Nomi Sharan

The good news about improving your English as an adult: neuroplasticity

Your brain is a much more elastic learning machine than you might give it credit for.

Many people explain to me that, sadly, since they didn’t learn to speak English fluently when they were kids, it’s now too hard for them to do, as adults.
And it’s true that children become fluent in a second language much faster than adults.

I have some amazing news, though: Age is NO limitation!!!

People used to believe that the brain becomes fixed after a certain age, but neuroscientists explain that the brain never stops developing, as long as it is presented with the need to learn and change. It’s called Neuroplasticity.

So… If you find yourself feeling exhausted or frustrated after many meetings in English, it actually means that your brain is creating new neural pathways and that you’re going to get better at this if you keep up your repeated efforts.

There are other benefits as well. Challenging your brain this way actually makes you a better person.
In a nutshell – compared to people who speak one language, adults who work on speaking a second language are more likely to:

  • Have higher cognitive flexibility
  • Better understand other people’s points of view (this is huge…)
  • Be better at prioritizing tasks and working on multiple projects at one time

The key is to engage in activities that stimulate you, that you do with focused attention,
and that you repeatedly practice in a positive atmosphere.
It’s called deliberate practice.

That’s why, for example, my coaching methodology involves the following activities:

  • Listening to a podcast in English that really interests you and then presenting your key takeaways
  • Practicing short conversations in relaxed, feel-good contexts that help the nervous system feel secure.
  • Repeating something that another person has said in a different way (paraphrasing) without getting stuck on specific words

These are the kind of activities that accelerate learning and neuroplasticity, help you to immerse yourself in the language and develop new habits, while letting go of bad habits like translating every word or getting anxious when you speak.

Do you need more good news about the brain? Research also shows that this kind of learning will lower the risks for brain aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s when you get older.

Neuroplasticity is an amazing superpower that most of us didn’t even know we had.
Keep demanding more from your brain and it will do its magic. Because as the famous quote goes:
“The day we stop learning is the day we die”.

Watch this short animation to learn more about how it works: