How understanding the connection between your brain and body will help you improve your French

It will help you in 3 ways at least.

#1: At any moment, bring the tension down

Speaking a foreign language is stressful so it’s important to practice some techniques to be able to bring the tension down and not let your emotions take control. When you start to feel the panic rise, it’s comforting to know you have at least 2 or 3 techniques up your sleeve to make it go away. And if the techniques require nothing but your own body (like breathing and visualisation), you know you can apply them wherever and whenever you need.

Read also: 3 ways to lower your stress

#2: Bring back focus to your conscious brain

Once your mind is cleared of that stress-generated fog, your conscious brain can stay in control of things and learn efficiently. Whatever it’s confronted with will be analysed, sorted out and stored in your memory.

Your conscious thinking brain is the pre-frontal cortex which is located at the front of your brain. At the back is the amygdala, the reptilian brain, this is the one you want to calm down using stress-releasing methods.

Your thinking brain can’t go on at full speed for a very long time. Studies have shown it can maintain its maximum capacity for up to 40 minutes, sometimes less. If you constantly listen to your body and your brain, you’ll know when to take breaks. Rest time is important for memory consolidation (I’ll come back to that in another post).

The Pomodoro method is usually very effective: 25 to 40 minutes undisturbed focus time periods alternating with 5 minutes breaks to stretch your legs. Take longer breaks (at least 20 minutes) after about 2 hours.

#3: Use muscle memory

Muscles have a memory too which you can use in 2 ways:- associate a movement to a word to reinforce vocabulary acquisition– read aloud for the muscles of your mouth, jaw, tongue, throat to remember the patterns of your target language.

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