Teaching Adults – Using Brain Research Findings


May, 2023

Learning a new language as an adult can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure how to go about it. Fortunately, recent research in brain and memory science has shed light on some of the most effective techniques for language learning. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of these techniques and how they can be used to teach languages to adults.

1. Start with the basics One of the most important things to keep in mind when teaching languages to adults is to start with the basics. Research shows that language learners need to first develop a foundation of basic vocabulary and grammar before they can move on to more complex concepts. This is because the brain needs to make connections between new information and prior knowledge in order to process and remember it effectively. So, as a language teacher, your first step should be to introduce your students to the most common words and phrases in the language, along with the basic grammar rules. This will help them build a strong foundation that they can then use to build more advanced language skills.  

2. Use spaced repetition
Spaced repetition is a technique that involves reviewing information at intervals that gradually increase over time. Research shows that this technique is highly effective for language learning, as it helps to reinforce new information in the brain and promote long-term memory retention. To use spaced repetition in your language teaching, you can create flashcards or use a language learning app that incorporates spaced repetition algorithms. These tools will help your students review vocabulary and grammar concepts at the optimal intervals for retention.

3. Provide contex
Another key aspect of effective language learning is providing context for new information. This helps the brain make connections between new words and concepts and existing knowledge, which can aid in memory retention. As a language teacher, you can provide context by using authentic materials such as videos, audio recordings, and written texts that use the language in real-world situations. This will help your students see how the language is used in context and make it more relevant and meaningful for them.




“It is literally the case that learning languages makes you smarter. The neural networks in the brain strengthen as a result of language learning.”

– Michael Gove

4. Encourage active learning Research shows that active learning is more effective for memory retention than passive learning. This means that your students should be actively engaged in the language learning process, rather than simply listening or reading passively. To encourage active learning, you can incorporate interactive activities such as role-playing, games, and group discussions into your language lessons. This will help your students practice using the language in real-world situations and reinforce their understanding of the concepts. 5. Use multimedia Finally, research shows that using multimedia can be highly effective for language learning. This includes using audio, video, and other multimedia tools to reinforce new vocabulary and grammar concepts. To incorporate multimedia into your language teaching, you can use language learning apps, podcasts, videos, and other digital tools that incorporate multimedia content. This will help your students engage with the language in multiple ways and reinforce their understanding of the concepts..

In conclusion, teaching languages to adults can be a challenging task, but by incorporating the latest findings in brain and memory research into your teaching methods, you can help your students learn more effectively and efficiently. By starting with the basics, using spaced repetition, providing context, encouraging active learning, and incorporating multimedia, you can create a language learning experience that is engaging, effective, and enjoyable for your students.

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