It’s natural to look for an easy way out when learning a new skill. If there was a way to learn a new language without really trying, we would be all over it. But determining how much value you can get out of “alternative” language-learning methods isn’t simple.
Can ASMR, hypnosis, healing crystals or learning in your sleep effectively improve your ability to master a language? In this episode of the podcast, senior producer Dylan Lyons is joined by executive producer Jen Jordan, senior producer Steph Koyfman and producer Thomas Moore Devlin to discuss (and even sample) some of these unconventional techniques.
Multilinguish: Can Alternative Language-Learning Methods Actually Work?
Next, we hear from clinical hypnotherapist Dr. Steve G. Jones about how hypnosis can prime the mind for learning new things. Is the team buying it?
Then, we get up-close and personal with some healing crystals. Dylan and Steph explain how and why they’re used, and which crystals are thought to be best for learning languages, with the caveat that they are widely considered pseudoscience.
Finally, the team shares funny anecdotes of trying to learn new things while sleeping. We bust some myths related to learning by osmosis and explain how sleep can help you remember information you’ve learned.
This episode was produced by Dylan Lyons and edited by Ruben Vilas. Jen Jordan is our executive producer. Our logo was designed by Ally Zhao. Special thanks this week to Elise ASMR and Dr. Steve G. Jones.
Elise ASMR | YouTube
Dr. Steve G. Jones
Can ASMR Help You Learn A Language? | Babbel Magazine
Can Hypnosis Help You Learn A Language? | Babbel Magazine
Can Crystals Help You Learn A Language? | Babbel Magazine
How Sleep Can Help You Learn A Language (And How It Can’t) | Babbel Magazine
What is ASMR? | ASMR University
Dylan Lyons: Hey there.
Jen Jordan: Oh, my god.
Dylan Lyons: Hello and welcome from the language app Babbel this is Multilinguish.
Jen Jordan: I can’t.
Dylan Lyons: From the language at Babbel, this is Multilinguish. I’m senior producer Dylan Lyons. The thought of learning a new language can be daunting. So naturally people are always looking for shortcuts for ways to passively learn a language. In this episode, we’ll explore some of these learning hacks. Can you actually gain something from ASMR, hypnosis, crystals, or learning in your sleep, or is it all just wishful thinking? Today, we’ll dig into each of these four strategies and separate fact from fiction.
But before we get started, a reminder to please rate and review Multilinguish wherever you listen, and be sure you’re subscribed so you get new episodes as soon as they’re released. Now, let’s get mystical. I’m joined by Jen Jordan, Steph Koyfman, and Thomas Moore Devlin. Hello everyone.
Jen Jordan: Hello?
Steph Koyfman: Hello Dylan.
Thomas Devlin: Hello.
Dylan Lyons: Did you enjoy that ASMR at the beginning there?
Jen Jordan: No.
Thomas Devlin: No.
Dylan Lyons: None of you. Okay. Well—
Steph Koyfman: I did.
Dylan Lyons: Thank you, Steph. True hero.
Thomas Devlin: It’s not you. It’s me.
Dylan Lyons: I get that a lot.
Jen Jordan: I’m not really into the tapping.
Dylan Lyons: Okay. Well, everyone has different favorite ASMR triggers.
Steph Koyfman: Well, I just want our listeners to know that Dylan apparently has specific implements that he is using for ASMR, specific tools.
Jen Jordan: Yeah, that he has co-opted throughout the office.
Dylan Lyons: Yes, I’ve gathered. I tried a few things actually. I tried a piece of foam before and it didn’t really sound that great, but I think I found the perfect combo. So I’m really glad we were able to do that experiment together. So we’re talking about ASMR first as a possible means of learning a language without really trying. So I guess to start, how familiar are you all with ASMR?
Jen Jordan: I understand the concept. I’m just having trouble understanding how it would apply in a language learning context.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah. I would say I think the only reason I know about ASMR is through my coworkers.
Dylan Lyons: Fair.
Thomas Devlin: The New Yorker did a video about ASMR, and I had heard of it before then but I think that was when I finally knew what it was and that’s also when I diagnosed myself with misophonia.
Steph Koyfman: What’s that, Thomas?
Thomas Devlin: Misophonia especially when applied to ASMR is when these sounds trigger not a feeling of pleasure but in fact a feeling of abject horror or hatred because I could not even listen.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. Thomas really doesn’t like ASMR, which is part of the reason I asked him to join us for this episode.
Jen Jordan: I feel like it’s something that very few people have a gray area. They either like it or they really don’t like it.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. So I’m a big fan of it. I actually discovered it from an article I wrote for Babbel. And now I listen to it sometimes for fun because it’s really relaxing when you’re trying to fall asleep on weekends especially.
