March 26


Brain-friendly language learning in 2 steps

By Katharina

March 26, 2017

What we talk about today is no secret to language learning, however, we usually forget to use the huge potential of natural brain activities.

The human brain needs enough time to store new information in the long-term-memory. Also, new synapsis and nerve paths need to be created in order to save the information as skill instead of only knowledge.

The language learning process is always divided into 2 steps:

  1. Understanding
  2. Speaking


Step 1: Understanding a new language

First, you need to learn to understand the new language – words, meanings and the structure. The best way to achieve this is de-coding a language in small parts. Vera F. Birkenbihl, a German scientist and management trainer, recommends a two-line decoding exercise, which can be applied to any foreign text.

Go through the text and translate every single word into your mother tongue (you may also use other foreign languages or even drawings – whatever association comes first!). Use a (online) dictionary in case you are a beginner. Advanced learners should first try to translate the meaning of every word without assistance. Different colors might be used to highlight repeating words, proper names or any connection you find among words and which may help you remembering.

Based on the Birkenbihl Approach by Vera F. Birkenbihl, Brain-Friendly created a language learning program. In this case, text is de-coded already. The learner uses the ready-made two-lined text for a karaoke-like exercise. Listen to the speakers of the foreign language while reading along the de-coding (word-by-word translation). Repeat this exercise until you understand most of the words. As soon as you understand a word, you may click on it to “hide” the translation.

This exercise helps you to not only understand the meaning of the words, but also its usage and the structure (grammar) of the language – all without cramming vocabs or grammar rules! This is intuitive learning.


Step 2: Speaking a new language

In order to speak a new language, another exercise is of utmost importance: Listening to the language. By listening to the text you use in exercise No. 1 in the background – while concentrating on other things – your brain will create and strengthen nerve paths and synapsis. These are needed to speak a foreign language without accent! Each language has another noise, rhythm and melody of speech. Of course these need to be saved in long-term-memory in order to be used correctly. While listening passively to the foreign language, you may clean up your flat, cook, work, sleep or whatever you do during day and night. Your subconscious is listening to the audio even thought you are not concentrating on what you here actively.

Vera F. Birkenbihl recommends listening to the foreign text day and night, for about 10 days. Afterwards, you will be able to speak the language – and confident in using it like a native speaker.

Click here to learn more about Brain-Friendly language courses



About the author

Content Manager and blogger Katharina Rucker has devoted herself to the Birkenbihl Approach for language learning since 2011. Since 2014, she has been working as a freelancer in the field of online marketing: www.rucker-marketing.at

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