Individual Differences inSecond Language LearningSamira Bakeer
Schedule ChangeNO LANGUAGE ACQUISITIONCLASSES FOR NEXT WEEK (29th&30thof April (good news isn’t it?)
3The “Good Language Learner”Are there personal characteristics that make onelearner more successful than another?In your experience, as an English learner, whichcharacteristics seem to you most likely to beassociated with success in L2 acquisition?share your opinion with your group members. Findthree most important and three least important learnercharacteristics.
Types of variationThere are a number of personalitycharacteristics that may affect L2 learning,such as- Empathy- Extroversion- Self –esteem- Inhibition- Risk-taking- Anxiety- attitudes- egocentricity (self image)
Empathyempathy is the process of reaching beyondthe self and understanding and feeling whatother person understands or feels.It is usually described as the projection ofones own personality into the personality ofanother in order to understand him better. Inother words, it is the compassion one canrender for another person.
Empathy Empathy refers to an individuals ability to imaginewhat another person is feeling or thinking based onhis or her own experiences--to put him/herself in theothers shoes.When a learner is acquiring a second language, heor she is also acquiring, in a sense, a newpersonality, and a new culture.The ability of a learner to open him or herself to newcultural experiences and adopt these experiences astheir own is essential in the language acquisitionprocess.
Extroversion vs. IntroversionGroup A????Group BHudaHananRogia
Extroversion vs. IntroversionAre you more extroverted or introverted?It is often argued that an extroverted person is wellsuited to language learning. However, research doesnot always support this conclusion.Some studies have found that learners’ success inlanguage learning is associated with extroversion suchas assertiveness and adventurousness, while othershave found that many successful language learners donot get high scores on measures of extroversion.9
Self-esteemSelf-esteem refers to a personal evaluation and judgment ofworthiness that is expressed in the individuals attitude towardhim or herself or toward his or hercapabilities.Although several studies have shown that those who have highself- esteem are also good language learners, it is difficult tosay whether successful language learning is because of highself- esteem, or if high self-esteem is a result of successfullanguage learning.We do know that teachers who pay attention to their studentsemotional well-being in addition to their language performancewill have more successful and happier students.
InhibitionAll human beings build sets of defences toprotect the ego (concept of one’s self)Inhibition in a person arises as he/she tries todefend or protect their self-image.If the learner perceives the mistakes thathe/she makes in the second language as athreat to their emotional well-being and selfperception, then acquisition will not occur orwill occur much more slowly.
Risk-TakingOne of the characteristics that has been found toexist in "good" language learners is the willingnessto guess. If the learner is less inhibited, he/she ismore willing to take a chance on producing a"correct" utterance in the second language.They are willing to guess about the possible word inthe second language, even when their guessesoften bring comical results. They do not worry aboutthe possible consequence-- of looking or feelingfoolish-- if they guess incorrectly
16Inhibition vs. risk-takingIt has been suggested that inhibition discouragesrisk-taking, which is necessary for progress inlanguage learning.Inhibition is often considered to be a particularproblem for adolescents, who are more self-conscious than younger learners.Inhibition is a negative force, at least for secondlanguage pronunciation performance.Be aware that inhibition may have more influence inlanguage performance than in language learning.
Anxiety (I)Trait Anxiety vs. State Anxiety:a) Trait anxiety: a more permanent predisposition to beanxiousb) State anxiety: a type of anxiety experienced inrelation to some particular event or act; temporaryand context-specificMore recent research acknowledges that anxiety ismore likely to be dynamic and dependent onparticular situations and circumstances.Anxiety can play an important role in L2 learning if itinterferes with the learning process.18
Anxiety (II)Debilitative (harmful) Anxiety vs. Facilitative (helpful)Anxiety: Not all anxiety is bad and a certain amount oftension can have a positive effect and facilitatelearning.A learner’s willingness to communicate has also beenrelated to anxiety. It is often affected by the number ofpeople present, the topic of conversation, and theformality of the circumstances.Willingness to communicate or state anxiety can alsobe affected by learners’ prior language learning & useexperience, self-confidence, and communicativecompetence. 19
AttitudeWhen looking at students’ attitudes towardslanguage, we need to consider that their attitudesmight be in relation to the language they arelearning, towards the speakers of this language ortowards the language learning environment –including the teacher and/or classroom. Manyattitudinal factors are related to the learner’spersonality including their self image, inhibitionsand risk-taking characteristics.Other characteristics such as language ego andtolerance for ambiguity, also related to personality,have to do with a learner’s view of him or herself inrelation to the language and culture environment.
EgocentricityThe term ―ego refers to a person’s awareness ofhis or herself in relation to the rest of the world,and how distinct the person is in relation to others.Language Ego is a person’s awareness of thelanguage he or she speaks and that it differs fromlanguages spoken by others.This awareness of the use of one language tospeak with a certain group of people, while itcannot be used to speak with others is known as―language boundaries.
