I attended an interesting seminar yesterday evening. It was given by José Lázaro MD and Jorge Úbeda PhD.

The speakers started by saying “words are physical”. Neither I nor the rest of the audience fully understood what they meant.

They then asked if we knew roughly how many processes our brains perform every second. No-one knew. The answer is around 10 million. They then asked, of these 10 million processes, roughly how many can we control via our conscious self. The answer, we were told, is a measly 50 or so.

These controllable processes are what we see as us, and they have a direct effect on the remaining millions of processes that we cannot control.

So why are words physical?

A lot of research has been done regarding brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, etc. I published an article a few months back about how learning a second language can slow down the onset of brain deterioration, but until last night, I had no idea that there is a direct correlation between words and our physical self.

The speakers showed us slides where they had run electroencephalograms on people to measure the brain activity that words cause. I didn’t understand half of it but the bottom line was that positive words were beneficial or neutral to the brain’s functioning causing “happy” or neutral thoughts which manifested themselves physically as reducing heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, etc. The results showed a quantifiable, direct link between a positive and negative word and a direct and measurable physical reaction. We aren’t even talking lie-detector questions, these are words like “enthusiastic”“pessimistic”“investigation”, etc. Even physical reactions to “yes” and “no” were different.

Our “self” reacts to the word via the processes we control, which in turn have an effect on the rest of the processes that we do not control. A classic example would be stress induced nausea. Imagine you are called into your boss’s office and told that after 20 years service,“You are fired.” If you are getting close to the age when everyone thinks you are past it, you have a family, mortgage and other financial obligations, your body is going to react. Three words will probably make you feel a bit dizzy, nauseous and physically uncomfortable. Just three words! The exact opposite would be if you were told “You are promoted”. You’d feel light, happy and your face would probably reposition its muscles into a smile before you were aware that it had happened. The difference is one word: “Fired” versus “Promoted”.

Brain studies based on words

We were told that words express thought and that thought and words are inseparably linked. You can’t have one without the other. We speak words, we write words and we think words when we aren’t saying or writing anything. Sometimes we even dream words.

The speakers then showed us extracts of research based on a study of 678 nuns performed by David Snowden. The experiment, called the Nun Study, is considered by experts on ageing to be one of the most innovative efforts to answer questions about who gets Alzheimer’s disease and why. When each nun entered the order she was asked to write up her life story to-date. When, in much later years, a nun passed away, the researchers correlated positive words in the autobiography to the life-span of the nun. They found that there was a relationship between the number of positive words in the autobiographies versus life-span.

More positive words (thoughts and physical reactions) = longer life!!

The conclusion drawn after extensive investigation is:

The Nun Study’s latest published findings offer similarly provocative ideas about how positive emotional state in early life may contribute to living longer. Experts say linking positive emotions in the autobiographies to longer life echoes other studies showing that depression increases risk of cardiovascular disease and that people rated as optimists on personality tests were more likely than pessimists to be alive 30 years later.

They stated that this and other research provides a clear link between our “self” our body and the power that one word can have over it.

They concluded by telling us that we have to manage our words, how we use them, how we receive them and most importantly train our brains to deal with them. Doing this will help stop or reduce the damage that a word can cause to our physical state.

That old saying about turning negatives into positives looks like it is correct. Based on what they said, if we can control words and the physical reactions they cause, we will be happier people and live longer. Not an easy thing to do, but it is worth the effort.

Thanks for reading,

Jim Ross, Director, EBC International TEFL Certificate

Want to learn how to teach English from the experts?

Contact EBC for more information about our accredited English teacher training courses and job placement program.

