Daydream your way to learning a new language…

What did Sir Issac Newton and Albert Einstein have in common?

… They were not just great thinkers, they both liked to daydream!

In recent years numerous studies have shown the surprising benefits of daydreaming. Daydreaming can sharpen the mind, increase creativity, boost working memory and cognitive functioning.

Have you ever tried to search your brain for the meaning of a word, it was on the tip of your tongue, but you still felt that you couldn’t reach it? Or have you ever gone to great lengths to create a language learning plan to achieve your goals, but never actually took any steps towards actioning it?

The problem you might be facing could be to do with your own self-limiting beliefs and negative thinking patterns. These beliefs and negative thinking styles are not necessarily fact, but rather a mere opinion on how you view the world around you based on old memories.

“By letting your mind wander, you are stretching new neural pathways in your brain—while at the same time—giving the analytic, task-oriented part of your brain a much needed break” –  John Assaraf

As you daydream, you can explore the more creative, frontal lobe areas of the brain. Creativity can play an important role in out-of-the-box thinking. Contrary to what you may believe, taking time out just to cloud glaze and see the pretty shapes they make or simply having a break from technology can actually increase productivity levels!

What if you applied daydreaming to language learning? Imagining having conversations in your target language. No, I am not saying ditch those language tutorials, but including some daydreaming states, in-between language tutorials and focused study sessions could have some surprising benefits to your learning ability!

Modern scientific studies have now revealed that when asked, people who were given a “daydreaming” exercise in between performing tasks had increased performance in comparison to another group that was required to focus on their tasks without having any time to drift off. Therefore there does appear to be a cognitive benefit for daydreaming.

“Daydreaming and meditation are connected” – 

–  John Assaraf

Daydreaming can help give you the ability to ‘think outside of the box‘ and let go of any self-limiting beliefs or negative thinking habits you may have towards learning new skills.  Allow your imagination and learning ability to grow as you daydream your way to success.

Applying daydreaming to language learning exercise

  • After a study session take 10 minutes out. Begin by taking a few moments to get settled in a comfortable sitting position, close your eyes or just focus on a spot in the room, next take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you feel calmer . . . imagine, in your mind’s eye, that you sitting on a puffy cloud and gently floating up towards the sky.

 

  • Now imagine that you can feel the surface beneath you becoming soft and fluffy; surrounding you with its protective support. See the walls and ceiling around you disappear as you float up . . . drifting on the cloud.

 

  • Next, imagine you are surrounded by people on their own little fluffy clouds that speak the language you are learning. Try to reach out to them and have a conversation in your target language. Really visualize and audiolize yourself in deep conversation with them. What does it feel like? What does it sound like?

 

  • You might imagine you are at a restaurant and ordering some food or shopping for new clothes. Try to picture the signs in your target language. Are they easy or hard to read?

 

  • Allow yourself to daydream on your drifting cloud for as long as you are able to. And when you are ready to return from the journey, drift slowly back down to where you started, open your eyes or take your eyes off the focus point and give yourself a gentle shake.

 

  • Take a few moments to write down your experience. Did you have any realizations? Did you become aware of any goals you might want to set? Did you know more words than you thought?

 

Apply a more diffused and mindful learning style where you let your thoughts drift naturally. . . up in the clouds, and see what happens. Daydreaming can be used in conjunction with The Pomodoro Technique. This is when you study for a set-period such as 20-25 minutes, then take a 10-minute daydreaming break, then focused study for another 20-25 minute study session. By retraining your brain you’ll stop standing on the edge of your language learning potential, and start fulfilling more of what you’re truly capable of achieving.

How did you get on? 

Share in the comments section below or on one of our social media channels how you got on with this practical daydreaming exercise.

Transform your self-limiting beliefs and negative thinking habits today… 

At Language Learners Journal Ltd we are interested in incorporating the latest science into our online coaching sessions, online courses, VIP Membership, and programs.  Build greater self-awareness, release those self-limiting beliefs and negative thinking habits that are keeping you stuck at your current level of success.

Interested in learning more then check out our complete range of services and products. Pick the one that best fit your learning style and needs. Let Language Learners Journal Ltd be your guide to a more productive and successful you!


