Thursday, November 6, 2014

Why You Cannot Be Taught a Foreign Language. Part 19

Warm-up Exercises and Pressure Points

There are a variety of things to work on now: reciting the matrix dialogues, speaking and listening or reading in the foreign language. Before doing any of these, I recommend doing some special warm-up exercises. These types of exercises are widely used in foreign language institutes as well as for actors in the process of establishing their professional voices or immediately before going on stage.

These exercises constitute a kind of massage or energetic rubbing of the lips, cheeks, eyebrows and also the ears—especially the earlobes. A massage of the ears—often including some really sharp slaps—is quite common, not for actors but for boxers a few seconds before they step into the ring (their trainers do this since the boxers' hands are already covered with gloves). The goal is to increase the inflow of blood to the brain and to activate the pressure points that are located in the earlobes, as well.

You should also do some stretches for the lips—something like a scowl that turns into a supersized, ‘plastic’ American smile. You should also do some energetic circular movements with the tongue inside the mouth cavity to stretch out your lips and cheeks from within.

All these exercises should produce a general sense of warmth in the area of the face and take no more than a minute or two.

Now, even though I'm talking about these exercises as warm-up activities, that doesn't mean they're only necessary during the winter when it's 40 degrees below zero—do them even if the thermometer outside your window reads 80 or 90 degrees. Whenever you study your language, begin with these exercises, and do them occasionally even during your lessons. Try not to do this for show or it may seem to those around you that your mental health has severely cracked and they end up putting you into a straightjacket and sending you away to recover.

A massage of the biological pressure points of the face occasionally needs to be done during the lessons—every 30 to 40 minutes, with special emphasis on the earlobes and around the eyebrows. This will help alleviate fatigue and heighten the ability to concentrate, which cannot be overestimated in the study of a foreign language.

By the way, it is well known that the scratching of the back of our head, forehead, nose, chin and so on that we do during difficult moments of contemplation, is nothing other than the unconscious reflexive activation of our body's pressure points. Studying a foreign language is one nonstop taxing moment on the brain, which is accustomed to laziness and passivity.

Let these exercises, deliberately carried out by you, my dear friend, be your secret weapon against this obstinate—in the beginning!—foreign language.

[Via Language Tai-chi, or You Cannot Be Taught a Foreign Language, by Nikolay Zamyatkin]

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