Movement Makes Learning New Languages Easier

According to researchers Manuela Macedonia and Thomas Knösche at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, performing motions while learning new words in another language, makes those words easier to recall from memory later on.

The researchers created an artificial language and taught half of its material using conventional methods, i.e. sitting at a desk without much movement. They then taught more material to the students and asked them to ask out certain words and phrases as they learned them. For example, participants learning the word for 'throw' would perform a throwing motion as they repeated the word aloud.

Material taught with accompanying movements was more easily recalled later by students than material taught using standard teaching methods.

Perhaps most surprising, was the discovery that performing movements not only aided in learning words with an obvious accompanying motion like chew or blink, but also helped students recall more physically ambiguous words like 'doubt' or 'unique'.

Based on the results of fMRI scans, the researchers postulated that motion creates a more complex representation of the words in the brain, allowing for faster and more complete recall later on.

Read the whole article at New Scientist.