Personality factors as predictors of foreign language aptitude

Main Article Content

Adriana Biedroń

Abstract

The study addresses a problem which is inadequately investigated in second language acquisition research, that is, personality predictors of foreign language aptitude. Specifically, it focuses on the Five Factor model which includes Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1992) as traits differentiating gifted and nongifted foreign language learners and predicting results of foreign language aptitude tests. Although contemporary researchers generally agree that affect is an important variable in second language acquisition, most empirical studies demonstrate that personality factors are weakly correlated with cognitive abilities and that their contribution to the ultimate attainment is minor (cf. Robinson & Ellis, 2008). On the other hand, these factors constitute an integral part of cognitive ability development (cf. Dörnyei, 2009); therefore, neglecting them in research on foreign language aptitude would be unjustified. The following study is an attempt to analyze the Five Factors in two groups of learners: gifted and nongifted. In order to answer the question as to which and to what extent personality factors have a predictive effect on foreign language aptitude, the results were subjected to a multiple regression analysis. The findings of the study are presented and discussed in a wider context of research on cognitive abilities.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Section
Articles
Author Biography

Adriana Biedroń, Pomeranian Academy in Słupsk

Adriana Biedroń received her PhD in applied linguistics from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, in 2003. She is an assistant professor at the English Philology Department of Pomeranian University, Słupsk, Poland. Her fields of interest include applied linguistics and SLA theory and research. Her research focuses on individual differences in SLA, in particular, foreign language aptitude and cognitive and personality factors in gifted L2 learners.

