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Can Lucid dreaming help someone learn English?

There has been a spike of interest in the media lately around lucid dreaming and the different benefits it can bring. The scientific and medical community in particular have started to take notice of lucid dreaming and the ways in which it could support our health and development. This article will look at what some of the latest research has revealed and how these findings could be put to use in order to help someone learn a second language.

A word for the sceptics

While many people are understandably quite sceptical about how lucid dreaming could have an impact, some of the latest scientific research has proven that practicing certain skills during a lucid dream does actually result in real life improvements.

The key take away however, is that while practicing certain skills during lucid dreaming does indeed have an impact on our waking ability, the impact is always going to be much smaller than that of real life of practice. So while it can help, this is only of a supplementary nature.

An extra opportunity for practice

Many would agree that learning a language is a big undertaking that takes time, patience and perseverance. Sometimes it can feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to take on another long term commitment, so the thought of being able to harness sleep to improve your second language acquisition seems very appealing!

What is a lucid dream?

In short, lucid dreaming refers to the ability to become consciously aware during a dream, and therefore control what happens in the dream. For most people, this occurs spontaneously, but it is possible to self-induce a lucid dream if you are keen to experience it for yourself.

What does the research say?

Research has so far proven that practicing motor skills while lucid dreaming can result in a real-life improvement in that skill. A team of researchers monitored the activity of the neural mechanisms in the brain responsible for movement, by placing participant’s in a brain scanner. The results showed that the activity in those parts of the brain during lucid dreaming were strikingly similar to that of imagined movement and real-life movement. This finding is sufficient to show that motor learning had taken place.

Lucid dreaming and language learning

So how can this aid second language acquisition? Well, writing in a new language involves the development of a new motor skill, particularly if the second language uses a writing system that it is entirely different from someone’s native language. The research substantiates that practicing any new motor skill while lucid dreaming, and writing is a good example of this as it involves both fine and gross motor skills, will result in real life improvements.

Improving your spoken fluency

In theory, it is also possible to improve your spoken fluency in a second language while dreaming. It is quite common for people to start dreaming in their second language once they have become immersed in it, which is always an exciting experience the first time it happens!

This is your brains way of testing out different scenarios and actively applying what you have learnt, and the best way to build fluency in a language is to actively practice it and make mistakes. Given that a lucid dream affords someone the ability to control what happens, this creates more freedom to test out different contexts and apply and practice newly learnt grammar rules. Memory and recall is also improved as a result of a lucid dream, more so than a normal dream. So it would follow that speaking practice during a lucid dream could help contribute towards building spoken fluency.

Written by Jane Dunn for EnglishClub September 2019
Jane Dunn is a freelance writer and editor having previously spent time teaching English in Japan.

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