It’s both ineffective and dangerous to learn Spanish, French or your favorite language and drive a car at the same time. Why? Because you should be concentrating on the road, not on learning the word ‘cucaracha’!
What would happen if you stopped concentrating on the road?
Your car (and your body) would soon end up like a ‘cucaracha’ (for educational purposes, that’s the Spanish word for cockroach). Smashed and dead.
So you’re probably asking about this secret skill of learning Spanish while in your automobile and wondering if this is for real. Let me explain:
You Learn Your Language Best After Going For a Drive!
You won’t have to worry about studying words or writing down sentences. You don’t even have to listen to those cheesy language tapes.
All you have to do is concentrate intensely on your driving while relaxed. It will have the unexpected effect of helping you concentrate on your language studies. That’s it!
In fact, you need complete concentration to drive safely. Just imagine how your concentration would be while studying….
The Biggest Time Waster in Language Study
Most people can’t concentrate on their language study. You probably can’t either.
For example, when you sit down to study can you keep critical or worried or even fun and interesting thoughts from interrupting your study? I didn’t think so.
If you’re interrupted by a thought, that interruption is just as real as if someone interrupted you by ringing your door bell.
It’s surprising, isn’t it?
To get a feel for how big a problem this really is for you, try focusing strongly on anything pleasant for the next minute. It could be a new foreign language phrase you want to learn or anything that’s positive and good.
It’s hard, right?
Most people can’t stay concentrated for more than a few seconds before their mind starts planning their next vacation or complaining about their last one.
Mental Distractions Destroy Your Study Time
Have you ever caught yourself staring off into space, thinking about something you didn’t want to think about? The answer’s probably yes. If yes, you know what I mean by ‘mental distractions.’
You learn the fastest when your concentration is at its highest, focused firmly on your computer program or whatever learning tool you’re using. Learning doesn’t happen when your mind is wandering. It doesn’t happen when your mind is being critical, or when it’s worrying about the past or the future.
Basically learning only happens in your moments of concentrating on your studies!
Use Driving to Learn Strong Concentration
What you need to do is go for a drive in your car! When you are driving your car, you can easily and safely use your driving time to learn the art of strong concentration. After you have learned to concentrate on your driving, you’ll be a much better driver AND a much better language student.
Here are some things you can do:
Turn Off Your Radio!
When you get in your car, turn off your radio. If you have any passengers, ask them not to talk to you while you are driving.
Then you can intensely focus your attention on everything around you — your car, the road, the other cars, and yourself.
One other technique that I often use to keep my mind from wandering is to point at a sign or a tree that I will soon be passing and say either out loud or to myself, “Just drive from here to that sign.”
Secondly, you should….
Get 100% Comfortable
Before you start driving, take an extra moment to wiggle around in your seat. Adjust your seat and your mirrors if you need to. Next take a deep breath and really feel your breath. Feel your hands on the steering wheel and make sure they are comfortable. Feel your legs and feet on the seat and the pedals.
To sum up, don’t rush into it! Driving shouldn’t be a race. It should be relaxing.
In Addition, Check Your Clock
I like to look at my digital clock in my dash board then I say out loud, “For just one minute I’ll focus intensely on my body and my driving.” Sometimes I shorten it by saying the time out loud like this: “10:45 AM, this moment, this body.”
When my mind wanders (and it always eventually wanders), I smile and then pull my attention back to the clock, my body, other cars, and the road. I then repeat the process.
Now this is what you should not do….
Try Not to Read Passing Signs
Unless you need to read a road sign to get where you are going, try to avoid reading passing signs or advertisements. These will tend to get you thinking about products you either like or don’t like.
The result will be a wandering mind, which is what you are learning to avoid.
Driving Can Actually Make You Have More Energy!
Everyone knows that driving makes you drowsy, right?
Wrong. It’s not the driving. It’s the hours of random critical, worried and annoying thoughts that tire you out.
The first time I was able to really stay focused on my driving was for a long road trip from Southern California to Arizona. After several hours of intensely focusing on my driving, I arrived at my destination feeling more rested and refreshed than I would have if I had stayed home and not made the trip!
What to Do When Your Mind Wanders
The first time you try this, you will find it extremely difficult to keep your mind from wandering. But like any learned skill, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
It’s very important that when your mind wanders (and it will wander) that you just smile and pull your attention back to your body, your car, and the other cars on the road. You’ll be pulling your attention back often, but the more you do it, the less often you’ll do it.
Your new skill of strong concentration will dramatically improve your ability as a language student AND make you a safer driver too.
Note: It’s my opinion that this may be the most important article about learning a foreign language on this web site. If it resonated with you please e-mail the link to your friends, blog about it and write about it on Facebook and Twitter. — Brent V
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Driving Helps You Concentrate on Learning Spanish. https://language101.com/concentration-Spanish
Last Updated: November 11, 2011