After training as a hypnotherapist, Patrick Louart, director of Ermes Solutions in Pau introduced hypnosis as a teaching option a year ago.
“It works because in the hypnotic state, the unconscious mind is not distracted by outside stimuli, anxiety or fear of making a mistake, but is hyper-concentrated on the lesson,” he said.
“As well as remembering vocabulary and sentence structure more easily, it also helps with pronunciation, as the facial muscles which have to work in different ways to produce new sounds remember the new shapes more easily if learnt in this way.
“We also make sure it is a pleasurable experience and have noticed that students come to enjoy using the language they are working on and are keen to continue studying outside the classroom.”
Mr Louart said each lesson lasts three hours: “For the first hour, the language teacher works with the student, often in a conversational style. In the second hour I will take 10 to 20 minutes putting the person into a state of hypnosis.
“The language teacher then continues the lesson, and at the end of the third hour I will spend half an hour working to anchor what the student has learnt in their memory and disperse any blockages they might have, such as fear of speaking. At least four sessions are necessary to make any difference.”
The type of hypnosis he uses is the kind used by doctors in hospitals for therapy.
“This is not fairground hypnosis,” he said. “We need to get away from the idea that it is something alarming.
“However, it is not anodyne and I have decided not to use a soundtrack of myself, but to be present at each occasion.”
This puts the price up, so lessons cost €85 an hour but Mr Louart is convinced it is more efficient than classic methods.
Lessons are available in English, Italian and Spanish, and he says he will consider French lessons for English-speakers if they already have a good enough level to be hypnotised in French.