Adults usually find learning a foreign language very difficult. Their brain has lost the plasticity that you encounter in children’s brain. However, there is more hope as new research reveals that adults can build new neuropathways.

Anyway, why do some people have trouble learning languages?

First let’s have a look at the adult brain.

Don’t worry, I won’t transform this in an anatomy lecture for medical students.

Various research suggests that there is a predisposition for success or failure when language learning is concern. Our brain unique wiring takes an important part in the outcome.

In another study, researchers found a correlation between connections involving brain centres responsible for reading and speaking and better performance, in a group of students who underwent an intensive 12-week French course.

Even though these results suggest a predisposition to do better or worse according to your brain wiring, I personally believe that the main reasons for failure or success are linked to other factors that we will discuss here.

Motivation is linked to achievement in language learning.


It is well known to us that when starting our journey with a new language, we are all exited and willing to learn. But, as time goes by, this enthusiasm fizzles out. Why is that?

There might be a failure to properly assess the reasons why the learner-to be wishes to study the language. Students fail to have a clear idea of the gains and/or loses of committing/ not committing fully to the process.

Most of the time students have unrealistic expectations about the learning process. They don’t expect to encounter hurdles and setbacks. They don’t understand that consistent effort is mandatory, and they end up frustrated and abandoning all together.

Another cause of lack of motivation is failure of choosing the right materials. Consequently the learning activities are perceived as non relevant.

Finally, when students lose sight of the outcome they are pursuing - or when the outcome becomes irrelevant due to change of their circumstances – motivation goes quickly out of the window.

Motivation is linked to achievement in language learning.

Motivation favours achievement and at the same time achievement boosts motivation. It is imperative though, to have a realistic view of what language studies entail, because a “poor understanding of the objectives of the learning process, may reduce the will to succeed” (Dickinson 1987)

In summary, motivation is linked to:

The degree of interest of the student to the process of learning.

The expectation of the student regarding success and failure.

The perceived relevance of the learning activity to their needs and aspirations.

The outcome (rewards, achievements).

Time is a big issue for most people learning a foreign language.


Time is a big issue for the people I usually coach. They are very busy professionals and they fail to find some vacancy during the day to accommodate their language study. They don’t realise that this should not be a problem. They might not have one straight hour, but fifteen, thirty minutes here and there can be rescued for a language activity.

Spending time with the language

Attending a language class one hour a week won’t be enough for progression. It is necessary to spend time with the language outside the classroom or the online course. You should look for opportunities to listen to the language in its natural habitat – spoken by natives -, reading and speaking it even though this entails speaking to yourself. This is the only way to start noticing the nuances of the language and to get familiar to it.

If you spend time with the language, your brain will get used to it and you will start noticing patterns and nuances without much effort.

The books and courses are necessary, as you’re able to get quickly acquainted to the basics of the language, but they are not all if you want to reach fluency.

Don’t be frustrated when you make mistakes. This is part of it all. Mistakes are your best teachers.

Believe in yourself. You can do it!

Confidence or the lack of it.

Believe in yourself. Trust that you can get the results you are pursuing because others have done it, so it’s feasible. Believe that there are no limits to your potential: age, ethnicity, background, education etc., nothing can stop you if you don’t want it to.

Incorporate pleasurable activities and these are the things that you would read, do and listen to in your own language.

Remember, YOU CAN DO IT!

If you need help in crossing the finish line, check my coaching packages or if you enjoy self study get the “build your language learning plan for success” workshop.