Brain-friendly learning: Discovering, not cramming

The way children also learn

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Brain friendly learning: 6 principles from the Birkenbihl method

First input, then output

The brain has to be prepared for talking. Just like with children. One of the most important elements of the Birkenbihl method: immersion, that is, immersing yourself in the language and listening, listening, listening like children. Languages can then be learned quickly, just as children do.

Experience stories

Fiction is the mind’s flight simulator. We train for critical situations by experiencing them in story.” These are the words of Keith Oatley, professor of cognitive psychology, in the book Tell Me! Wie Sie mit Storytelling überzeugen (How to convince with storytelling) by Thomas Pyczak. It’s the same principle when you want to learn a language.

Be involved with all your senses

Reading a story and listening to it at the same time. This increases memory by 60 percent compared to just seeing/reading or hearing. That’s why videos are so effective. They are a great way to learn a language.

Discover, don’t cram

Anyone who wants to learn languages according to Birkenbihl will quickly learn this rule of thumb: Grammar rules don’t allow you to talk! This is because they are stored in an area of the brain that is not activated when you speak. It’s also the reason why we don’t cram or memorize grammar at NELA. Instead, we discover, which means we can easily recall it.

Always a real-life situation

First the real-life situation that you have to deal with. Then the words and grammar you need for it. Not the other way around, if you want to learn to talk. In real life, no one talks the way it’s written in the grammar book. That’s what we call: simply learning the language!

Small bites, not large chunks

The brain needs daily stimuli to learn a skill. Entertaining, doable challenges that are associated with positive feelings in the brain. That’s how anyone can learn a language.


Brain-friendly language learning online – the heart of NELA

The concept of our online language courses is based on the findings of many experts in the field of language learning and neuroscience. We have merged the most effective elements into a successful concept to learn languages easily and quickly.

  • NELA videos and checkpoints: Decode texts

  • Decoding texts means translating texts word for word. An important element taken from Vera F. Birkenbihl’s method that helps beginners in particular to discover the structure of a new language.

  • NELA learning route: Harnessing the power of mirror neurons

  • Mirror neurons were discovered by Prof. Giacomo Rizzolatti and his team (University of Parma). We prepare our brain to speak by first listening and observing how others master the skill – that’s what the NELA learning route is for.

  • NELA lessons: Stir emotions

  • Our brain loves stories, and it can easily recall anything that is part of a story. That’s why our lessons are structured as an ongoing story.

  • NELA app training: Repetition in the right dose

  • Our brain can only permanently store new things if they are repeated often enough. Here, for example, molecular biologist John Medina was an inspiration to us. In his book Brain Rules he explains how much repetition the brain needs for successful learning.

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Zwei Personen die gehirngerechte eine Sprache lernen nach wissenschaftlich geprüften und effektiven Konzepten
Zwei Personen die gehirngerechte eine Sprache lernen nach wissenschaftlich geprüften und effektiven Konzepten

Our promise: Fun and success

Brain-friendly learning in practice

You might regret never trying to learn a language with NELA. We don’t promise miracles. But we do promise fun and success in language learning because you’ll learn the way your brain likes it best.

Logo der NELA - New Language Academy

Why do our students love

the NELA learning route?

Because your language coach is always with you.

Without your teacher there would be no successful learning route.

“I love the feeling of, ‘Wow, I can do it!’ The learning route helps me with it.” (Noemi Rowinski)

Where does that confidence come from? Your language teacher prepares you to speak in live lessons. He or she wants your live lesson to be a successful experience because you go into the lesson warmed up, so to speak: you’ve already practiced everything in the stations along your learning route. No miracles, just bit by bit. This is brain-friendly learning.


This is how each NELA lesson is structured

Each lesson is structured as a learning route with 5 stations. The learning route is supported by live lessons, which you can book flexibly.

The NELA Video

Through your private learning chat, you get a video that tells you a story. It is a story with a visual aid because you can read what is being said. Then your teacher sends you exercises to see how much of the story you understood. Using text and audio messages, your teacher gives you feedback and motivates you to keep practicing.

The NELA Audio Clip

You get the story from the video as an audio, so without visual aids. Then your teacher sends you exercises to see how much you can reproduce. Your teacher gives you feedback and motivates you to keep practicing.

The NELA Checkpoint: Grammar explanations

You’ll receive fun, simple explanations of the grammar used in the story. Then your teacher sends you exercises to help you see how much of what you’ve learned so far you can apply yourself. Your teacher will give you feedback in your chat and motivate you to keep practicing.

NELA Tips & Tricks

You learn to speak like native speakers. It’s about understanding typical expressions and using them yourself.

Vocabulary training and pronunciation exercises

In the last station you will repeat all the vocabulary of the lesson. Your teacher will give you special exercises to train your pronunciation. The brain needs a certain number of repetitions before it associates new words with old ones or classifies them as “noteworthy.”

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Learning a language and staying permanently motivated without any bouts of frustration – how do you do that? You need to understand and use the secret power of plateau phases. What are plateau phases? Unlike knowledge, we learn skills in phases: The learning curve is like an ascending staircase. Each step is a plateau phase. We feel like we’re not making progress. But the opposite is true. Your brain consolidates what you’ve learned. It’s building your fluency. So don’t be frustrated, be grateful! And look forward to the next step up!

  • You’ll keep getting tips like this from us in your NELA learning route (Station: Checkpoint).

    If you stay motivated, you’ll learn more, and it will be easier!

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Frau nimmt Betrachter an die Hand genauso wie Gehirngerechtes Lernen zum Sprachenlernen motiviert
Frau nimmt Betrachter an die Hand genauso wie Gehirngerechtes Lernen zum Sprachenlernen motiviert

This is what our customers say:


Kristin H.

“Extremely flexible, individual, brilliant!”


Tina H.

“Feels like I have friends on the other side of the world.”


Yannick B.

“Mega motivating, simply because there’s someone on the other end waiting for your answer.”


Salome K.

“I’ve never been able to learn a new language so well, even though language learning is very difficult for me!”


Daniel R.

“Through the regular messages, you will always be reminded to use the language. Without feeling obligated.”


Annemieke G.

“I learned such an incredible amount in just 4 weeks!”


Judith W.

“You are in the language – as if in another world.”


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