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An Interview With Rachel Paling - Creator Of Neurolanguage Coaching®

Brainz Magazine Exclusive Interview


Rachel Marie Paling is an International Game Changer in Education, in particular, the education of languages. She has created the method and approach Neurolanguage Coaching which incorporates professional coaching and principles of neuroscience into the learning process. She coaches and trains teachers worldwide, transforming them into certified and ICF accredited Neurolanguage coaches and has created the Neurolanguage Coach network with over 1000 NL Coaches in just over 74 countries worldwide and is now bringing the approach to schools and institutions over the world through her licensed trainers and in eleven languages. Rachel started teaching language at the age of 17 and has a BA Honours in Law and Spanish, MA in Human Rights, she is a qualified UK lawyer, MA in Applied Neuroscience and a PCC ICF Life Coach. She is the author of the books Neurolanguage Coaching and Brain-friendly Grammar and has written numerous blog articles about learning, coaching and neuroscience. She has spoken at many international conferences and her company was awarded the Bronze Award at the Reimagine Education Awards 2019 in the Science in Education category, She is dedicated to the shift in education and is currently establishing an educational foundation to bring coaching, neuroscience and heart science into educational processes.

Photo of Rachel Paling

You’re a Professional Certified Coach, Corporate & Private Language Coach, Neuroscientist, Author & Keynote Speaker, and the creator of Neurolanguage Coaching®. Can you tell us more about your work and how you ended up where you are today?

How did I get here? Now that is a really interesting question – you know nothing was planned, but when I look back I can really join the dots, as Steve Jobs said, and I clearly see how everything was a step by step build up to where I am at this point in time. I even remember as a child creating a school lineup with my dolls and teddies in the playroom and playing the teacher. At school, I loved languages, although I never felt I was good enough to be a linguist. In fact, I became a polyglot by chance. My thirst and curiosity for languages increased, from French, ancient Latin and Greek at school, to teaching myself Spanish at the age of 15, to immersion learning of Catalan, German and Italian by living in those countries and now dipping my toes into Russian, with dabblings into modern Greek, Arabic and Chinese and the fervent desire to grasp all of these over the next years. The ever-present factors in my life were languages and teaching. Even when I had my own business at 23 and later I was studying for ten years to become a qualified lawyer, I continued teaching in the background.

In the year 2000, I was in Germany doing an MA in Human Rights and at the same time was working full time in a business language school which belonged to an amazing Scotsman called Jim. Jim introduced me to the concept of “language coaching” and that is when I began to work as a language coach. However, back then there was no clarity between being a language teacher or being a language coach, so I decided to journey into the world of professional coaching to really understand the differences between teacher and coach. I took various courses in psychology and CBT, and also coaching with the former Results Coaching System created by David Rock, now called Brain-Based coaching. From this, I then went on to become an ACC and then PCC credentialed coach with the International Coach Federation and continued my research into neuroscience and neuropsychology relating to language learning and education obtaining two additional MA degrees in these topics.

My company Efficient Language Coaching was born in 2008. From 2000 to 2012 my work as a language coach with business professionals, private learners, university students etc, triggered more and more insights relating to language learning and step by step it started to come together as a new concept that incorporates professional coaching as well as neuroscientific principles plus emotional intelligence and neuropsychology. One of the greatest challenges for science today is to actually incorporate, embody and implement "the science" in practical terms, but in a very simplistic way, moving away from complicated scientific jargon to easily understandable language for all teachers, educators and learners to understand. And that is exactly what Neurolanguage coaching® does. In 2012, I crystallised the concept and the year after, I started to train language teachers worldwide with my certification programme, the first worldwide language teacher coaching course with the accreditation of the International Coach Federation. Now, nearly ten years down the line, we have just hit the 1000th Neurolanguage Coach® worldwide, which is a phenomenal milestone for us all and I know that these coaches are really positively impacting their learners.

Can you explain to our readers what Neurolanguage Coaching® is?

Neurolanguage Coaching is about transforming language educators, by providing them with the knowledge and tools to come into a “brain-friendly” approach to language teaching, leading to a potentially faster and more efficient way of learning a new language. How do we do this?

Well, firstly, we incorporate elements from professional coaching, namely the goal and action setting; focus on motivation, commitment and empowerment of coachees; instilling the ethics and standards; constantly using coaching conversations, models and techniques. In this way, we can transform how educators communicate and transfer their knowledge in a learning environment.

Secondly, we implement neuroscientific principles from research, plus emotional intelligence and neuropsychology into that learning process. In other words, we infuse the learning with metacognition and we do this in three ways.

  1. By adapting the process to reflect the research, so everything we do has a scientific reason and justification to it. For example, getting learners to set their own goals is based on the research showing that when people do that, they are much more likely to achieve them.

  2. The coach opportunely shares information about how the brain learns, reacts and functions with the learners, in easily comprehensible language according to the level and age of the learner.

  3. Through our constant awareness of the power of words and patterns of communication. For example, non-directive language to avoid emotional triggers or “provoking” to assist scaffolding and building on previous knowledge as well as selecting positive words and in particular, how we formulate questions to stimulate connections.

