Nowadays, many will have heard of mindfulness meditation, but did you know that it also helps foreign language learning as well as improve one’s well-being? Mindfulness practices, such as meditation have been shown to have a variety of benefits when incorporated into educational settings. These practices can help students to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and increase self-awareness and emotional regulation.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is achieved through meditation by bringing awareness to the present moment without judgement. Mindfulness also help you to become aware of negative self-talk that can interfere with language learning, putting you in a more resourceful state to respond to the challenges that learning a language brings.
Mindfulness and foreign language learning
There are various case studies demonstrating the positive impact of practicing mindfulness when learning a new language. Foreign language studies can be a challenging experience and it is essential to remember that these challenges, whilst frustrating, are entirely normal. Many people will fear negative feedback and are overly concerned with how they are perceived, impacting both their confidence and motivation.
When feeling anxious mindfulness allows us to take a step back, critically look at the situation, and not let emotions negatively affect us too much in the moment. Mindfulness helps us understand that situations are not as bad as we think and that we don’t have to react to or believe everything we think. Through mindfulness it is easier to identify a thought, accept it and let it go without affecting us as much.
Mindfulness helps to cope with these challenges by allowing individuals to take a step back, critically examine the situation, and not let emotions negatively affect them. By viewing the challenges more calmly, we also allow ourselves the opportunity to practice helpful coping mechanisms to better respond the challenges. Researchers and practitioners have explored different ways of incorporating meditation into learning a foreign language. Studies have shown that incorporating meditation into foreign language learning can have a positive impact on academic achievement and aggression management among pupils.
An example of this is a study conducted by Wang and Liu (2016) which used a three-month practice of meditation/mindfulness in a foreign language classroom for native Chinese speakers learning English.
Mr. Liu, led mindfulness sessions at least once a week before or during a class activity. After the meditation session, it would later follow freewriting (where students are encouraged to write down whatever comes to mind). The outcome of freewriting is to have a positive impact on mindfulness, especially when the meditation section is concluded after a reading comprehension activity. Mr. Liu found that his students understood the text more deeply after meditating; they could form their own opinions and know the facts of the texts provided to them. Another thing implicated in the study was how the teacher created a relaxing atmosphere before the lesson which helped deliver a more conducive learning environment.
The outcome of this study was that the students had a deeper understanding of the text, were more engaged in group discussions, their focus was improved and they were able to think more independently.
Incorporating the Practice of Mindfulness in an Innovative Program
As you can see, practicing mindfulness can greatly enhance the language learning experience by promoting focus, relaxation and awareness of thoughts. Our innovative digital Italian learning experience incorporates mindfulness as a supportive tool to improve the overall learning experience and accelerate the learning process. The program uses authentic, real-life materials and provides the opportunity to learn Italian at one’s own pace, while also building confidence and ownership of the learning process.
We teach you in a fun and engaging way how to speak Italian confidently. The Mindful Italian Experience is a digital course designed by us to:
- Increase your confidence and motivation
- Reduce your fear of speaking Italian
- Help you manage your inner critic
- Accelerate learning by developing greater focus and concentration
- Learn Italian in context through games and role plays
- Learn in a concise and structured way
- Be part of a supportive and engaging online community so you can practice your Italian free of judgement
- Give you the flexibility to learn at your own pace
- Strengthen learning with structured workbooks
- Connect with the Italian culture, through insights and cultural tips
- Plus the many other incredible benefits that mindfulness brings
You will get access to:
- 21 fun and engaging lessons
- A set of workbooks to consolidate your learning
- Mindful meditations to help you at those key points in your learning journey
The Mindful Italian Experience is backed by evidence-based research articles.
Be part of is shaping the future of language learning! Try your first lesson by clicking on this link https://www.languagesalive.com/downloads/the-mindful-italian-experience/
The benefits of mindfulness and its positive impact on foreign language learning are undeniable. By incorporating mindfulness into a language learning program, it can make the experience more enjoyable, build coping mechanisms and support learning throughout life.
Written by Gabija Balsyte, Intern at Languages Alive (Summer 2021). Edited by Nicole Magnier & Raffaella Palumbo
Fallah, N. (2017). Mindfulness, coping self-efficacy and foreign language anxiety: a mediation analysis. Educational Psychology. 37(6): 745-756.
Wang, Y., Liu, C. (2016). Cultivate Mindfulness: A Case Study of Mindful Learning in an English as a Foreign Language Classroom. The IAFOR Journal of Education. 4(2).
Zeilhofer, L. (2020) ‘Mindfulness in the foreign language classroom: Influence on academic achievement and awareness’, Language Teaching Research.