Hypnosis and Language Learning – Does It Really Work?

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It almost sounds like a dream come true for those of us who would like to become multilingual. Select the language of choice. Find a hypnotist. Attend several sessions, and voilá! You are speaking like a native with full comprehension. While this may sound like some sort of movie plot, can hypnosis really aid in learning a foreign language?

First, let’s take a look at how hypnosis works. Although scientists are still stumped on how it actually happens, Tom Harris of Howstuffworks.coms explains hypnosis as a “trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation, and heightened imagination.” When a subject is in this state, he or she is not really sleeping, but experience more of a feeling similar to day dreaming and not being immediately conscious of surroundings and stimuli.

Suggestions that are given (or even one’s own ideas) by the hypnotist may feel like reality, and the individual tends to focus intently on the subject provided. Ever find yourself ‘lost in a book’ or your mind wanders while in traffic? According to Harris, it’s kind of like that. In this state the individual also drops inhibitions and becomes highly suggestible (although it has been said that a hypnotist can’t get you to do anything you really don’t want to do).

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Although uncertain of the exact mechanism behind hypnosis, scientists have been able to see which areas of the brain are working when a subject is under. It is interesting to note that neuroscientists have detected increased activity in the right hemisphere of the brain during hypnosis. This is the area attributed to imagination, creativity, and artistic ability. However, Gary Schenkel for eHow explains that our ability for language is believed to be facilitated in the left frontal cortex of the brain known as Broca’s Area and the temporal lobe of the brain known as Wernicke’s Area. These two regions work together to form a “language loop,” that enables us to listen to and process language. Over the years, researchers from various institutions have noted some positive results with the use of hypnosis in learning a foreign language such as improved pronunciation, learning, and memory performance.

In preparation for a trip to Spain, Kate Kellaway for the Guardian.com tested a language course that allegedly teaches a learner tourist vocabulary and basic conversation in 150 minutes. As she was fully immersed in the language she found it to be somewhat frustrating at times, although she continued to pick up vocabulary through experience. The main advantage that she had gained from the course was that it made her eager to learn more.

Out of curiosity, I listened to a YouTube video by UltraHypnosis on using hypnosis to learn a new language. While it was general and did not focus on any particular tongue, it repeated the ideas that I would be comfortable, confident, and accepting of the target language.

There is an overabundance of language learning through hypnosis available on websites, CDs, books, and seminars. Keep in mind that there are no official certification process or regulation standards for hypnotists, regardless of claims of being “certified.” Also, one-on-one sessions seem to work better with longer lasting results than the mass hypnosis or the ones on CD’s and tapes.

As with any learning technique, it comes down to the person. Motivation to learn, previous exposure to the language, natural ability, and the brain processes of an individual, will all be factors as to whether or not hypnosis to learn a new language will be successful for you.

Have you ever been hypnotized to learn a new skill? What was your experience?

 

Written by Marlene Martzke for English Classes by Skype

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