Brain plasticity and second language learning. How does your brain affect language learning?

Brain plasticity and second language learning. How does your brain affect language learning?

Brain plasticity and second language learning. Don’t give up on learning a language! How does your brain affect language learning?

By Michele Pinhati-Sanders, 2018

These days, it is expected that most people speak or will be able to speak a foreign/second language, so they can be part of a global society. In addition, it is also a fact that many of us travel to other countries where the national language is different to our own. More and more people are choosing to complete their studies in different countries, marry people from other cultures or spend a considerable amount of time living in different parts of the world. For this reason, I ask you “How about the language?”, “Will you really be able to learn a foreign language as an adult?” The answer is brain plasticity.

What is brain plasticity? According to neurologist and educator Judy Willis, neuroplasticity is how our brain organises or compartments information, so it can retrieve it later as part of ideas or thoughts. This means that every activity that we do in life, we are learning from it, making new connections inside our brains, as in the group of neurons that are being fired together and building new pathways inside our brains. So, what does it all mean? It means that the more we practice a new activity or concept, the more proficient we can become at it. Furthermore, this new pathway inside our brains becomes more predominant the more we use it. Building knowledge and learning something new can be applied to all of us independently of our intelligence quotient or I.Q. As it is believed by common adage “practice makes it perfect”.

Another point previously considered in relation to accurate language learning was how a superior I.Q. affected language learning. In this situation, a study performed by Genesse (2006) in Canada with three different groups of different age brackets proved that although a higher I.Q. will help with higher academic achievement, students who practiced the focus language became as proficient as the high I.Q. ones. Again, it is proven that once a person really decides to practice the language, they will be able to learn it – “practice makes perfect”.

In conclusion, our brain is always learning by being exposed to new experiences in everyday life, hence we all can learn if we really want to. As it has been said above, the more we practice a skill, the stronger the path will be “built” inside our brains. For this reason, if we really want to be fluent in a new language, all we need to do is to practice it as much as we can.