Un-Study Techniques: Say it, Scream it, Sing it


This is the fifth post in our series about “un-study techniques” for use in wine and spirits studies.  Click here to see our other posts about un-study techniques.

An un-study technique is something you can do to help you learn about wine—in those times and situations when you are tired, unmotivated, or just plain sick of studying. We’ve all been there.

If you just can’t stand to study….perhaps you won’t mind a bit of talking? Grab one page of notes or a short stack of flashcards—this is a great time to go straight for the information you can never seem to recall or understand. Just make sure to keep your material to a minimum so there’s no chance of overwhelming yourself.

Once you have your notes, read them out loud. When I do this I like to go all-in. Stand up straight, say it loud, say it proud, repeat it three times directly into the (fake) microphone. Then do it again. Say it, scream it, or sing it until you have it memorized. Then paraphrase it and say it again. Elaborate on it a bit—what else do you know about this topic?

Keep going. Repeat it ten times. Do it with a glass of wine or a shot of Bourbon and it gets fun and silly…and it’s very, very effective.


Here’s why:

In the vocabulary of memory science, there’s something called the “production effect.” To put it simply, the production effect relates to the fact that a person will remember something that they said (even if it is a random string of words or sounds) much more than something that they read (silently) or something they heard someone else say.

I am inclined to think that this is likely to do with the fact that we like to hear ourselves talk (ahem), but the experts will tell us it is more than that—and the research that proves it is impressive. In a study reported by Psychology Today (as provided by Dr. W. R. Klemm) students who read a list of 160 items silently were able to recognize about 64% of them two weeks later…and the students who read them aloud were able to recall 77%. That’s worth speaking up for.

One explanation for the production effect is distinctiveness—something that is read, spoken, and heard is more distinctive (and therefore more memorable) than words that are “just” read silently. The literature describes this as such: “the additional dimensions of encoding for items read aloud can be subsequently used during retrieval” (Icht, Mama, and Algom, 2014). In other words, it helps us remember.


Another reason this works is that it involves multiple senses (hearing and seeing) as well as motor activities (speaking). This fits in with the meaning of “production” – in the sense that you “produce something” when you use information rather than just reading it or hearing it. While it might be nice if the “production” created was a cupcake rather than a sound, a sound will do for purposes of your hungry-for-wine-knowledge long-term memory.

In addition to all of the scientific explanations, there is another, simpler one: we are seldom more engaged as when we are hearing ourselves talk.

So, the next time a day (or night) rolls around and you “just can’t stand to study,” well, don’t study. Instead, grab a small section of your notes, and talk it out.

References/for more information on the production effect:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

3 Responses to Un-Study Techniques: Say it, Scream it, Sing it

  1. Edward Lohmann says:

    Great suggestions 🍷🏟🏟

  2. Pingback: Use it or Lose It: Active Recall (for wine and spirits students) | The Bubbly Professor

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