61-Hour Language Immersion

The term brainwashing was coined with bad connotations during the Korean
War. When American soldiers were captured and subjected to an incessant,
behavioral modifying treatment without sleep, their political ideologies were altered
and their minds were turned against their countrymen. As cruel as such treatment
seemed, it opened up gateways to a more thorough understanding of the brain's
functioning. By fatiguing, confusing and quieting the left brain's conscious,
analytical process, the receptive right hemisphere could absorb material subjected to it
with little difficulty -- like feeding an organic computer.
In one total immersion experiment, Spanish was taught to a male student in 61
hours! The student was kept awake during the entire 61-hour period with only 10
minute pauses every hour. During this process, he was bombarded with instructions
and questions by five Spanish teachers who worked in shifts. The theory was that if
a man could be kept awake long enough, his brain would become so tired that he
couldn't think. Not thinking, he couldn't analyze, and therefore whatever he heard,
he'd absorb and retain, the experimenters reasoned.
After 12 hours, the student had mastered a Spanish vocabulary of 1,000 words
(twice as much Spanish as a student would normally get in 4 hours a week for 3
weeks). By the 44th hour, the student faded. He was too tired to think. He stopped
translating Spanish into English to understand the meaning. For the remaining hours,
he talked to the instructors completely in Spanish. The student suffered no after
affects, remembered his speaking vocabulary quite well and never once felt like he
was being brainwashed throughout the whole experiment.
For this exercise, do not participate as a student or instructor if there are any
medical reasons for you not to do so. Select 3 to 6 instructors that are willing to
rotate in 2 to 6 hour shifts and coordinate accordingly. Have the instructors agree
ahead of time on the language material and the time period, but have a continuous
flow of foreign language instruction bombarding you for 61 hours or longer. Adhere
to the 10 minute toilet and food breaks, but allow yourself no snoozing.
This technique is especially effective when the instructors are creative and use
various memory methods during the immersion process. For instance, if an
instructor personally pantomimes the action that a foreign word represents, and the
student replicates this kinesthetic action, retention will be enhanced by this more
involved association. Smelling items represented by foreign words also improves
recall. Even reiterating foreign words at the bottom of the bounce while bouncing on
a mini-trampoline increases recall later due to the G-force contribution upon the brain
cells. Also by teaching science, art, math or other subject matter, you can create
meaningfulness to the language learning. Singing with intonation, writing foreign
words on the blackboard in mirror language or upside down or using the 4-second
rhythmic method with 60 beats per minute Baroque music in the background (see
"Exercise -- Rhythmic Memorizing") --- can all assist in the immersion learning
process.