Steph Koyfman: Is ASMR though mostly humans creating sounds or can it be rain sounds? Because that was a thing in the ’90s, they sold those CDs a while… It shows how old I am.
Dylan Lyons: Oh, yeah.
Steph Koyfman: They sold those CDs in natural stores. It had like Greens Across The Savannah. And it was just sounds of nature.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. That can be part of it for sure. I think it’s a little different than… there’s a another phenomenon where certain pieces of music can trigger really emotional feelings or whatever. This is a little different than that, but these are basically stimuli, whether they’re sounds or sometimes they’re hand movements in the ASMR videos, mouth sounds, or other sounds that trigger a response in your brain that many people find relaxing. Not Thomas, but many people.
Jen Jordan: I do have to say mouth founds is probably one of the more disgusting words we’ve featured—
Steph Koyfman: Yeah. Forget moist.
Jen Jordan: … in a podcast.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah. Mouth sounds.
Dylan Lyons: Mouth sounds. Yeah.
Steph Koyfman: … moist.
Jen Jordan: The whole purpose we will enjoy it because it’s relaxing. So you find it relaxing.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah, I do.
Jen Jordan: And the whole theory is when you’re relaxed you’re more open to learn.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. Exactly. In one study in the UK they found that people who had experienced ASMR stimuli had lower heart rates comparable to those measured in studies like during meditation. So it has similar benefits to meditation, and the participants also had positive emotional responses while they were watching the videos. So there’s still more room for studies to be done, but it seems like it can put you in a more relaxed state and lower your heart rate, which in turn can help you learn.
Basically a lot of it’s anecdotal, but there have been anecdotal indications that ASMR can improve your focus, can help you get more sleep, and just kind of prime your mind for learning. So that’s kind of the basic idea of how it can help.
Steph Koyfman: And there are some I think ASMRists. ASMR—
Dylan Lyons: ASMRtists. Yes.
Steph Koyfman: ASMRtists.
Dylan Lyons: Very clever.
Steph Koyfman: That focus on language. They’re multi-lingual, right?
Dylan Lyons: Right. So I have an example of one that I will play now.
Elise: [French words] tapping.
Dylan Lyons: So that was the French ASMRtist Elise speaking of French and doing some tapping. In addition to ASMR in English or no talking or whatever that can help prime your mind for learning there are also some ASMRtists who use specific languages and specific words in other languages as trickers partially because those words are not in our normal vocabulary. So hearing them can be really soothing in some cases. And others are specifically trying to teach people certain words in other languages just by whispering those words.
Jen Jordan: I wonder if you learn languages with ASMR if it just triggers Pavlovian response. Every time you hear that language do you just get spine tingles?
Dylan Lyons: Ooh.
Steph Koyfman: That would be kind of cool actually if you could associate feeling relaxed with hearing a certain language. Although I bet they’d pick pretty words. You talked about the most nice sounding beautiful words, soothing words.
Dylan Lyons: Oh, yeah. Steph, you did some research on that.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah, a little bit.
Dylan Lyons: The most soothing words.
Steph Koyfman: Because I know that you’re going to choose harsh sounding words in—
Dylan Lyons: No.
Steph Koyfman: … ASMR.
Dylan Lyons: Definitely not. And French is a good example because a lot of people find French very soothing.
Thomas Devlin: I was just going to ask if there are let’s say German ASMRtists.
Dylan Lyons: Not that I have come across. But who knows? There might be. I’ve come across Spanish, French, I think there was an Italian one, Russian for sure, Polish. One of my favorite ASMRtist uses Polish words in some of his videos to act as a trigger. They’re very soothing. So yeah, those are the different ways that ASMR can sort of indirectly help in language learning. I don’t know if you all are buying it or—
Steph Koyfman: I feel like you’re the only one who’s into this idea. I feel like the rest of us are just kind of like…
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. That’s fair. That’s fair.
Thomas Devlin: I buy the reasoning. But I just can tell for me it would not work because I hear bad sounds.
Steph Koyfman: You hear sounds and then…
Thomas Devlin: I hear bad sounds.
Steph Koyfman: … feels they’re all bad.
Thomas Devlin: I don’t—
Jen Jordan: I see dead people.
Thomas Devlin: … like it.
Jen Jordan: I hear bad sounds.
Thomas Devlin: They’re bad. I feel like I can feel my spine just shuttering when I hear someone—
Dylan Lyons: Well, it’s supposed to be a nice spine tingle but—
Thomas Devlin: My spine has never been tingled nicely. It’s just always bad. Always.
Dylan Lyons: Sounds like a you problem. So yeah. That’s ASMR. All right. So moving on to our next alternative language learning method, hypnosis. I’m going to play you a brief clip to set the mood.
Video Announcer: What’s wrong with these people? Sick, one over the aide? Neither. They’re hypnotized. Using total strangers or subjects here’s a demonstration by the famous hypnotist, Richard Payne. First he takes his three subjects for a bicycle ride.