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3 Simple Language Learning Activities for Mindfulness

Guest Blogger: Elena from Hitoritabi


Practising mindfulness is a powerful way to get better results in language learning.

Ever got frustrated at yourself because you couldn’t focus on a reading exercise for more than 2 minutes?

When you practice mindfulness, your attention span improves. This makes it easier to retain the vocabulary you have learnt and to get better results at listening and reading activities.

And what about the times when you beat yourself up because you’re not learning fast enough, or you’re making too many mistakes? Sometimes you think you’re just not good at this language learning thing and you consider giving up altogether.

Before you get that far, give mindfulness a chance…

It will help you become kinder to yourself, more accepting of the mistakes you’re bound to make during the learning process. It gets easier to let go of your perfectionism, that too often gets in the way of your progress.

You’ll finally give yourself permission to take a break when you need it. Because let’s say it, pushing yourself too hard would only bring you to a crisis in your language learning, eventually.

You won’t persist in the damaging habit of comparing yourself to others and harshly judging your weaknesses. Quite the opposite: you’ll be more productive and you’ll even find new fire for your creativity.

And what about those days when doing anything is hard because anxiety crawls up to grab you?

Well, mindfulness also increases your ability to manage stress and gives you better control over your negative emotions. Training your mind to focus on the present moment will relieve your anxiety greatly.

This said it’s clear how taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness every day can be a breeze of fresh air in your studies.

But have you ever thought about making language learning itself into a mindfulness practice?

Performing a repetitive, day-to-day activity can become a way to practice being focused on the present moment.

Simple actions, just like colouring or knitting, can be an anchor for you to avoid getting carried away by distracting thoughts. At the same time, they’re not so energy-consuming to leave you drained. As a result, they are perfect to relax your brain.

The following activities are good because…

You won’t use any app or electronic device.

Being constantly connected reduces our attention span, making it more difficult to focus. While practising on our electronic devices, we often get distracted by a notification, or we feel a sudden need to check our mail. For a mindful study session, go back to good old pen and paper.

You’ll write by hand.

Writing by hand appears to improve your memory. Using pen and paper, instead of a keyboard, helps you recall and understand concepts better. Moreover, the action of moving your hand on the page can be a relaxing and therapeutic action in itself.

You focus on a simple task.

Some language learning activities require you to put a lot of effort into them, to understand new words or complicated concepts. While these activities are important, they can leave your brain exhausted and are not the most appropriate to practice mindfulness.

3 language learning activities for mindfulness

Sort your notes and colour-code your notebook

A lot of the time, I jot down words and ideas on my language notebook as soon as possible, not to forget them. So my notes are all mixed up: vocabulary with grammar, exercises and writing practice in between rules and idioms.

From time to time, I like to take my coloured pens and to order topics by colour: I draw green frames around grammar rules, little pink circles next to idioms, yellow lines for vocabulary.

When starting a new notebook, then, it’s time to review. I re-write the topics I’m still unsure about in the new one, leave the things I know well and the exercises in the old one.

Practising writing a different script

Though some learners argue that learning how to write a different script by hand is useless nowadays, I tend to disagree.

First, as mentioned earlier, writing by hand helps you remember information better. In the case of a different script, you learn it with the muscles of your hand through repetition. This way, even after a break from studies you’ll still be able to write the characters almost automatically.

And of course, like lettering and colouring, it has an anti-stress effect. You could start a learning session with 5 minutes of this activity, to relax before moving on to more challenging tasks.

Grammar exercises

While grammar explanations can sometimes be hard to grasp, grammar exercises are often based on repetition of a pattern or rule over and over, to help you assimilate it.

This much-neglected task has everything you need to stay present and leave the thoughts that don’t serve you outside. You have to stay focused, to remember the rule and try to apply it correctly. At the same time, you don’t need to understand anything new and your brain won’t be overwhelmed by new stimuli.

There’s nothing like tense drills to empty your head and calm down an overworking mind!

Have you ever thought of any language learning activity as therapeutic? What is the one that calms you the most? Leave a comment and let me know!


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Guest Blogger: Elena

I’m Elena Gabrielli, introvert, grammar geek and proud Ravenclaw. I help introverts and other quiet learners to keep anxiety out of language learning.

Come say “Hi” on  Hitoritabi.it,   twitter.com/hitoritabi_lang or join me at The quiet language learners’ nest Facebook group.


