Subliminal Language Learning. Fact or Myth ?

Travelling enthusiasts have always had special linguistic curiosities. How often have you wanted to learn more about a certain language during a cruise or trip towards an exotic place? Some people say that the simplest way to learn the basics of a language is to interact with the natives. While that is true, wouldn’t it be great if we could learn a language by simply diving among its speakers, without any conscious effort from our side?

What is subliminal learning?

Generally speaking, subliminal learning means learning the complex rules of a foreign language without actively pursuing it. This process is displayed best and most often in children, who can learn the basics of multiple languages easily and without having any idea of concepts like grammar or pronunciation.

In the case of an adult who wants to learn a language, this process is usually more complicated and success is not guaranteed. The general question still remain, though – are adults still capable of subliminal learning?

Learning while sleeping

One of the most popular ideas behind subliminal learning techniques is learning in your sleep. The idea is to fall asleep with headphones in your ears in which you constantly hear phrases of a language, but not loud enough that they actually interfere with your sleep.

Although this technique does not work for learning a language at a fluent level, those who have also participated in active learning throughout the day have discovered that night-time repetitions help them remember words better.

This approach was subject to extensive testing, which has proven that the technique is useful for remembering phrases and words. Groups of students who have slept for a few hours with headphones in their ears have performed much better in testing that those who did not do this exercise.

Learning a foreign language without conscious effort is possible – although only up to a certain level, at least while using the technologies and methods available at this time. Adults should also actively participate in the learning process in order to follow up on grammar and vocabulary lessons from during the night. Studies have shown that nocturnal repetitions can greatly aid in refining your knowledge and are very recommended. So, if you want to learn a new language while traveling, focus on active learning during the day and let your subconscious help you during the night.