Richard Payne: Now concentrate. Concentrate towards me. On the word three, understand on the word three you’re going to have a race. You are going to have a race. One, two, three. You’re racing. Now peddle faster, faster.
Dylan Lyons: That was a clip from the 1949 film Hypnotist, black and white British film, so just to give you a flavor of the old fashioned view of hypnotism. But have any of you participated in any sort of hypnosis, maybe at a school event or something?
Jen Jordan: No, but I kind of wish I did.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah. I’m too much of a skeptic to… I think you really have to want to be hypnotized for it to work. It’s one those things you have to kind of opt into. And I never… not a big fan.
Thomas Devlin: I have always been too scared that I’d start doing something very embarrassing. So I’ve gone to the things but I would never volunteer. I don’t know. I remember specifically being in high school and I’m like, “What if I’m under hypnosis and then I say who I have a crush on and then she knows? Oh, no.”
Dylan Lyons: But you’ve watched the shows.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah.
Dylan Lyons: So you kind of get the vibe. Hypnosis is putting people in a state of mind so that they’re more open to the power of suggestion. So you put them in this relaxed trance like state and then tell them to do things and they… I mean, I don’t know how much of it is just going along with it, but it’s said to be that they kind of are almost subconsciously going along with whatever they’re told. So I actually interviewed Dr. Steve G Jones who is a practicing hypnotist and apparently he works with some celebrities and higher level clients. And he kind of talked about how hypnosis gets your mind ready for learning.
Dr. Steve Jones: And I think a lot of the challenges with any kind of learning have to do with being calm during the… when you’re putting it in, the entry process and then having a mechanism that you can access or procedure that will access the mechanism for recall. So a lot of times when people learn things they’re good at learning things, but when it comes time to actually use it they don’t have an efficient process to access that information. So hypnosis when used for learning languages allows you to have that power, also the power to take it out and use it when you need it.
Dylan Lyons: So are you buying it?
Thomas Devlin: I guess my question is I think hypnosis when you think about it is those big shows where it’s you get people to do wild and crazy things, on a cruise ship for example. Because I feel also… isn’t hypnosis part of regular psychotherapy? Isn’t that a real thing?
Dylan Lyons: Yeah, you can have private sessions with the hypnotists, which is part of what Dr. Jones does, and they will work with you on your specific barrier that you’re trying to get over or if you’re trying to quit smoking or whatever the case may be. And they can either see you in person or also a lot of them have recordings that you can listen to on your own time that kind of do the same thing, which is to try to relax your mind and get you into a more accepting state I guess you could say. I actually have one more clip from him about this whole.
Dr Steve Jones: You can do anything you put your mind to and the subconscious mind is usually the bottleneck. That’s usually the challenge. People think in their conscious mind, “I’m going to do that,” and then subconsciously they’ve always programs running in there such as, “I can’t learn a foreign language program.” And so hypnosis helps you to bypass all of that.
Steph Koyfman: Here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s in my subconscious mind that’s not getting me to speak the language the way I want to. I think it’s the fact that I can’t remember vocabulary when I’m actually confronted with a real human.
Dylan Lyons: So for you it’s conscious.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah, I mean, I think part of it I think there’s something to be said for putting yourself in a state where you’re not distracted or not thinking about something else and trying to focus on a task deeply. And I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with in life in general with phones and electronics and everything else. But don’t think it’s a subconscious state that I’m lacking.
Jen Jordan: But it is kind of anxiety or fear based though, right? I guess the idea is that people wouldn’t have as much trouble recalling that information if they weren’t in the hot seat, so to speak.
Steph Koyfman: That’s true I guess.
Thomas Devlin: So just to be clear on this section what you’re suggesting for helping our language learning is I call up my neighborhood hypnotists and say, “Hey, come over.” And then they hypnotize me and then I fire up my Babbel app and then do some lessons under the influence. And that sound to master the language…
Dylan Lyons: Under the influence of hypnosis. Sure you could invite him over or—
Steph Koyfman: Well, you could be under the influence of your own thought loops and psychosis.
Thomas Devlin: Yes. I just want to know exactly what method you’re proposing.
Jen Jordan: Yeah. Actualize this for us.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. I’m not proposing any method to be clear. We’re just examining them. But for instance, there are recordings available online of hypnosis sessions, for lack of a better word, specifically focus on learning new things or staying focused or even learning a new language. So the idea is you could listen to this recording every night or every morning or whatever for a couple of weeks and afterward later that day or the next morning you could study the language. And the hope is that you would be in the right mind space and head space, I guess, and be more confident in yourself and be able to learn more.
