The term flow is fairly new, but the nuns who created the Regina Coeli method had intuited years ago that learning is best done when people feel comfortable, are not distracted, and learn exactly what they need for real life at the right level.
A great deal has been said and written on the subject of stress, which is why we know that stress can be very helpful in some situations, like when a tiger is about to pounce you. In general, though, as humans, we prefer to avoid stressful situations, especially when it comes to learning. When you are under stress, your brain blocks new information, and you cannot learn.
We prefer to strive for a state of flow. Hungarian professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi came up with the term “flow.” It simply means immersing yourself in an activity that is taking place in the now. When you are in a state of flow, your brain is receptive to absorbing new information and making connections with all the things you already know.
How to achieve flow in learningThere are three conditions that have to be met to achieve flow in learning:
1. There must be a match with your skillsThe level of difficulty of what you are learning has to be just right if you want to achieve flow. It should not be too difficult, nor should it be too easy. Coming into a flow is impossible if, for example, you are reading a text or watching a film and cannot follow the basic storyline. The same applies if you start to study those all-too-familiar rows of French verbs or German cases again after many years in an attempt to pick up the language once more. You need a challenge at the appropriate level. That is why one-on-one lessons are so important.
2. You need immediate feedbackImmediate feedback is essential. It stops doubt from creeping in and keeps you from seeing certain things as meaningless. Learning a language on your own is very difficult for that reason. At the very least, you need someone who nods understandingly when you say something. Hearing that you are on the right track is extremely motivating and helps you to push on.
3. You are able to concentrate without distractionsYou achieve a state of flow when you are undistracted and can fully concentrate.
Language learning… pretty scary!At a good language course, the teachers should try to help students come into a flow as quickly as possible because they know better than anyone that a student can then achieve the best results.
Many students feel a bit tense when they start their first day of training. Thoughts like: “Can I do this?”, “I don’t have a head for languages!”, “Will the teachers be too strict?” run through their heads. This is completely understandable – speaking a foreign language can be quite stressful! Just the thought of having a conversation in French or giving a presentation in English can make you break out in a sweat. Luckily, good language teachers can always ease that tension quickly.
A few things that Regina Coeli does to create and maintain flow:
They put together a tailor-made training course, with clear goals that allow you to learn effectively. A language trainer gives you immediate feedback, so your confidence grows when you are with them. Their location allows you to fully concentrate on learning the language – you will experience peace and quiet, a fixed daily rhythm with lessons and breaks, and few to no distractions. You will be fully catered for by their friendly catering staff- hunger and thirst (stress!) are not even in their vocabulary!