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Your brain dominance and language learning



Some language skills involve analytical, sequential, and left-brain processing. Others involve right-brain skills such as guessing, associating, and getting the main idea.


Obviously, those with bilateral dominance have some advantages.


There are, however, good language learners with both left-brain or right-brain dominance who achieve a high degree of fluency and accuracy. They learn to use both left-brain and right-brain skills depending on what works best for the activity at hand.


Here are some general guidelines to follow when you use your brain dominance for language learning:

  • Use your left-brain analytical skills to determine the purpose of a learning activity or to set up the activity. Once you are involved in the activity, put most of your attention on the content of the message and let your right-brain go to work.
  • According to James Asher, author of the Total Physical Response method, direct association methods for building listening comprehension rely more on right-brain processing than on left brain processing. Do not consciously try to figure out every detail when using these methods. Let your subconscious do the work.
In this module group
  Here are the modules on using your brain dominance for language learning:

Here are some warnings about using your brain dominance for language learning:

  • Analytical thinkers who make good linguists sometimes never acquire communicative fluency in a second language because their left-brain, sequential processing slows them down.
  • Right-brained, global thinkers sometimes become quite fluent in comprehending and expressing themselves in a second language, but never become truly accurate. They are content to get across the main idea without worrying about the details.
See also
  To see how other aspects of your learning style can be used to your advantage, see

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 15 September 1998

© 1999 SIL International