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10 Simple Tips for Mindful Language Learning

I am going, to be honest with you language learning is hard work! It takes consistency, perseverance, time and dedication to learning a new language. However, the good news is there are lots of awesome techniques in which to help you achieve your language learning goals. One of the most beneficial techniques for me is learning new things mindfully, and that is going to be the focus of this post.

Mindfulness, in a nutshell, is defined as:

“Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” – Marlatt & Kristeller, (1999)

Mindfulness can powerfully enhance performance; indeed many successful people use it, such as athletes, entrepreneurs, actors, and musicians.  If you are learning something new, you want to listen mindfully, you want to practice mindfully, You want visual stimulus, you want to absorb the new information and the new skills as efficiently as possible. Mindfulness can be used to enhance your performance as a language learner. Just 10-20 minutes language learning a day using mindfulness can make you more productive than 40 minutes unfocused language learning using gadgets.

My Brand New Online Course: ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Learning‘ – Enrol now for 67% OFF!

Language acquisition is about the memorization of words and grammar rules. If you can start by memorizing keywords that you need to know, you are already half-way there. Mindfulness is well-known for its ability to help you retain new information. When I was learning French at school I found it really hard to remember the vocabulary I was learning. since being more mindful I have found this process a lot easier.  Studies have shown that you need to see a fact several times before you can remember it.  However, mindfulness speeds up this process so you can remember it without having to be exposed to it several times.

In addition to improving your memory, mindfulness can help you to focus for longer periods of time too. You can’t just focus for a few minutes a day when learning a new language. It would take years just to reach a basic conversational level. If you plan to succeed, you need to study regularly for at least 30 – 45 minutes per day. The problem is; the average concentration time is decreasing rapidly. Some studies have shown that younger generations can only focus for 8-9 seconds. Yes, our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish!

Here are my top 10 tips for mindful language learning:

1. Shut it down or turn it off… 

In a world full of gadgets, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, cat videos, fidget spinners… distractions are everywhere! Before studying turn off all distractions. Multi-tasking is the ability to perform lots of tasks at the same time. Some people even list this as a skill on their CV. However, in reality, this isn’t healthy for us and we are actually more efficient when we focus on just one thing at a time.

2. Just Breath

Take a few deep breaths, now focus your attention on your breath. If you have any distracting thoughts don’t try to judge or control them. Bring your attention back to your breath. It takes practice. It’s important to get those deeper breaths and enable more oxygen to your brain.

3. Strech it out

Just about to have a Skype tutorial? Take a few moments to stretch out. Release any anxieties you may have by touching your toes or just swinging your arms about your waist. This will allow for a better flow before you start your language study.

4. Keep Going and don’t judge

Don’t worry about getting things wrong. Stay in a state of non-judgment of yourself.

5. Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself. As any beginner knows, it is only through our mistakes that we truly learn.  Stay in the moment and treat yourself with respect and care you deserve. Remember Rome was not built in a day.

6. Let go of mistakes

It’s okay to make mistakes. Notice them, and learn from them, but do not judge yourself harshly.

7. Be more self-aware

Be aware of the progress you are making, but without judgment or comparison with other learners.

8. Use your Senses to regain focus

Use all of your senses in language learning and fully immerse yourself in the culture.

9. Smile

Studies have shown that the act of smiling can bring on authentic feelings of well-being and reduce stress levels.

10. Notice a wandering mind

If you notice your mind keeps wondering, acknowledge and label the distracting thoughts. for example ‘worrying‘, ‘planning’. ‘judging‘. It’s up to you to either act upon that thought and become distracted or let it go and focus.

Remember Mindfulness takes practice, but with consistency, you will be able to maintain your focus for longer, learn vocabulary faster and enhance your listening skills. This means you will vastly improve your ability to learn a new language.

References:

[1] Marlatt, G.,& Kristeller, J.L. (1999). Mindfulness and Meditation. Miller (Ed.), Integrating spirituality into treatment (pp. 67–84). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

[2] http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

[3a] https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-psychological-study-of-smiling#.WR4V7dy1uM8

[3b] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/simply-smiling-can-actually-reduce-stress-10461286/

[4] https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-165912649/mindful-learning-and-second-language-acquisition


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