Please do read on! This blog post will not waste your time with unscientific babbling.
Is it really possible to do so-called "sleep-learning"? What is sleep-learning? In short, sleep-learning is to listen to some audio recording while you're asleep, in the hope that you'll somehow recall the content when you wake up.
Most scientific tests of sleep-learning a language, have only proven questionable. Most of the time you are - at best - not deprived of a good night's sleep.
Since I can't recommend sleep-learning, what then is the point with this blog post? The title is "How to Learn Chinese While Sleeping".
Fail-safe sleep-learning lacks scientific backing, but that doesn't mean sleep can't be taken advantage of, when learning Chinese.
How to Take Advantage of Your Sleep to Learn More Chinese?
Scientists agree that when we are asleep our brains work hard to tidy up all the day's new impressions and experiences. You may even have noticed this yourself.
Many sleep-walkers or talkers find that after an especially stressful day, they sleep-walk or sleep-talk about related matters to a greater extent than they would normally do. Perhaps you even tried this yourself?
I think we have taken this piece of science down to a very low-practical level now, haven't we? So how might we apply it to Chinese learning?
It is in fact, quite simple. There are two things to it.
Focus While You're Studying
First, when you sit down and learn some Chinese, make sure your brain gets "strained" enough by it, for it to feel the need to process it at night. If you're being lazy and don't really care to focus on it, then your brain will be less likely to allocate the needed resources for it. Whereas if you push yourself a little extra, motivate yourself and try harder - then your brain will work with it even at night. Don't believe me?
Here is a firsthand experience. Approximately a year and half after I started learning Chinese, I and a fellow Chinese-learner shared a hostel-room. After the first night, my friend told me that I had been quoting parts of some the text that we had be reading weeks earlier. True, my quotation was short, but who knows how much else had been processed by my brain while I was fast asleep?
So the first thing to do to cash in on your sleep, is to focus and concentrate while you are spending time learning Chinese anyway.
Study Every Day
The second thing you can do to take advantage of your sleep, is also very low-practical. It is to make sure to study every single day. Why is that?
Imagine if you're studying Chinese for 2 hours every Monday only. Then on Monday night your brain will be busy trying to tidy up and process all the new Chinese you've fed it. However, chances are that it's more than your brain can handle. So you suffer a memory leakage. Your memory may only retain a small part of what you have studied. In other words, much of the 2 hours spent, is not made optimal use of.
The better way to do it, is to spend 15-20 minutes a day on Chinese learning. That would also be a lot easier to overcome. Why is this better?
If you're learning a little Chinese every day, then you will make good use of your sleep every night as well, instead of just one night during the whole week. This is really the key to learning Chinese while sleeping. Learn a little Chinese every day and focus while doing so.
Not only would you take advantage of your sleep as much as possible, you would also avoid overloading your brain. 15-20 minutes of learning will probably be digestible and retainable for most persons. Of course it varies from person to person, depending on age and other factors.
What is the fail-safe method to sleep-learn Chinese? (No, it is not to disturb a good nights sleep with some Chinese MP3 during the night.)
You should not try to learn Chinese by studying once a week for hours in a row, only able to concentrate during the first 30 minutes.
Rather, study a little Chinese every day. You will experience wonders language-wise, even if you just spend 15-20 minutes a day. Also, do make those minutes count - concentrate and put your brain at work.