Steph Koyfman: Also, isn’t there a strategy where if you practice meditation or I guess this, I could also apply to hypnosis where you can sort of snap yourself into a state of deeper concentration and more… not snap yourself into subconscious but something along those lines too. So I’m wondering if maybe there’s some merit there if you can get yourself to a space where you’re able to focus more, able to go back to a mantra that’s like, “I can do this,” versus, “This is so hard. I’m never going to master French.”
Thomas Devlin: Yeah. I think that’s the flow state where you’re just really in what you’re doing. You’re really concentrated and you feel like you can do whatever it takes.
Jen Jordan: Can you hypnotize yourself using ASMR?
Dylan Lyons: That is a great question that I don’t know the answer to. But if you would to try combining methods, please do and report back.
Jen Jordan: Get back to us on that.
Thomas Devlin: I do you want to say this sounds very similar to meditation as you mentioned.
Dylan Lyons: Yes.
Jen Jordan: That’s kind of my dumb question is where is the line exactly?
Thomas Devlin: Is it just hypnosis that’s a more woo woo phrase.
Dylan Lyons: Probably. I don’t know. I mean, you can do meditation with a therapist. I feel like hypnosis is supposed to be with a person who’s specially trained in hypnosis. It can be a therapist also, but I don’t know.
Jen Jordan: I do think that meditation is more about clearing your mind of thoughts, whereas hypnosis is more like trying to get yourself to do something or access your subconscious to do some things, and maybe there is a distinction there in terms of the purpose and where you’re actually supposed to be doing.
Dylan Lyons: Yeah. But I do agree there are along the same lines and I think pretty much everything we’re talking about today falls into that same.
Steph Koyfman: I will offer one category.
Dylan Lyons: Sure.
Steph Koyfman: I don’t think meditation is about clearing your mind of thoughts so much as just being able to actually focus on what’s going on around you in the moment.
Dylan Lyons: To be in the moment.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah, exactly. To pay attention to your breathing, pay attention to the sounds around you.
Jen Jordan: And mindfulness. Yeah. That’s a good point. That’s a good clarification.
Dylan Lyons: Which yeah, I guess is a little different than hypnosis. Okay. Well, shall we move on?
Jen Jordan: I mean, I feel this one couldn’t hurt. It’s easy enough to access some of this material, right? If you wanted to try.
Dylan Lyons: It’s all online.
Jen Jordan: How does everyone else feel?
Thomas Devlin: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think I’d jump to it I will say. I don’t think this will be my first like, “I’m having a little trouble with my Spanish vocabulary. Let me look up a hypnosis tape.” I don’t know what voice that is. I’m sorry.
Jen Jordan: Steph, what about you?
Steph Koyfman: I don’t think it would be my first recourse.
Jen Jordan: Interesting.
Steph Koyfman: I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to a hypnotist, but if someone came to the Babbel office and was offering free hypnosis I would like, “Sure.”
Thomas Devlin: So if someone shows up at your door it’s just like, “Can I hypnotize you ma’am?”
Dylan Lyons: She says, yes.
Steph Koyfman: No. I mean, that’s a little weirder. I think it would have to be I have a clear sense of this person’s credentials.
Dylan Lyons: Motives.
Jen Jordan: I know what we’re doing for our next team building exercise.
Dylan Lyons: Yes. Let’s get a hypnotist in here. After the break, what’s the deal with crystals and can you really learn a language in your sleep? We’ll be right back. Multiliguish is brought to you by Babbel, the language app. So it’s time for another language learning lightning round. Jen, let’s start with you. What’s the most embarrassing language mistake you’ve ever made?
Jen Jordan: So in Paris I told my taxi driver I’m horny. What I said was just je suis chaude which means I am hot. It literally translates to I am a hot but it actually means I’m horny. You need to say
j’ai chaud and I knew that but was also tired. It was 5:30 and I was going to the airport. So definitely don’t make that mistake.
Dylan Lyons: Big yikes. Okay. David, what about you?
David: Okay. I made the most classic mistake that any Spanish speaker can make and got laughed up by my entire class in high school. And that mistake is if you’re trying to say, “I’m embarrassed,” you actually don’t say the word in Spanish that sounds most like the word embarrassed English, which is embarazado or embarazada because that actually means pregnant. So when you say embarazada that means, “I’m pregnant,” and it only serves to make you more embarrassed than you already were.
Jen Jordan: It could be miraculous though.
David: That would be an absolutely… I feel you could start a religion from that.
Dylan Lyons: That is classic. Thomas, what’s your language mistake?
Thomas Devlin: I don’t know if it’s that embarrassing, but whenever I’m in a different country my brain does not know how to deal with saying excuse me. So usually it defaults to lo siento and it does not matter if I am in Germany or France or whatever. If someone bumps into me I will just immediately go lo siento and I say it in a bad accent. So they stare at me. It’s, “You’re not Spanish.” And I’m like, “I know. I’m so sorry.”
