Music, meditation and martial arts aid Spanish learning

8th June 2012 at 01:00

First came 30 minutes of yoga, then 15 minutes of "energy tapping", designed to remove clutter from our brains and release the energy that would help us to learn. In the afternoon we were singing, expanding our minds with whole-brain exercises and tackling the rigours of martial arts.

Some people might consider this an unusual way to speed-learn Spanish. But at the end of the two-day course I had digested an enormous amount of the GCSE MFL curriculum. The brainchild of Tanya Moore, a former English and drama teacher with a passion for languages, the course combines accelerated learning techniques with whole-brain learning and memory games and intersperses lessons with creative activities. The idea is that the brain will absorb many of the words and phrases subconsciously, and that if the body and mind are stimulated, yet in a state of calm, learning the new language will be a great deal easier.

As a former teacher of French and German planning to move with my family to live in a Spanish-speaking area, I was intrigued, especially given that for 10 years I specialised in teaching children on the verge of exclusion and those who were challenged by traditional methods of teaching.

After learning to breathe to slow the heart rate (studies show that this aids learning); completing physical exercises to ensure that both sides of the brain were working together; and being encouraged to disengage my conscious mind while glancing at Spanish words and phrases; and "playing with the language" in creative conversations (while classical music played in the background), the amount of language I absorbed was quite staggering.

At the end of two days, like the other 12 adults on the course, I was exhausted but exhilarated by the role play and language games. I had also learned an incredible amount of Spanish; not only colours, numbers, days of the week, conversational phrases, and foods, but how to ask directions, book a hotel room and how to tell people, in Spanish, about myself, where I lived and what I did - even the sorts of things I enjoy doing on holiday.

There is a 21-day follow-up programme to cement the learning. But although I didn't take it, I found the language stuck. It's an incredible resource for teachers and learners to pick up new techniques - and could easily benefit teaching in other subjects.

Tanya Moore can be contacted through her website, tanyamoore.co.uk. Courses in various languages take place monthly at venues in London and Bristol. Other subjects and locations are available upon request, subject to demand

What else?

Get pupils speaking about sports in Spanish with a presentation from Lauramac79.

With Leepy's interactive PowerPoint presentation, pupils can listen to and give opinions on traditional Spanish music.

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