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Bilingual news and shares about the brain, languages and coaching

Newsletter 16 - Biases

the L in NeuroLanguage Coaching®

I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at” 

― Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Biases affect how you perceive and interact with the world around you. They can also influence how you learn new things such as languages; So let's explore ;-)

  • The L(anguage learning) : in this newsletter, I’ll tell you a bit more about how different types of biases can help or hinder your language learning process.

  • The C(oaching) : In the third and final part of this series, I’ll share some tips and strategies to overcome the negative effects of biases and enhance your learning outcomes.

The human brain's predisposition to form biases can significantly affect language acquisition on so many different levels. Biases concerning ourselves but also other countries, communication, and intercultural interactions will also affect our language learning. 


Let's explore 4 pertinent biases and their implications for language learners - there are 100s of biases, this was a tough choice!


  • Confirmation Bias: looking for, interpreting, favoring, and recalling information in a way that confirms or supports our prior beliefs or values. 

    Example: let's say that you think learning French is hard and you only focus on the challenges - why does everything need to be feminine or masculine? I'll never memorize them all, it's so random. 

    You then look for - subconsciously - proof that French is indeed a difficult language to learn and ignore any proof to the contrary. You might even blame the language for your inability to learn and start hating French, doubt yourself, and quit learning. The culprit for your "inability" to learn is your bias. 


  • Negativity Bias: focusing on and recalling mostly negative feedback or negative experiences compared to positive ones. 

    Example: a typical example is having had a teacher you really didn't like or who said something mean to you. I have a friend whose professor said that her accent was really bad when she spoke French. These very few words that didn't take more than a few seconds to be said had a huge impact: she lost interest and motivation. In fact, my friend never spoke French again until she said a sentence to me once, twenty years later and I noticed out loud how good her accent was. She was shocked and thought I was making fun of her. This is when she told me her story and how after that she focused more on the difficulties of the language, on her mistakes, and her failures. And eventually just gave up. 


  • Einstellung (attitude, mindset) effect: depending on a familiar solution or strategy, even when a better or more efficient one is available. This can limit our creativity and flexibility in solving problems or learning new things.

    Example: In language coaching, I come up against this bias all the time. Language coaching is all about finding a way of learning that works for you. It often means trying things you haven't tried yet, stepping out of your comfort zone, being open to other ways of learning. At the beginning, most of the learners I work with are clueless about what to try. I'll hear things like "maybe you can send me some exercises?". My answer is something along the lines "and how has that worked for you in the past". For 80% of people, it hasn't worked, that's why they come to coaching. To try something different, to try to learn differently. When trying to work on a language on their own, learners often stick to the same method or resource for learning as they always have. They'll step out of that comfort zone when they decide to try a language learning app. That's a great beginning. What else can you try? Step out of your learning comfort zone and don't miss out on other opportunities or approaches that you enjoy, that makes learning fun, that keeps your motivation going.


  • Imposter Syndrome: doubting our skills, talents, or accomplishments and have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as frauds despite external evidence of our competence.

    Example: imposter syndrome is ubiquitous in advanced language learners. I have yet to meet an advanced speaker of English or French who tells me "I'm actually good, I just want to be better". Nope, never happens! What all language learners believe is that they're not as good as everyone says they are. They'd rather not speak it, especially in a professional environment, as their colleagues will "all realize how bad their English is" - that's what they tell themselves. This can lead to self-doubt and anxiety about language learning, hindering their progress. 


  • Anchoring Bias: relying heavily on the first piece of information encountered when making decisions.

    Example: don't let your 1st impressions ruin future learnings for you!


Being aware of the fact that biases exist is in itself a big step towards overcoming them. The next step to not falling prey to them is by identifying and acknowledging our own biases. The final step is taking proactive steps towards overcoming them and that is what we will see in our next newsletter ‘biases and coaching”. 

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Si vous voulez revenir sur mes autres newsletters qui traitent de toutes sortes de sujets fascinants liés au cerveau, au langage, au coaching, je vous suggère d'aller sur la page newsletter de mon site.

N'oubliez pas, si vous connaissez quelqu'un qui serait intéressé par ma newsletter, faites-lui suivre cette newsletter! :-)

Neurolanguage Coaching® is an amazing method that will help you learn a language more efficiently than you've ever experienced before. It brings together findings about how the brain learns bests and integrates these into a coaching process that will put you in charge of YOUR learning journey. As a Coach, I'm  the GPS to your driving. If you want to try it but are not ready to commit, I have a 2H Discovery Offer that might be just what you're looking for. Or we can just have a casual chat about it, just reply to this email.

Good to know

The Neurolanguage Coaching® certification is accredited by the ICF

 La certification est accreditée par la Fédération Internationale de Coaching

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