Dylan Lyons: Amazing. Thank you all for sharing those difficult moments. With Babbel. You don’t have to worry about making mistakes because Babbel helps you speak a new language with confidence, and their 10 to 15 minute lessons are easy to fit into your schedule. We’re offering Multilinguish listeners 50% off at three months subscription. New customers can get this offer by visiting babbel.com/podcast, that’s B-A-B-B-E-L.com/podcast. So we’re getting even a little more mystical now and moving into healing crystals. Get pumped.
Jen Jordan: It’s my favorite learning method. Maybe this is why I haven’t made as much progress as I want to.
Steph Koyfman: Oh, my god. You brought some in.
Dylan Lyons: I brought-
Steph Koyfman: Love it.
Dylan Lyons: … a couple of crystals and I would like you guys to hold them for a moment and describe them and tell us how they make you feel.
Thomas Devlin: Where did you get these?
Dylan Lyons: I got these from a crystal shop in Manhattan called Rockstar Crystals.
Thomas Devlin: I think I can just… we’ll pass them along.
Jen Jordan: Can I have one of them? I feel like you’re mixing them.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah. You’re mixing them. You got to hold them each separate.
Dylan Lyons: You’re mixing the energies. What the-
Thomas Devlin: I’m holding—
Dylan Lyons: Sorry.
Thomas Devlin: Wow! Getting the explicit tag.
Steph Koyfman: What am I supposed to do with them?
Thomas Devlin: Yeah, I’m holding I would call it a purple one. What is it?
Dylan Lyons: It’s amethyst.
Thomas Devlin: Oh, I do like amethyst.
Steph Koyfman: So I’m holding what appears to be a little piece of quartz.
Dylan Lyons: Yes. Clear quartz. Good job, Steph.
Steph Koyfman: Well, I mean I am the person at Babbel that would know these things.
Dylan Lyons: Yes. I would hope so.
Steph Koyfman: I have to say though for all of my woo inclinations I have a lot of friends who swear by crystals. They’ve never really done anything for me that I can… you know what I mean?
Jen Jordan: What does swearing my crystals mean? Meaning like it really does help them clear their head or-
Steph Koyfman: Right. It actually does have some sort of effect on their state of mind. I’ve never really been able to peel it. But I’m open to it.
Dylan Lyons: So let’s back up a second and talk about what it is in terms of how people use crystals and people who believe in crystals, what they think that they do. So basically it’s kind of an alternative medicine that each crystal is thought to contain certain properties that help your mental and/or physical health. But I just want to start with a caveat that most Western scientists consider this a pseudoscience and there have not been many studies on their effectiveness, but it’s thought to have some sort of placebo effect at play. So keep that in mind as we discuss this. Do any of you know anything about crystals or have you had any inner experiences?
Jen Jordan: I had a rock collection growing up. Does that count?
Dylan Lyons: Were they crystals?
Jen Jordan: Some of them were.
Thomas Devlin: I was going to ask, do you remember when you’d go to some sort of gift shop or other store-
Dylan Lyons: I know what you’re going to say.
Thomas Devlin: … and they just had… it was like a wooden contraption filled with crystals and rocks that were really smooth.
Dylan Lyons: With the velvet bag.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah. Did you guys ever get geodes?
Thomas Devlin: No.
Dylan Lyons: No.
Steph Koyfman: Split the geode and then sometimes there’s crystals inside and sometimes it’s horribly disappointing. And then you’d ship them out and then I had a rock tumbler and you would tumble them to get them to be smooth. No? Just me.
Thomas Devlin: Just you. I just always found the little rock shanty sales. They have really somehow come up with probably the highest percentage of profit. They’re selling me rocks, but they’re so smooth that I wished to hold them.
Steph Koyfman: That’s I think the most appealing thing about holding this amethyst is the fact it’s very smooth. If it a rock of amethyst that was still jagged the way amethyst crystals are spiky I feel it would not have the same effect. I just like holding this because I can fiddle with it and it’s super smooth and I can touch it. It feels nice.
Dylan Lyons: Sure.
Jen Jordan: I mean, I do have some crystals around my apartment, but like I said, I mean, I can’t really say for sure that they’ve had any sort of bearing on anything other than the fact that I liked the way they look. I mean, I have a lot of friends in the woo or spiritual or metaphysical community and a lot of them will hold them when they meditate. They might put a little one in their pocket or their bra or keep it on their body if they need it for specific reasons. I have a esthetician that I go to for facial sometimes and she likes to put a little piece of Rose quartz on the client’s heart center while she… it’s relaxing. It’s nice.
Dylan Lyons: And it’s true that they’re supposed to, especially the different colors, correlate with the chakras of your body. You’re supposed to place them on certain parts or-
Steph Koyfman: I mean, I could be wrong. I think the idea is that the crystals have a certain like… I don’t know what you would call it, like an atomic structure basically similar to how there’s silicone in your computer. It encodes information.
