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10 tips from neuroscience to learn a language faster

Neuroscience is a branch of biology that is responsible for studying the brain, what it does , and how it works. One of the aspects studied in neuroscience is the acquisition of language. All of the discoveries in this field have helped us better understand this process and they have assisted us in developing techniques to apply, when learning a language. Would you like to find out what they are?

1. Use context where necessary

There is a very popular saying which says: “necessity is the mother of invention.” What this saying basically means is that, when we are out of our comfort zone, we learn much faster than usual and our brain works more efficiently. For example: if you were traveling abroad and needed to make yourself understood when ordering food from a waiter in a restaurant. You do not need to take a fly to another part of the world in order to put your mental skills to the test. There are abundant educational resources and games which can be used to test your skills, challenge you, and make you step out of your comfort zone.

2. Repeat

Repetition is the oldest method of learning in the world, and one of the most effective (it is also one the preferred methods in the world of marketing and advertising). The repetition of content activates certain areas of the brain in charge of processing and storing information. An example of this type of learning would be to watch a movie with subtitles in your language, then to watch it again with English subtitles and finally again, without subtitles.

3. Listen to music and watch films

Speaking of watching films, several studies, including one at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain), have shown that watching films in the original language, with subtitles in the original language, improves learning ability, It helps to identify sounds by hearing them being pronounced by different characters and seeing them written on the screen. It is also fun watching films to learn a new language!

4. Use the language

It may seem really obvious, but you have to practice speaking the language. Whether alone or with a speaking partner, who is native or experienced; the key is to get used to generating logical and understandable dialogues in the language, and to learn to speak fluently and correctly with other people.

5. Less is more

It has been scientifically proven that it is more effective to learn and memorise in short sessions of a maximum 30-40 minutes, than to spend hours going over the same material. In addition, dividing the study material into smaller sections is one of the simplest tricks to assimilate content.

6. Use your imagination

Yes, use your imagination! Imagine you are in another country and you have a stomach ache. How would you ask a taxi driver to take you to the nearest hospital? What would you tell the nurse in the emergency room? How would you explain your symptoms to the doctor? Without the pressure of being in a real situation, you have time to go over new vocabulary, grammar and expressions, which you may have to use in certain real life situations, whether it be at the hospital, a restaurant, or a hotel.

7. Alternate between active and passive learning

When learning a new language it’s beneficial to use a combination of active and passive methods. Passive methods could include: watching films, listening to music or singing. You may also like to learn more actively: writing sentences to learn vocabulary, searching for information on the internet or practicing your pronunciation aloud, etc. All of these methods are great!

8. Watch and listen at the same time.

Another way to stimulate your brain when it comes to learning vocabulary is by combining your learning with imagery (ie learning the word “mountain” while you look at a picture of a mountain). You can use flashcards for this purpose, or search for images on the internet. The more stimuli you give your brain, the better it will store information.

9. Gesticulation

A study by the Max Planck Institute of Neurology and Cognitive Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, showed that when certain phrases or words are pronounced together with a corresponding gesticulation, the meaning is more easily understood. Look at how native speakers gesticulate, whether in real life or in movies.

10. Laughing

Have you noticed that children are always laughing? Various studies have shown that laughter makes us more receptive and helps us learn faster. Start watching your favorite English comedies and learn whilst having a laugh!

Did you know that the effectiveness of ABA English has also been proven in several independent studies? (link to Efficacy Study?) 71.4% of the students who participated in the study, advanced at least one level in just one semester. As has been demonstrated by neuroscience, film-based learning is effective and easy for a language learner. If you’d like to improve your English skills, check out the full ABA course and take advantage of the great content available.

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About Brandon

Brandon
Brandon has been teaching ESL students for over 12 years and has taught in India, Cambodia, Brazil and Spain. In his free time, he enjoys writing music, playing his guitar and travelling.

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