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Vision For An Efficient Autonomous Language Learning (EALL)– Interview With Andrea Polverini

Andrea Polverini is an Italian national currently based in Spain where he runs his online business under the name "pa Language Coaching".

Through pa Language Coaching he offers Neurolanguage Coaching for learners of Italian, English and Spanish, Life Coaching for Italian, English and Spanish speakers and Subtitling services from English and Spanish into Italian.

He carries out his work with the deep conviction that we can all learn, once we are aware of our own uniqueness as human beings, and learn to value and use our own abilities and intelligence.

Andrea Polverini, Neurolanguage Coach®, Life Coach and Subtitling Specialist

Who’s Andrea Polverini?

I'm an Italian national currently living in Elche, Spain, where I run my online business under the name "pa Language Coaching".

Through pa Language Coaching, I offer Neurolanguage Coaching® for learners of Italian, English and Spanish, Life Coaching for Italian, English and Spanish speakers and subtitling services from English and Spanish into Italian.

I’m a passionate language learner myself. My working languages are Italian, my mother tongue, English and Spanish. I’ve also reached various levels of fluency in languages, such as French, Valencian and German, and have recently started learning Hungarian.

However, my passion for learning doesn't stop at languages. Learning to play the bass guitar is just another example of all the learning I've done throughout my life.

I see learning as a never-ending process of self-development that can be lifelong. Learning should be a positive and enriching experience, and what drives me personally and professionally is to understand how to do it more effectively, more quickly and with as much joy and happiness as possible.

How did you become a Neurolanguage Coach®?

My professional career has gone through several stages. I started out as a teacher of English in 1998 and Italian in 2003, then became an audiovisual translator specialising in subtitling in 2009, and finally a Neurolanguage Coach®, who is currently working towards his first ICF certification as a Life Coach, in 2021.

During my 15 years of experience as an English and Italian teacher in language schools, I noticed that the methodology normally used in language learning was only effective for some learners. As a result, many would stop learning the language after coming to the conclusion that they weren’t good at it.

In addition, language learning was usually seen as a tedious task, compared to the study of other school subjects such as maths, chemistry or science.

Finally, the whole process wasn't easily measurable. One day you would suddenly understand that you had made some progress, even if you were unaware of what had made a difference to you and how long it had taken you to get there.

The revolution in the world of language learning that began with the turn of the century gave me even more food for thought.

The internet, language learning apps, YouTube videos, Facebook groups had made a lot of free and paid content available to language learners. Although I felt that language learners might feel lost in all this abundance, it didn't seem necessary to rely solely on books and face-to-face language courses in one's own country or abroad.

There were more online language courses than ever before. The number of language teachers advertising on language learning platforms had increased exponentially.

More and more revolutionary methods for fast and effective language learning were being advertised online.

This scenario made me think and reflect on what I was doing as a language teacher.

The way I had been taught to do my job by established teacher training institutions sometimes clashed with my philosophy, beliefs and values. I felt a sense of contradiction within myself that I couldn't put my finger on. Something just didn't feel right.

I had also become aware of the fact that even though I considered myself an expert in language teaching, I knew very little about how the brain works when it learns a language. I was simply applying a set of methods that I had acquired mainly through my training as an English teacher and through experience, convinced that this was the only way to learn a language. However, these techniques didn't always work – or didn't always work for everyone.

The turning point on a personal and professional level was in 2019, the day I came across the Efficient Language Coaching website, which proposed a methodology called Neurolanguage Coaching®. It didn't take me long to grasp that I had finally found something truly different. From that day on, I began training to become a Neurolanguage Coach® and fully embraced its principles.

What is Neurolanguage Coaching® and how does it differ from traditional language teaching?

Neurolanguage Coaching® combines coaching techniques and principles with neuroscience to make language learning faster and more effective.

For me, these are not only three of its most distinctive features, but also what most sets this methodology apart from traditional language teaching.

Reason and Motivation – The Neurolanguage Coaching® process begins by identifying the client's reason for learning and, through a process of visualisation, their motivation. The motivation for learning equals the function of petrol for a car engine. Clients are asked to summarise this in a single sentence, which are reminded of and use as a life-saver when things get difficult during the learning process.

Specific Goals – Neurolanguage Coaching® teaches us to work towards very specific small goals to make learning measurable and progress tangible. Each session is divided into mechanical and mastery goals. The mechanical goals relate to the structure of the language, while the mastery goals relate to how we use the language. The two goals activate different parts of the brain. One involves reflection on how language works, which takes place when working on mechanical goals, while the other involves the use of language that isn’t filtered by constant thinking, which is instead encouraged during the mastery goal stage of the session.

PACT PQC – A coaching model called PACT PQC (Placement, Assessment, Conversation, Teach, Powerful Questions, Clarification) is used to help clients achieve their mechanical and mastery goals. This model implies the active role of the coachee in the learning process and helps to train them to take full responsibility for their learning.

A Non-Directive style – The style used during a Neurolanguage Coaching® session is completely non-directive. Coachees are helped to find their own motivation and goals. It’s up to the client to decide which mechanical or mastery goal to start with, how much time is needed to achieve a goal, what actions to take and how often to meet. In this way, clients become accustomed to taking full responsibility for their own learning.