Contact one of our Student Advisers

Call Us Toll Free

Call us TOLL FREE from the USA, CANADA and UK. If we are closed, leave a message.  We'll call you back. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE! EBC IS OPEN  FROM 9:30 TO 5:30, MONDAY TO FRIDAY. OUR TIME ZONE IS, 6 HOURS AHEAD OF US EAST COAST TIME.
  • USA and Canada call FREE: 1 888 393 4015
All other countries, call (+34) 915 553 975 (not toll free)
Highly Recommended! Everyone is helpful and the course itself was very helpful, especially for people who have no teaching background and would like to change careers.
Cheyenne Albon
08:00 10 Oct 18
I had a good time doing my TEFL here in Madrid with EBC. The classes always started on time with a very realistic approach used to teach. I would recommend people to do TEFL from EBC to learn good ways to teach English and make it fun for students.
gaurav swamy
12:52 05 Oct 18
i learned a lot of strategies in teaching.I took the intensive 1 month course and it was really hard work but it was well worth it. Thanks a lot to our amazing teacher. I was so happy to receive my Certificate.Thanks alot EBC for everything.
lhiz Velasco Cabales
08:27 05 Sep 18
EBC is a wonderful academy. I attended an intensive course to gain my TEFL/TESOL qualification. The teaching was in-depth, covering skills, general and business English, as well as how to teach children and adults. All of this was imparted by our professional guide, John. Thank you to all the staff who went out of their way to be encouraging and helpful. It has been a memorable experience!
Michelle Fernández
18:00 02 Sep 18
Great course with an awesome staff. All aspects of teaching, grammar, finding work and even living in Spain are covered in great detail. Would recommend highly to anyone looking to do their TEFL.
Joe Kemp
12:53 31 Aug 18
Excellent and very comprehensive programme. Our instructor taught us everything we need to know about teaching English. The practice teaching sessions we did are great experience for the real world and I now feel confident that I can teach professionally. Thank you John for your commitment and dedication.
Susi Santorelli
12:03 31 Aug 18
Totally recommend EBC. A thorough course, well worth the money and with highly qualified instructors. I had never taught before taking this course, but the 8 hours teaching practice makes you feel so prepared. They answered every single one of my questions and made me feel confident to make this investment. Don't hesitate taking this course!
Kathryn Royal
11:59 31 Aug 18
Great course! You'll work very hard (it's very intensive) but definitely worth it. I totally recommend it.
Sol Montaser
09:00 27 Jul 18
The class was very good. The instructor John is friendly and very thorough with his classes. William, in the front office, is a joy and is very helpful with all of my course needs. Tita, is very nice and was helpful in explaining different options for working and staying in Madrid.
Jaime Tully
08:59 27 Jul 18
John is a good teacher and he puts efforts inorder to understand your requirements. He teaches you in the right ways, like how to present the language in a simple way, how to keep the motivation on, etc.It´s a intensive course but it´s really worth !!Willam is a good administrator. Thanks for all the help and support. 🙂
Tanya Bhagat
11:41 18 May 18
The course is very intensive but IT IS REALY WORTH! If you are looking for a course that teaches you how to become an English teacher, well this is the best one. You really get the better skills for teaching English at all levels with a clear knowledge about what you are doing. The staff of the course is really nice and helpful. He is a really nice person who helps you whatever you need.Teachers here at really good and they really know how to train you as a English teacher very well.
Dro !
11:24 18 May 18
I am very pleased with my experience at EBC Madrid. Professor John was an amazing mentor that really prepared my classmates and I to teach English. I feel confident going into the job market and finding a teaching job.
Elizabeth Wohlford
15:28 08 Mar 18
EBC Madrid had equipped me with the necessary knowledge and skills I need to be better in teaching. William is so nice and is very accommodating to us students. And, John is the best teacher who can simplify and make the students understand even the most complicated grammatical concept. Kudos!
Anne Marnelli
14:42 08 Mar 18
The course is very intensive but it helps a lot to bring out the best in me. John is an amazing teacher and he is very professional. I'm very thankful for all the guidance and help that I received from EBC. I highly recommend it.
Roxanne A.
14:42 08 Mar 18
The course is really useful. It makes you equipped with the right knowledge, training and attitude. Things you need to have that confidence to go out and face the world as an English teacher. Highly recommended!
Pedi Dela Cruz
14:25 08 Mar 18
This is a great place to get your TEFL certification. The staff is kind, organized and very helpful. It was such a comfortable learning environment that I enjoyed very much. I liked the personalized attention and I got a lot more confidence and experience to be an English teacher. Thanks for everything!
Victoria Metz
10:35 02 Feb 18
I found the instruction throughout the course to be very effective and I finished the course feeling excited and prepared to begin teaching. There is nothing fancy about the EBC facility, however this doesn't in any way reduce the overall quality of the course. John, the instructor, has extensive experience (both as an TEFL teacher and a TEFL course trainer), which is evident in the thoughtful organization of the course. My class had only five students, which created lots of time for personal attention and advice. Make sure you come prepared to work hard!
Adam Schreiber
12:06 14 Dec 17
It was a great and intensive course! I learned and enjoyed this whole learning how to teach experience. Thank you very much for your time and knowledge. I feel well-prepared now. EBC Madrid, 2017.
Michele Buitron
11:57 14 Dec 17
I've just finished my EBC TEFL course. It was a great experience. I definitely recommend this course. John is an amazing teacher and he is very professional. It was just a pleasure. Thank you so much and good luck!
Natalia Egorova
15:04 10 Nov 17
The course has been really useful and the teacher, John, made the classes so much fun and very interesting. It is has been a great experience and has helped me realise how much I really enjoy teaching. It has also been a bit intense at times but I would recommend this course to anyone who would like to become an English teacher.
Natasha Jimenez
20:17 05 Oct 17
Class of August 2017.It's been a busy stressful 4 weeks but I am happy the group and I have all made it and we have TEFL certificates to show for all our hard-work and sleepless nights. Much thanks to our trainer John for his patience and ability to find solutions and guidance to help you find your way and energy throughout the course. EBC international is the best place to learn and share your knowledge of teaching. And for people like me who has no idea how to teach things like grammar and also to learn the grammar...this is the place to be!
Ashley Kabanda
11:14 31 Aug 17

Share this page


WhatsApp chat Click to WhatsApp us