- in moderation, so they can fall back on it if they see a new word. Just don’t beat a perfectly good story to death. ANYTHING but that.

I visited my niece and nephew living in St. Louis. Maggie told her horrified aunt.

“I HATE READING”! She was about 7. So I took her shopping. Pick out any book you want. My treat.


So I picked out a collection of fairy tales. That sweet young lady plopped herself down on the floor by the shelves at Target and proceeded to read. She couldn’t stop. I practically had to drag her out of the store.

Kids read for the same reason you or I read- for enjoyment, to learn. Rocket science it ain’t!

Reading aloud? Well, if I am trying to concentrate that is what I may resort to when I read Spanish. Especially when I start a passage, after a certain point my eyes are faster. Very useful skill. Comprehension is the true goal.

Base 2! That’s wild!

Nah. It just underscores it. Hey it helps me.

It serves to help me concentrate. The English for me will go in one ear and out the other. So at times I find I have to stop, think a lil and translate it. Also I hear it.

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There‘s a service/podcast app called Airr which let‘s you save „AirrQuotes“, which will even be automatically transcribed for you. (At least in English.)

That way, you could maybe create a list with all relevant dates (plus some noise), which you could afterwards summarize with pen & paper, or digitally, to better remember it.

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