Jen Jordan: Interesting.
Steph Koyfman: So what does it have to do with language learning?
Dylan Lyons: Okay. So the key question, so I also wanted to know if that was a thing. Actually I think Jen, you wanted to know if that was a thing. So I investigated it for you.
Jen Jordan: This is one of my pitches that you put off for doing for like a year.
Dylan Lyons: And then I did it. So I went to Rockstar Crystal shop and I met the assistant manager who gave me… his name is Emerald, which is definitely his birth name. But he was actually really helpful and he gave me some pointers on the best crystals that might help with learning generally and with learning languages specifically. So the four he mentioned were amethyst because it is really good for your mental health and psychic protection, clear quartz, which is the other one we have here, which is good for clearing bad thoughts and also helps with storing memory and purifying the aura, fluorite, which is the mineral form of calcium fluoride. And that is a crystal of the mind and that helps with mental focus.
Well, those are the three main crystal types. But the other note is that the colors purple and white or clear are supposedly the best colors for mental clarity and for learning specifically.
Jen Jordan: I would also to add that I think orange stones would probably be good for because I think that there’s some sort of like…there’s an affinity based signification action system with these things where orange is the color of mercury. Mercury is the planet of learning and communication. So I guess in my limited experience with crystals I’ve noticed that the orange stones tend to be associated with mercury related things.
Dylan Lyons: Interesting. Okay. So purple, orange and white, look for those. So I guess the idea is that you could hold one or wear one around your neck on a necklace or put one in your pocket or even under your pillow, and that that would create good energies for learning.
Steph Koyfman: Here’s the thing. It sounds this comes back down to finding different ways to concentrate.
Dylan Lyons: True.
Steph Koyfman: Or get yourself in a better state of mind to do an activity that involves some form of thinking or concentration. So if holding a crystal is the thing that gets you there or listening to a hypnosis tape and then studying I think any of these work if that’s what works for you.
Dylan Lyons: Right. Even if any or all of them are based in a placebo effect it still could work for you because it helps you feel focused and relaxed and all that.
Steph Koyfman: Here’s another question. So the piece of clear quartz that I’m holding is maybe the size of a marble, so very smooth.
Dylan Lyons: Yes.
Steph Koyfman: How much was this?
Dylan Lyons: I believe it was two or three dollars.
Steph Koyfman: This is one of those capitalizing on wellness consumer driven—
Dylan Lyons: Yes.
Jen Jordan: They are really overpriced in certain places.
Steph Koyfman: And we’re also in the middle of Manhattan. But I feel this is one of those capitalism driven trends versus—
Dylan Lyons: Absolutely.
Steph Koyfman: … maybe other more well-intentioned-
Thomas Devlin: Just got to find…
Steph Koyfman: We’re looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe I can’t say that on this podcast.
Dylan Lyons: Goop it up. Quick yay or nay on crystals.
Steph Koyfman: I’m going to go with the same thing that I said before. I don’t think it would be the first method I would choose but—
Jen Jordan: I feel like I’m more into crystals than I am any of the other methods you’ve talked about so far.
Dylan Lyons: Really?
Jen Jordan: I think they’re pretty. I like shiny things. I had a rock collection.
Steph Koyfman: It doesn’t involve talking to a creepy dude.
Jen Jordan: Don’t have to talk to anybody. They’re just pretty and they hang out and I can put them out under a full moon and recharge them. I can kind of be into that.
Dylan Lyons: You don’t even need an outlet.
Thomas Devlin: Personally, no. It’s going to be a no for me. I wouldn’t disparage someone else if that’s what works for them. Who am I to say that I know everything about how the world works? But I will go to those rock shanties again and get some more smooth rocks to hold though.
Dylan Lyons: Great. Well, last but certainly not least, have you ever wished you could learn something in your sleep?
Jen Jordan: Who doesn’t?
Thomas Devlin: Yeah.
Steph Koyfman: I’m trying to rack my brain right now to remember if I actually did something this once. Maybe when I was a child. I don’t know.
Dylan Lyons: I mean, there are a lot of stories in even pop culture references to learning in your sleep.
Steph Koyfman: You know what? When I was studying for my bar mitzvah, my haftarah portion, I think I played the cassette in my sleep because I thought it might help-
Dylan Lyons: Did it?
Steph Koyfman: … me memorize it. I don’t know. I mean, I definitely had to do a lot of repetition and a lot of practice. But—
Dylan Lyons: Yes. So hypnopedia is the idea that you can learn in your sleep just by hearing recordings played while you sleep. It has been largely debunked. It does not work. We can say that for a fact. There are some examples of this in pop culture. They do something like this in the book Brave New World. There’s also an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory, I believe.