References

  1. Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2008). The robustness of aptitude effects in near-native second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 481-509. doi:10.1017/S027226310808073X
  2. Arnold, J. (Ed.). (1999). Affect in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Biedroń, A. (2010). Personality factors according to the Five Factor model in gifted foreign language learners. In G. Perez-Bustamante, K. Phusavat, & F. Ferreira (Eds.), Proceedings of the IASK International Conference Teaching and Learning 2010, Seville, Spain, 29 November - 01 December 2010 (pp. 148-154). International Association for the Scientific Knowledge.
  4. Biedroń, A. (2012). Stability and variability of gifted L2 learners’ personality within a dynamic systems theory paradigm. In E. Piechurska-Kuciel & L. Piasecka (Eds.), Variability and stability in foreign and second language learning contexts (vol. 2 pp. 2-21). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  5. Bongaerts, T. (1999). Ultimate attainment in L2 pronunciation: The case of very advanced late L2 learners. In D. Birdsong (Ed.), Second language acquisition and the critical period hypothesis (pp. 133-159). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  6. Bongaerts, T., Mennen, S., & van Der Silk, F. (2000). Authenticity of pronuncia-tion in naturalistic second language acquisition: The case of very advanced late learners of Dutch as a second language. Studia Linguistica, 54, 298-308. doi:10.1111/1467-9582.00069
  7. Bongaerts, T., Planken, B., & Schils, E. (1995). Can late starters attain a native accent in a foreign language? A test of the critical period hypothesis. In D. Singleton & Z. Lengyel (Eds.), The age factor in second language ac-quisition (pp. 30-50). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  8. Bongaerts, T., van Summeren, Ch., Planken, B., & Schils, E. (1997). Age and ultimate attainment in the pronunciation of a foreign language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19, 447-465. doi:10.1017%2FS0272263197004026
  9. Bouchard, T. J. Jr. (1997). The genetics of personality. In: K. Blum & E. P. Noble (Eds.), Handbook of psychiatric genetics (pp. 273-296). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
  10. Bouchard, T. J. Jr., & Loehlin, J. C. (2001). Genes, personality and evolution. Behavioural Genetics, 31, 243-273. doi:10.1023/A:1012294324713
  11. Bouchard, T. J. Jr., & McGue, M. (2002). Genetic and environmental influences on human psychological differences. Heritable Psychological Differences, 45, 4-45. doi:10.1002/neu.10160
  12. Carroll, J. B. (1981). Twenty-five years of research on foreign language aptitude. In K. C. Diller (Ed.), Individual differences and universals in language learning aptitude (pp. 83-118). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
  13. Carroll, J. B. (1993). Human cognitive abilities: A survey of factor-analytic stud-ies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  14. Carroll, J. B., & Sapon, S. M. (2002). Modern Language Aptitude Test: Manual 2002 edition. N. Bethesda, MD: Second Language Testing.
  15. Cattell, R. B., Eber, H. W., & Tatsuoka, M. M. (1970). The handbook for the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.
  16. Comrey, A. L. (1970). Comrey Personality Scales manual. San Diego, CA: Educa-tional and Industrial Testing Service.
  17. Corno, L., Cronbach, L. J., Kupermintz, H., Lohman, D. F., Mandinach, E. B., Porteus, A. W., & Talbert, J. E. (2002). Remaking the concept of aptitude: Extending the legacy of Richard E. Snow. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  18. Costa, P. T. Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI): Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
  19. DeKeyser, R. M. (2000). The robustness of critical period effects in second lan-guage acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 22, 499-533.
  20. Dewaele, J-M. (2002). Psychological and sociodemographic correlates of communicative anxiety in L2 and L3 production. The International Journal of Bilingualism, 6, 23-39. doi:10.1177/13670069020060010201
  21. Dewaele, J-M. (2009). Individual differences in second language acquisition. In W. C. Ritchie & T. K. Bhatia (Eds.), The new handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 623-646). Bingley: Emerald.
  22. Dewaele, J-M. (2011). Reflections on the emotional and psychological aspects of foreign language learning and use. Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, 22(1), 23-42.
  23. Dewaele, J-M., & Furnham, A. (2000). Personality and speech production: A pilot study of second language learners. Personality and Individual Dif-ferences, 28, 355-365. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00106-3
  24. Dewaele, J-M., Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2008). Effects of trait emotional intelligence and sociobiographical variables on communicative anxiety and foreign language anxiety among adult multilinguals: A review and empirical investigation. Language Learning, 58, 911-960.
  25. doi:10.1111%2Fj.1467-9922.2008.00482.x
  26. Doughty, C. J., Campbell, S. G., Mislevy, M. A., Bunting, M. F., Bowles, A. R., & Koeth, J. T. (2010). Predicting near-native ability: The factor structure and reliability of Hi-LAB. In M. T. Prior, Y. Watanabe, & S-K. Lee (Eds.), Selected proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum (pp. 10-31). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. Retrieved from http://www.lingref.com/cpp/slrf/2008/paper2382.pdf
  27. Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Teaching and researching motivation. Harlow: Pearson Education.
  28. Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner. Mahwah, NJ: Law-rence Erlbaum.
  29. Dörnyei, Z. (2009). The psychology of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  30. Dörnyei, Z. (2010). The relationship between language aptitude and language learning motivation: Individual differences from a dynamic systems per-spective. In E. Macaro (Ed.), Continuum companion to second language acquisition (pp. 247-267). London: Continuum.
  31. Dörnyei, Z., & Skehan, P. (2003). Individual differences in second language learning. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 589-630). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  32. Eaves, L. J., Heath, A. C., Martin, N. G., Maes, H. H., Neale, M. C., Kendler, K. S., Kirk, K. M., & Corey, L. (1999). Comparing the biological and cultural inheritance of personality and social attitudes in the Virginia 30,000 study of twins and their relatives. Twin Research, 2, 62-80. doi:10.1375%2F136905299320565933
