Language Workout

Learning Languages while Exercising – Total Body Language Workout

Language Workout

Do you fidget in a class or at the office? You may be a “kinetic” personality and learner. Basically this means that you find it hard to sit still. You are not A.D.D. as many are rumored to be when they find it hard to sit still for long periods of time. Who knows? You may be a dancer deep inside.

Some of us find that our best ideas and creative problem solving happen while walking or jogging. Is that you too? Others, simply can’t find enough time to get everything done AND take care of their exercise needs. Do you need to find some time for your language learning practice? What if we multi-tasked? As it turns out, multi-tasking while walking or exercising actually enhances our memory! How cool is that? I have told myself 100 times that I must do more exercising but how to find the time? What if I could not only do two things at once, but also improve my learning by combining the two?

So, if you’d like more creative ideas and a better memory, consider exercising while thinking or studying. Researchers in Germany discovered that the memory performance of both young children and adults improved when they were walking compared to when they were sitting. Whether it’s the increase in blood circulation or the rhythmic movement of the legs, walking helps our brain work better.

In one of my most popular classes, Karaoke English, we teach skills to apply while using American songs for improving spoken English. A key technique that we employ is TPR (Total Physical Response) where you would pantomime actions to words wherever possible. This new finding is particularly interesting for me because it indicates that even dancing while singing (or speaking) with the song can enhance the learning process. I personally believe that we are a composite being, body-mind-spirit. Whenever possible we should engage our learning in all three aspects of ourselves.

The British Psychological Society published a short digest of the research. Then decide for yourself if multi-tasking your language learning is something for you too. Oh, I love this idea… “Dance your way to fluency”.

The entire research is available via Taylor & Francis Online.

Picture by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

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George Machlan is a columnist and ESL editor at Fair Languages. He is a "self-appointed" English coach at My ESL Friends, does not adhere to any traditional form of instruction and is purposely anti-authoritarian in teaching styles. While not creative he is a master innovator and has brought much of current science in how the brain learns to his own method called “Karaoke English”. You can follow George on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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