Thomas Devlin: Yes. Do you all remember this episode?
Jen Jordan: You’re the only person who’s talked about it, Thomas.
Dylan Lyons: Please tell us.
Thomas Devlin: Well, Dexter is another red head in media. I feel the need to be supportive. So the episode is he is studying for a French quiz. He’s a scientist but kind of an old fashioned contraption where he has French on a record but then after he falls asleep it starts skipping. So he just keeps learning the phrase omelette du fromage or cheese omelet over and over again. And then the joke is the next day that’s all he needs to get by. And then the only question on the quiz is omelette du fromage and then also all of the women swoon because he’s speaking French.
Jen Jordan: That’s amazing.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah. But then he can’t see any other terms at all because it’s overwritten his brain. So he tries to get back into his lab with his English password and it doesn’t work. And then it blows up.
Dylan Lyons: Wow! What a ride. Well, yeah, so that is not nonfiction. Basically in the 1950s these researchers did a study where they played a recording of someone listing trivia facts while participants slept. And when the participants awoke they recalled none of the facts. Shocking.
Steph Koyfman: I mean, could it work if you already know the things that you are just hearing overnight but it’s reinforcing it? There’s really nothing there? Are you sure?
Dylan Lyons: I don’t think so because you’re asleep. However, there is something with sleep. It’s just not that.
Thomas Devlin: Wait, but have you all ever had… you have a dream and then you wake up and you realize something external influenced that dream though?
Steph Koyfman: Yes. Yeah.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah. I’ll have a dream about birds and then I’ll wake up and there’ll be birds around me or I’ll have a dream I’m eating a big marshmallow, then I wake up and the pillow is gone.
Jen Jordan: It’s a terrible joke.
Dylan Lyons: You’re fired. The other thing about sleep is that it can help you learn because you got enough sleep, which is kind of obvious. But there have been a lot of studies about this and there are specific scientific reasons and ways getting enough sleep can help you learn a language. So there’s a phase of sleep that’s not REM or REM called slow wave sleep or SWS. And this is really important for memory processing. So basically some researchers taught participants new vocab words and then tested them on them later that day. But then there was an experimental group who learned the new vocab words and then went to sleep and then were tested the next day. And the people who went to sleep in between recalled the words a lot better.
So basically the idea is that when you’re in this SWS phase of sleep your memories really get ingrained, and it helps you remember things that you learned. So getting sleep is important for learning a language.
Jen Jordan: I also thought there was some study or merit to studying right before bed. I don’t know if any of your study has mentioned this, but my… so my whole thing was I would have to memorize poems on Pushkin for my Russian class, which was at like 8:30 in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, something ridiculous that. So what I would do is I would study Russian and read the poem over and over and over again right before bed, because you’d have to recite it in front of the entire class. It was part of your grade. And so every-
Steph Koyfman: It sounds traumatic.
Jen Jordan: It’s so still traumatic. And I used to remembered stupid poetry, but I don’t remember what the words mean. It’s very strange. So I would recite the poem over and over again and I would sleep on it too just for extra measure in case-
Dylan Lyons: Actually asleep on the book or the paper.
Jen Jordan: Yeah, I would to put it in my Russian book and then put it under my pillow. But I would think about… well, I like a firm pillow, Dylan. And then I would sleep on it but I would think about the poem as I was falling asleep too because I thought if I slept right after I studied my brain would take that information.
Steph Koyfman: Consolidate it.
Jen Jordan: Yeah. I thought I would be able to dream about it, and actually my roommate in college told me that more than once she heard me reciting Russian in my sleep.
Dylan Lyons: Oh, that’s creepy.
Jen Jordan: Science.
Dylan Lyons: Science rules.
Thomas Devlin: I feel there’s two points there. Well, osmosis is one thing and that’s the belief that if you sleep on your book it will go into your head because osmosis refers to water moving between the cells.
Dylan Lyons: Osmosis Jones. Great film.
Thomas Devlin: Thank you Dylan.
Dylan Lyons: You’re welcome.
Thomas Devlin: That was a good film. I was thinking about it the other day. I’m surprised that that hasn’t really carried more cultural weight.
Jen Jordan: Can we go back to my thing now?
Thomas Devlin: And then the other thing I also vote for the Babbel magazine about when is the best time to study, and right before going to sleep or even taking a nap is definitely better because that’s when… because you need to move memories from short term, which is you can keep 3 to 10 things in short term then it moves to longterm. But then there’s also another level which you need sleep to…
Dylan Lyons: I think that involves the SWS. So it’s probably it’s still in your short term memory, it’s still fresher if you study right before bed.
Jen Jordan: I mean, it worked for me. Yeah, I always was able to memorize all of my Russian poetry.