  33. Ehrman, M. E. (1996). Understanding second language learning difficulties. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  34. Ehrman, M. E. (2008). Personality and good language learners. In C. Griffiths (Ed.), Lessons from good language learners (pp. 83-99). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  35. Ehrman, M. E., & Oxford, R. L. (1995). Cognition plus: Correlates of language learning success. Modern Language Journal, 7, 67-89.
  36. doi:10.1111%2Fj.1540-4781.1995.tb05417.x
  37. Eysenck, H. J., & Eysenck, S. B. G. (1964). Manual of the Eysenck Personality Inventory. London: University of London Press.
  38. Gosling, S. D. (2001). From mice to men: What can we learn about personality from animal research? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 45-86. doi:10.1037%2F0033-2909.127.1.45
  39. Griffiths, C. (Ed.). (2008). Lessons from good language learners. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  40. Hu, X., & Reiterer, S. (2009). Personality and pronunciation talent in second language acquisition. In G. Dogil & S. Reiterer (Eds.), Language talent and brain activity (pp. 97-130). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  41. Hyltenstam, K., & Abrahamsson, N. (2003). Maturational constraints in SLA. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), Handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 539-589). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  42. Ioup, G., Boustagui, E., El Tigi, M., & Moselle, M. (1994). Re-examining the CPH: A case study of successful adult SLA in a naturalistic environment. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 16, 73-98. doi:10.1017%2FS0272263100012596
  43. Leaver, B. L., Ehrman, M. E., & Shekhtman, B. (2005).
  44. Achieving success in se-cond language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  45. McCrae, R. R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1258-1265.
  46. doi:10.1037%2F0022-3514.52.6.1258
  47. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. Jr. (1997). Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist, 52, 509-516. doi:10.1037%2F0003-066X.52.5.509
  48. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. Jr. (2003). Personality in adulthood: A five-factor theory perspective (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
  49. Morgan, G., Smith, N., Tsimpli, I., & Woll, B. (2007). Classifier learning and modality in a polyglot savant. Lingua, 117, 1339-1353.
  50. doi:10.1016%2Fj.lingua.2006.01.005
  51. Moyer, A. (1999). Ultimate attainment in L2 phonology. Studies in Second Lan-guage Acquisition, 21, 81-108. doi:10.1017%2FS0272263199001035
  52. Moyer, A. (2007). Empirical considerations on the age factor in L2 phonology. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 15, 109-127. doi:10.1111%2Fj.1473-4192.2007.154_3.x
  53. Myers-Briggs, I., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (1998). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers Briggs type indicator (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
  54. Nosal, C. S. (1999). Psychologia decyzji kadrowych (2nd ed.). Kraków: Wydaw-nictwo Profesjonalnej Szkoły Biznesu.
  55. Obler, L. K. (1989). Exceptional second language learners. In S. Gass, C. Madden, D. Preston, & L. Selinker (Eds.), Variation in second language acquisition: Psycholinguistic issues (pp. 141-159). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  56. Pawlak, M. (2009). Individual differences in language learning and teaching: Achievements, prospects and challenges. In M. Pawlak (Ed.), New per-spectives on individual differences in language learning and teaching [Special issue]. Studies in Pedagogy and Fine Arts, 8, 5-31.
  57. Piechurska-Kuciel, E. (2008). Language anxiety in secondary grammar school students. Opole: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Opolskiego.
  58. Ramírez-Esparza, N., Gosling, S. D., Benet-Martínez, V., Potter, J. P., & Penne-baker, J. W. (2006). Do bilinguals have two personalities? A special case of cultural frame switching. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 99-120. doi:10.1016%2Fj.jrp.2004.09.001
  59. Robinson, P. (2002). Learning conditions, aptitude complexes and SLA: A framework for research and pedagogy. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Individual differences and instructed language learning (pp. 113-133). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
  60. Robinson, P., & Ellis, N. C. (2008). Conclusion: Cognitive linguistics, second language acquisition and L2 instruction – issues for research. In P. Rob-inson & N. C. Ellis (Eds.), Handbook of cognitive linguistics and second language acquisition (pp. 489-545). New York: Routledge.
  61. Sawyer, M., & Ranta, L. (2001). Aptitude, individual differences, and instruc-tional design. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language in-struction (pp. 319-354). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  62. Schneiderman, E. I., & Desmarais, C. (1988). The talented language learner: Some preliminary findings. Second Language Research, 4, 91-109.
  63. doi:10.1177%2F026765838800400201
  64. Skehan, P. (1998). A cognitive approach to language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  65. Skehan, P. (2002). Theorising and updating aptitude. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Indi-vidual differences and instructed language learning (pp. 69-95). Phila-delphia, PA: John Benjamins.
  66. Snow, R. E. (1987). Aptitude complexes. In R. Snow & M. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, learning and instruction: Vol. 3. Conative and affective process analyses (pp. 11-34). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.
  67. Strelau, J. (2000). Osobowość jako zespół cech. In J. Strelau (Ed.), Psychologia. Podręcznik akademicki: Vol. 2. Psychologia ogólna (pp. 525-560). Gdańsk: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne.
  68. Tellegen, A. (1982). Brief manual for the Multidimensional Personality Qu-estionnaire. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.
  69. Van Boxtel, S., Bongaerts, T., & Coppen, P-A. (2003). Native-like attainment in L2 syntax. In S. Foster-Cohen & S. Pekarek-Doehler (Eds.), Eurosla yearbook 3 (pp. 157-181). University of Canterbury: John Benjamins.
  70. doi:10.1075%2Feurosla.3.10box
  71. Watson, D., & Clark, L. A. (1994). Emotions, moods, traits, and temperaments: Conceptual distinctions and empirical findings. In P. Ekman & R. J. Da-vidson (Eds.), The nature of emotions: Fundamental questions (pp. 89-93). New York: Oxford University Press.
  72. Wojtowicz, M. (2006). Test Zdolności Językowych. Warszawa: Pracownia Te-stów Psychologicznych PTP.
  73. Zawadzki, B., Strelau, J., Szczepaniak, P., & Śliwińska, M. (1998). Test Osobowości NEO FFI: Podręcznik. Warszawa: Pracownia Testów Psychologicznych PTP.