The Contribution of Neuroscience – Neuroscience tells us how the human brain works when learning a language. It’s used to make coachees aware of the mechanisms that may be hindering their ability to learn. By gaining a better understanding of the latter and recognising that they are common to most of us, clients have a better chance of doing something about them. A typical example is the fight-flight-or-freeze response, which is triggered by a situation that our brains perceive as potentially threatening. Our brains don't know the difference between a real or imagined threat, and whenever danger is perceived, it prepares for action, preventing the normal functioning of our prefrontal cortex, which plays a key role in language learning. This mechanism, which we want to keep under control because it doesn't benefit learning, can be triggered whenever clients feel under pressure, questioned, judged or simply lost during a language session. This is exactly why, for example, during a Neurolanguage Coaching® session, the coach constantly uses signposting and asks for permission. Signposting allows clients to know where they’re at each stage of the learning process, while permission requests are used to put them in the driver's seat, empowered, free to choose and fully responsible for their own learning.

What drives you?

My journey has its origins in my personal story as a young learner at school. During this time, I struggled through the Italian education system to such an extent that I was described by some of my teachers as a hardworking but rather slow and not particularly gifted learner. However, it was through hard work that I managed to get into university, where I obtained a BA in English and then an MA in Audiovisual Translation, as well as many other qualifications, including my coaching certificates.

Reflecting on those years, I can't help but feel sad for all the young learners I met along the way who, like me, didn't fit into this kind of standardised state education that failed to acknowledge and use all their gifts and potential. I can't help but wonder how things might have been different if the education system had appreciated that we were simply intelligent in a different way, and catered for the uniqueness of our brains, rather than trying to make us conform to certain educational standards. But I suppose that was science fiction in the eighties.

It's not my intention here to blame anyone for a situation that is undoubtedly complex and influenced by many factors. However, I would like to use my story as a springboard to express my deepest conviction: "We’re all capable of learning as long as our curiosity is nurtured, we’re able to find our motivation, our uniqueness is honoured and encouraged to thrive and, last but not least, we’re taught how to use our potential”.

Neurolanguage Coaching® fits perfectly with the above learning beliefs. It respects the uniqueness of everyone’s brain. It also identifies the importance of feelings in learning. Finally, it’s a non-directive and non-judgmental style that aims to use our full potential to achieve the goals we set.

What about EALL?

EALL stands for Efficient Autonomous Language Learning, and it's a concept that began to take shape when I was driving home with some colleagues after the Neurolanguage Coaching conference which took place in Sitges, Spain, at the end of March this year.

While talking to them about my business and what made me unique as a language provider, I realised that, apart from creating the perfect learning environment for my clients and maximising their performance and results through Neurolanguage Coaching®, there was another goal I had at heart: to make them autonomous language learners as quickly as possible.

This means helping them develop a certain self-awareness as language learners. To do this, it's important to understand their strengths, the obstacles they usually encounter on their way to achieving their specific goals and becoming aware of their particular learning style.

They should then be given some techniques and tools to help them continue to learn autonomously, and a realistic routine should be devised with them that can fit into their normal week.

Finally, it's important to find a way to make their progress measurable and to help them understand how they can use what they've learned. This will help them to stay motivated.

My ultimate goal is to provide the client with an efficient, tailor-made and standardised approach to autonomous learning that can ideally be replicated in the acquisition of any other language.

I believe autonomous learning is where the language learning business is heading today, and I personally want to embrace this trend.

What makes you unique?

I believe that my uniqueness is a combination of many factors.

I’ve already mentioned some of them, such as my background, my personal story, my drive, the language learning methodology I use and what I strive to achieve for my clients as a language coach.

But it's only when I add my special qualities as a human being that I can make this mix perfect.

I'm a calm, gentle, respectful person who cares about those who cross my path for personal or professional reasons.

My emotional intelligence is probably my most valuable asset when it comes to dealing with people.

I believe in freedom of choice, happiness and clarity of thought, and conduct my work with the utmost professionalism, sincerity and respect, which form the basis of my code of conduct. But if I had to sum this up in a single word, I'd use the word coherence. In fact, I try not to do anything that's not in harmony with myself and my values.

I don't claim to be the ideal language trainer for everyone out there, but if something I've written resonates with any of my readers, then I might be the right language professional for them.

Finally, what kind of audience do you have in mind?

Here's the target audience I have in mind:

Professionals – These are usually clients with very specific needs. They may work in different sectors and need Italian, English or Spanish to carry out work-related tasks. The ability to work professionally in these languages may also be a requirement for obtaining a particular job or promotion.

Adult students – Their aim is to prepare for an exam certifying their knowledge of one of the above languages. The certification may be needed to validate their language skills and make them more competitive in the job market, to gain access to higher education in Italy, the UK or Spain, or to improve their chances of success in civil service exams.

Expats – Relocating to another country involves solving many problems, where navigating the local language and culture play a vital role. By identifying and addressing these potential and specific needs in advance, both from a language and cultural perspective, clients can experience a smoother relocation process.

Language enthusiasts – I also belong to this category. These are the people who are willing to start learning a language or improve their existing knowledge simply out of passion and interest. They don't have an impeding need, but they aren’t less motivated.

If I had to identify one common and essential factor for someone to become a client of mine, I'd say it's the willingness to take responsibility for the learning process and become coachable.

If any of the readers of this article belong to any of the above groups and think that I might be the right language coach to help them achieve their goals, I invite them to contact me. I'd be happy to offer them a free Neurolanguage Coaching® Trial Session to help them discover their motivation, goals and way forward.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Youtube, or visit my website for more info!



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