There are many emotions you may feel during the long process of learning a language: glee for successfully remembering new words, frustration at not comprehending one or other grammatical structure, or accomplishment for when you are finally able to converse in the language of your choosing, to name but a few. As highly emotional creatures, it’s impossible to occasionally let out feelings get the best of us.
But there is another way you can actually make your emotions work for you during your language learning process. For example, tying specific information to your feelings is a tried and tested way of improving your retention. So, in today’s blog post, you can read about how getting emotional can help you become fluent.
What does science say?
Emotion has a significant effect on your attention. This is why you are much more likely to pay attention to whatever brings about strong feelings and why anger is the new currency of the 21st century. And getting you to concentrate is only the beginning of how your emotions guide you.
The connection between emotionally charged content and better memory is a tried and tested one; it is used quite often by sensationalist media and marketing. This is why you seem to remember horrible catastrophes very well or why lifestyle advertising is the gold standard in commerce.
Of course, the connections linking emotions to memory and learning are much more complex than this but, for now, let’s focus on how to use these associations to your benefit.
What does this have to do with language learning?
The short answer to this question is that, if applied constructively, you can use your emotions to become a better language learner.
For example, we know that a good memory is required to remember new vocabulary words in your target language. Of course, there are several ways you can get better at memorising vocabulary. But one of the best ways to acquire new words is to use mnemonic devices: such as a memory palace. And, surprise-surprise, the best memory palaces are built using emotional content. Much because of the reasons stated above. And not only will this technique help you remember vocabulary, you might even become a happier person altogether (granted you fill your memory palace with positive content).
How to use your emotions to learn a language?
As the memory palace example shows, tying new information to existing emotional content can significantly improve your recollection. The way to put that into practice is to always tie new vocabulary to something you have an emotional reaction to. For example, if you’re attempting to learn words related to weather, you can imagine yourself during a hot summer’s day to learn the “warm” words and in cold climate for anything “winter”-related. Using your imagination to create extra context for your brain will help you retain the words farther down the line.
But there is another way emotions can prove exceedingly useful in language learning: as a motivating factor. Keeping yourself motivated is one of the most important factors in language learning success. In fact, this is why it’s often said that there are no difficult languages – because so much of your experience comes down to your own internal drive. And emotions can be very important in this. Both negative and positive feelings can and will impact your motivation. So it’s very important to keep feeding yourself positive emotions in order to keep moving forward.
Emotions are intricately linked to our attention, memory, and even motivation. Understanding these connections can help you make use of your own feelings to become a better language learner. For example, you can tie new information to existing memories and feelings or use imagination to create an emotional context. This will enable you to retain information much more successfully. It’s also important to keep a positive outlook on the whole language learning process in order to stay motivated.