Psychological flow is kind of like going on autopilot, or being completely immersed in an activity, and is also related to high performance levels. I was reading about flow in music, but it reminded me of language learning and the input hypothesis: feeling awkward, self-conscious, or even bored while learning a language raises an affective filter and inhibits learning effectiveness.

Is there any research demonstrating the presence of such a mental state in the context of L2 communication?

Also, is there research to support a connection between flow and language competency? Can such a state of mind be taught/learned?

1 Answer 1


K. Anders Ericsson, the father of deliberate practice and expert on learning, pretty much destroys flow as a good learning method in this article.

It is clear that skilled individuals can sometimes experience highly enjoyable states (‘‘flow’’ as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) during their performance. These states are, however, incompatible with deliberate practice, in which individuals engage in a (typically planned) training activity aimed at reaching a level just beyond the currently attainable level of performance by engaging in full concentration, analysis after feedback, and repetitions with refinement.


The commonly held but empirically unsupported notion that some uniquely “talented” individuals can attain superior performance in a given domain without much practice appears to be a destructive myth that could discourage people from investing the necessary efforts to reach expert levels of performance.

In short, aim to implement deliberate practice in your language learning life, not flow.

  • KA Ericsson's work seems to discredit the idea of "flow" as a tool for language learning. It definitely does if language learning can be viewed as learning a skill in the same way that the skills he researches are.
    – kGdmioT
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 8:13

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