Laugh and Learn Through Language Experiences

Multicultural men and women laughing together as they enjoy a language training experience in person

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I recently read an article about how when we laugh our brain releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone. This makes us feel less anxious and more relaxed, increasing our brain’s ability to retain information. There are many scientific studies to support this, but I see this happening in front of me every day. 

The best part of my job is seeing the smiles on learners’ faces and hearing the inevitable laughter streaming through my computer speakers. Lighthearted humor is present in almost every Experience we do. Who knew that irregular verbs could be so funny? Well, apparently, they can be.   

Several months ago, I participated in a Spanish Sangria Experience with my colleague, Andy. Our teacher noticed that Andy selected a higher-priced bottle of wine than is usually used in sangria. Andy was amused along with the teacher, and I couldn’t resist some good-natured teasing. This humorous distraction made me feel less self-conscious about my awkward pronunciation and imperfect grammar, and I remembered all the appropriate Spanish adjectives for Andy’s “fancy” wine. In fact, we still laugh about it together and I remember the key Spanish words I used to tease him. 

Our teachers intuitively know the power of humor, but it is also a natural part of the delightful, warm, charismatic humans they are. One of my favorite moments from a Beginner French Conversation Group was when a learner was trying to introduce herself. She shared that she studied French when she was in high school, but that it was a long time ago. She struggled then paused and asked the teacher how to say “I am old” in French. The teacher quickly responded, “I refuse to teach you that! Because you are not old!” The learner and the rest of the group shared a few moments of laughter. The learner seemed to relax, refocus, and find joy in speaking.  

I recently saw the start of a German Pronunciation Workshop. One student expressed great anxiety and apprehension, saying he is really interested in the topic and knows it would be helpful, but anticipated it to be “as painful as a dental procedure”. I focused on him as the session started, hoping he would give it a chance. Our wonderful teacher greeted him with such enthusiasm and seemed to know just how to make him smile and relax. Then she started the session with a silly picture of a cat with a funny expression on its face as she demonstrated how to make the first sound. When he saw it, he couldn’t contain his laughter. German pronunciation suddenly became less intimidating, easier to master, and certainly nothing like a trip to the dentist.  

We even have Experiences that are about humor. Many students have told us they “don’t know how to be funny” in their new language. Because we heard it so often, we now offer “How to be Funny in…” and share tips on how to express humor in the target language. We recently hosted an English Experience about April Fool’s Day. We taught families jokes and traditional April Fool’s pranks. They laughed and no doubt remembered much of what they learned in such a fun way.  

Global LT offers Language Experiences that are guaranteed to make you laugh (and learn)! If you want to see what our Experiences are all about, let us know. We’d love to show you.

This blog was written by Karen McDougall, VP of Experiences & Culture.

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