Have you ever felt tingles when someone talked to you in a soft voice, or blew gently into your ear? Did you feel drowsy when your mom used to wash or brush your hair? Are you sensitive to sounds like page turning, light tapping or whispers?
Do you know this phenomenon has a name, and that it could also help you learn a new language?
What is ASMR ?
ASMR is short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or simply put, an acoustic or visual stimulus that causes a pleasant and relaxing feeling. Certain viewers are more sensitive than others. There isn’t much scientific research on ASMR so far, so for the sake of this article, I will only stick to the language learning benefits I can see.
Believe it or not, ASMR is going strong on the Internet and on Youtube, as videos are a good source of such stimuli. A number or ASMR “artists” from all over the world try to provide their listeners with “tingles”, which, let’s be honest, can be cringe worthy and totally awkward for some people (me, most of the time!), and very relaxing for others. Some viewers claim to watch ASMR video to help them fall asleep or cope with stress.
Some of the most popular scenarios and role-plays you are going to see in these videos are:
- Ear cleaning session (seriously never understood that one!)
- Cranial nerve exam or any clinical exam
- Showing a collection of objects
- Teaching a language or any other subject
- Hairdresser or beauty salon talk
- Quiet chat with a friend
- Food preparing, or eating sounds (not for the faint heart!)
Scenarios differ, but they all have in common whispers or soft talk, repetitive sounds, a very slow pace and personal attention given to the viewer.
What does it have to do with languages?
Although some ASMR videos include language teaching as part of their scenario, most of them don’t. However, they still present some advantages to the language learner, as they provide natural input material.
- ASMR artists speak slowly, with many pauses, and without any background noise.
- A lot of scenarios are inspired by everyday situations (going to the hair salon, to the clinic, talking to a friend about your day, etc.).
- You can hear many conversation fillers in a natural context.
- Videos allow the learner to get a feeling of the language in a relaxed and non-threatening way, without feeling the pressure to understand every word.
- Videos are presented in many languages, with male and female speakers.
- Major ASMR artists add subtitles to their videos.
Examples of ASMR channels
I’ve tried to find a ASMR artist for some of the most popular languages to learn. As you’ll see, some of these channels are amateurish while others use professional equipment, which makes a huge difference. Some videos are just plainly weird, so you may want to search a bit more to find a voice and a style that fits you.
Mandarin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8J-nvVWFfs
Portuguese : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX_sVPkRfM4
Did you know about ASMR? Do you use it as a complement to your language study?