Dylan Lyons: There you go. I mean I guess I don’t really need to ask if you believe that you should sleep.
Thomas Devlin: Sleep, good or bad. I’m not so sure.
Dylan Lyons: But I guess kind of the idea of making sure that you learn and then sleep before you try to use what you’ve learned.
Steph Koyfman: How would you actually put this in the practice? So you would study right before you go to bed basically. That’s where you’re saying. If you had to build a learning habit you would study before bed.
Dylan Lyons: I think so. I think that makes the most sense. And also the other point from this is that say you have a test that you’re taking on a foreign language or any topic but don’t cram right before the test that same day because you won’t have that slow wave sleep to ingrain it. So you should study the day before at least. Sorry procrastinators.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah. I was also thinking just if you are thinking you’re staying up late and getting bad sleep to study then you should just sleep instead.
Dylan Lyons: That’s true.
Thomas Devlin: I would tell myself in college. It’s like, “No, no.”
Dylan Lyons: No all nighters.
Thomas Devlin: I’m not sleeping. I’m consolidating memories.
Dylan Lyons: So we have ASMR, hypnosis, crystals, and sleep. And the basic takeaway is that any of these could potentially help anyone indirectly by putting them in a relaxed mindset or the right state for learning or helping improve their memory and focus. But in general this would be a supplement to another form of learning or studying because these methods won’t teach you a language. But I am curious to know if any of you have any other interesting or crazy ways you’ve tried to learn things that you remember. I know the sleeping on your Russian textbook was certainly unique.
Jen Jordan: Maybe the craziest one. I don’t know. And has no one else done anything like that?
Thomas Devlin: I wouldn’t sleep on my book.
Jen Jordan: You had no other crazy either passive or superstitious things you did to learn? You guys were just that smart.
Thomas Devlin: I mean, yeah.
Dylan Lyons: I mean, Thomas.
Steph Koyfman: I mean, I mentioned already that I tried playing the recording of my haftorah portion.
Dylan Lyons: That’s true. That’s definitely up there.
Steph Koyfman: It’s not like I memorized like it that alone.
Dylan Lyons: Right. You used other techniques as well.
Steph Koyfman: Yeah.
Thomas Devlin: I don’t know if this counts as learning technique but more of a producing foreign language technique, which is… we’ve talked about this before because it’s popular. Drinking.
Dylan Lyons: Oh, yes.
Jen Jordan: The metaphysical arts of alcohol.
Thomas Devlin: So this isn’t so much drinking when you are studying and then you’ll remember it better. But when I am with people who don’t speak English and I want to say Spanish, because Spanish is probably my second language I’m best at, if I’m drinking after a while I get better at Spanish just because when I stopped being constantly scared of whether I’m about to make a mistake because I’m drinking and I’m going to make lots of mistakes both with the language and probably in other ways I could just get better because then… because the person you’re speaking to doesn’t care if you conjugate something wrong once in a while. They just are trying to get the gist and it facilitates it.
Dylan Lyons: I think that goes along with hypnosis too. It’s releasing your inhibitions.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah. I also believe there was a specific study. So this isn’t just anecdotal but they looked at pronunciation and people are better at pronunciation of words when they’ve had something to drink. There’s obviously a point—
Steph Koyfman: A bell curve.
Dylan Lyons: Not too much.
Thomas Devlin: It’ll drop off eventually.
Jen Jordan: I will say it probably has a detrimental effect in terms of remembering things and learning because you are just also killing brain cells.
Thomas Devlin: Yes. I’m not encouraging anyone to drink, but I’m just saying.
Jen Jordan: It definitely helps though. I’ve been there.
Dylan Lyons: Great. Well, thank you all for joining me. This has been fun. Feel free to take a crystal on your way out.
Thomas Devlin: Yeah.
Steph Koyfman: You didn’t bring enough for of us.
Dylan Lyons: Shh. They’re expensive.
Thomas Devlin: You need a take a crystal, leave a crystal jar.
Dylan Lyons: All right.
Jen Jordan: All right.
Dylan Lyons: See you later.
Steph Koyfman: Thanks, Dylan.
Jen Jordan: Bye. Multilinguish is produced by the content team at Babbel. We are-
Thomas Devlin: Thomas Moore Devlin.
David: David Doochin.
Steph Koyfman: Steph Koyfman.
Dylan Lyons: Dylan Lyons.
Jen Jordan: And I’m Jen Jordan. Ruben Vilas makes us sound good. Our logo was designed by Ally Zhao. You can read more about today’s episode topic and more on Babbel Magazine. Just visit B-A-B-B-E-L.com/magazine. Say hi on social media by finding us @BabbelUSA, all one word. Finally, please rate and review this podcast. We really appreciate it.
Dylan Lyons: This is Multilinguish, a show about language and how it connects us. Psh psh psh psh pshhhhh.