Interesting research from the University of Washington, who wired up 19 volunteers to check out what their brains did while resting, and whether their brain patterns predicted language learning.

OK, so 19 people is not a big sample, but the research is interesting. It may be used to direct government-sponsored language learning to those who are predisposed to learn quicker, or to do brain exercises with slower learners to help them develop the brain patterns that will help them learn languages.

The 19 volunteers, aged 18 to 31, sat for five minutes with their eyes closed while wearing an EEG (electroencephalogram) headset, which recorded their brain activity. Then all of them took part in 8 hours of French language training.

None of the participants had any previous experience of learning French. The language training programme allowed them to work at their own pace, and they had to reach a set level on progress tests before moving to the next lesson. This allowed the researchers to assess how quickly each of them was learning.

At the end of the French language programme, each language learner completed a proficiency test covering the lessons they had completed. The fastest learner had learned just as well as the slower learners, but had picked up French twice as quickly.

Lead researcher Chantel Prat said: “Our results show that 60 percent of the variability in second language learning was related to brain patterns — that leaves plenty of opportunity for important variables like motivation to influence learning”.

In addition, Prat said it’s possible in the future to use “neurofeedback training to help everyone perform at their best.” People who do not have the most desirable brain patterns would do brain training exercises first, and then do the language programme.

We don’t have the EEGs at la Academia to measure your brain patterns, but we do have the expert teachers to help you learn French (or German, Spanish, Chinese and many other languages). Even if you’re not the quickest learner our patient and experienced teachers can help you – no brain scans needed! Contact us to learn more 0161 491 1444 or