Self ImageA learners self-images are determinedby how they see themselves in relationto other second language learners (Areother students faster, smarter, etc. thanI am?) and in relation to native speakersof the second language (Will theyunderstand me? Will they think I amless intelligent because I don’t speakthe language as well as they do?).
Young children are not developedcognitively enough to have ego or attitudein the formative years; therefore languageboundaries are more flexible. Youngchildren often do not realize that they areusing two or more languages. For them, itis one big communication system. There isno distinction between one language andanother.
Language Ego Permeability refers to the ability tomove back and forth between languages and thedifferent ―language personalities that develop as‖the result of learning additional languages. Peoplewho have highly permeable language egos do notfeel that their native language or native identity isthreatened by the learning of an additionallanguage or languages.To have permeable ego boundaries, you musthave a well-defined, secure, integrated ego orsense of self in the first language (Guiora, 1972).
MotivationMotivation has been widely acceptedas the stimulant that drives people tolearn a language, directs andencourages them to expend someeffort, and enables them to sustainthat effort in order to reach their goals(Gardner, 2001;).
1.Integrative motivation: aim of learning is to learn about the languagegroup, or to meet more and different people from the target languagecommunity, to the point of eventually being accepted as a member ofthat group.1.Integrative motivation: aim of learning is to learn about the languagegroup, or to meet more and different people from the target languagecommunity, to the point of eventually being accepted as a member ofthat group.Integrative and instrumental motivation Gardner and Lambert proposed integrative motivation and instrumentalmotivation from a social psychological point of view. (Gardner andLambert 1959, 1972)2. Instrumental motivation: reasons of L2 learning reflect the moreutilitarian value of linguistic achievement, such as benefiting in anoccupation.2. Instrumental motivation: reasons of L2 learning reflect the moreutilitarian value of linguistic achievement, such as benefiting in anoccupation.29
31Identity & Ethnic AffiliationThe social dynamic or power relationshipbetween L1 and L2:Minority group members learning the language of amajority groups may have different attitudes andmotivation from those of majority group memberslearning a minority language.Think of why an ESL learner’s and an EFL learner’sattitude may differ in motivation and attitudes.
32An imbalanced power relationship between L1 and L2may limit the opportunities learners have to practice andto continue to develop the L2.Identities are not static and can change over time.Learners’ identities will impact on what they can do andhow they can participate in classrooms, which affectshow much they can learn.The relationship between feelings of ethnic affiliation andL2 learners’ mastery of pronunciation can be complex.Learners may want to speak with a strong “foreignaccent” to maintain their L1 identity.Identity & Ethnic AffiliationIdentity & Ethnic Affiliation
“The process of becoming adapted to a new culture”4 stages• Initial excitement and euphoria• Culture shock Estrangement andhostility• Culture stress Recovery• Assimilation or adaptation to the new cultureSchumann’s Acculturation Model
Its relation to SLA• The degree to which a learner acculturates to thetarget language group will control the degree to whichhe acquires the second language• Learner group vs. Reference group (or Targetlanguage group)• Social and psychological factors determine theamount of contact with the TL and the degree towhich the learner is open to that input which isavailableSchumann’s Acculturation Model
As a result his/her target language will staypidginized. Pidginization is characterized bysimplifications and reductions occurring in thelearner’s interlanguage which lead to fossilizationwhen the learner’s interlanguage system does notprogress in the direction of the target language (for areview see McLaughlin, 1987:110-112)If the social and/or psychological distance is great thenacculturation is impeded and the learner does notprogress beyond the early stages of languageacquisition.Pidginization
when social and/or psychological distances are great,the learner fails to progress beyond the early stages(Schumann, 1976)Pidginization hypothesisAlberto (33, Costa Rican)a reduced and simplified form of English• use of no e.g. I no use television• lack of inversion e.g. What you study?• lack of auxiliaries• lack of possessive "-s"• unmarked forms of the verb (-ed)• lack of subject pronouns
38Conclusions for PersonalityIn general, the research does not show a single clearly-defined relationship between personality traits and SLA.1. The major difficulty is that of identification andmeasurement of personality characteristics.2. Personality variables may be a major factor only in theacquisition of conversational skills, not in the acquisitionof literacy or academic skills.3. Most research on personality traits has been carried outwithin a quantitative research paradigm (i.e., anapproach that relies on measuring learners’ scores onpersonality surveys and relating these to language testperformance). More qualitative research is needed toadequately capture the depth and complexity of therelationship.
39Summary1. The research on individual differences is complex and theresults of the research are not easy to interpret.This is because ofa) the lack of clear definitions and methods for measuringindividual characteristicsb) The fact that the characteristics are not independent ofone another: learner variables interact in complex ways.2. It remains difficult to predict how a particular individual’scharacteristics will influence his or her success as alanguage learner.3. Teachers should take learners’ individual differences intoaccount and to create a learning environment in whichmore learners can be successful in learning an L2.