Thirdly, Neurolanguage Coaching offers a new process for language learning with a distinctly hallmarked first session with a coachee, creating a personalised roadmap, based on mechanical and mastery goals and a unique conversation regarding motivation and commitment. Ongoing sessions are high powered with a full focus on cost-effectiveness and achieving results so that learners feel their learning progress much more than they normally would.

I have written two books about this concept: the first called Neurolanguage Coaching and the second Brain-Friendly Grammar.

Have you encountered any major challenges during your journey and how have these affected you?

You know, I am fascinated with the brain. How I wish that I had understood myself more throughout my life and in particular through those school years. Over these last 20 years, I have learnt so much and now I can honestly say that I fully comprehend thought patterns, behavioural patterns and how the brain functions, learns and reacts, through the studies and insights that all the knowledge has given me. I remember speaking at a conference in Brno, Czech Republic about 5 years ago and asking the audience “what is the reason we do not talk more about the brain?” and one brave soul out of 200 said, “because it is scary”. Personally, I think the biggest battle we all have in life is with ourselves, not with others. Mastering our own self, managing our own brain is our greatest challenge and mission. Now, I finally feel that I am at peace with my brain, at peace with myself and also curious and thirsty to continue learning and developing even after hitting half a century on earth. How much more can I learn? How much more can I do? How much more can I help and serve, especially the younger ones, to help them manage themselves in the most optimal way to affront the challenges of today´s world.

Photo of Rachel Paling

Can you give our readers 3 tips on how to become a good speaker?

  1. Definitely, the first tip is to nurture quiet confidence. And I mean quiet, because sometimes confidence can come across as arrogance or overconfident and it is about striking that balance of quietly confident with assertive.

  2. Secondly, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The more we do something, the more it becomes normalised for the brain and the brain creates the habit of doing it. This is where we can learn from actors who go over their words in the script thousands of times, repetition and spaced repetition are key.

  3. Thirdly, elocution lessons or coaching sessions can really help pronunciation and enunciation, practising the rhythm, speed, tone and accentuation of texts. I really am extremely grateful that one of my hobbies as a child was, in fact, theatre and dance. I regularly took part in amateur dramatic productions and it trained me to speak, act and dance in public. That training has been a godsend throughout my life and I strongly recommend all children to experience theatre and the stage.

Is there something special that keeps you motivated?

Oh yes! The hidden passion and fire throughout all these years have always been to become a social entrepreneur. Finally last year, through all the ups and downs and legal mazes, I was able to fulfil my dream of setting up an educational foundation, together with my business partner Gary Houlton and Efficient Language Coaching, which we have christened the Neuroheart Educational Foundation. Through this foundation the vision and mission is to bring teacher training with a difference: teacher training focused on heart science, emotional intelligence, brain science, coaching, management of emotions for children, yoga for kids and in general teacher training with a difference to arm teachers with the knowledge to really help the children of today. Additionally, we would like to bring homeschooling and remote schooling to children that really need it and through these programmes we wish to give work to teachers worldwide to deliver teacher training and homeschooling. In this way, we would be creating an infinity symbol, providing work and giving service: the eternal flow of both.

What makes you feel ‘out of your comfort zone?’ How do you handle these types of situations?

I am smiling because a few years ago in August 2018 I did a 31-day brain Vlog, where every single day I challenged my brain in some way or another. In August 2019, I did a brain/body Vlog challenge and since those experiences, I am constantly looking out for “comfort zone challenges”. This year 2021, I definitely feel I have broken my personal records relating to exercising, now I am up to about 90 minutes per day either swimming, running, or dancing plus early morning yoga between 20-60 minutes and also daily 45-90 minute meditations.This summer I broke my fasting record and did a 12 week fast on juicing and smoothies and honestly never felt so good in my life. It rebooted my whole system and most of the summer I experienced the sensation of the “bliss state” nearly every single day. It was phenomenal!

Interestingly, when I find myself in “challenging moments”, I now find myself becoming the “observer” of brain and body.

Then I try to catch myself and shift reaction into conscious action. Am I always successful? No! I am still the child learning to walk, but definitely, I am improving, every catch is a notch higher towards self-mastery.

So, what’s the next big goal or project for Rachel Paling and how can someone get in contact with you?

Well, two great projects in fact. Expanding Neurolanguage Coaching® through our phenomenal licensed teacher trainers means that now we are delivering Neurolanguage Coaching® training in 11 different languages all across the world and hope to bring this method and approach more and more into schools and educational systems, totally disrupting how languages are taught in school.

The second big goal is to birth and launch the Neuroheart Education foundation more and more, creating a worldwide ripple of Neuroheart Education, taking neuroeducation one step beyond 21st-century learning. Harnessing the educators of today with the skills to bring brain, heart and compassion into learning.

The foundation will be a co-creation space for any interested educators who wish to bring in “the change”, so do contact me if you are one of those passionate educational catalysts of change.

My greatest vision is that when multitudes of teachers/educators transform, they will be the powerhouses that shift the educational systems across the world.

For more info, follow Rachel on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and visit her website!



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