Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Vol 3, No 4 (2012), 639-646, Jul 2012
doi:10.4304/jltr.3.4.639-646

Individual Learner Differences and Second Language Acquisition: A Review

Shahila Zafar, K. Meenakshi

Abstract


The level of second language acquisition depends on many factors controlled by nature or shaped by nurture. The present paper studies the role of individual learner differences in second language acquisition (SLA). The individual differences, viz., age, sex, aptitude, motivation, cognitive style, learning strategies, and personality are defined and classified. A detailed review of the studies conducted in relation to the seven individual differences follows. The paper concludes by emphasizing that a language teacher must recognize the individual differences in his/ her students in order to impart effective language learning.


Keywords


second language acquisition; individual learner difference; personality; age; sex; aptitude; motivation; cognitive style; learning strategies

References


[1] Bacon, S.M., & M. D. Finneman (1992). Sex differences in self-reported beliefs about foreign language learning and authentic oral and written input. Language Learning 42.4, 471-95.

[2] Bailey, K. M. (1983). Competitiveness and anxiety in adult second language learning: Looking at and through the diary studies. In H. Seliger, & M. Long (eds.), Classroom oriented research in second language acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers, 67-102.

[3] Beebe, L. (1983). Risk-taking and the language learner. In H. Seliger & M. Long (eds.), Classroom oriented research in second language acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 39-66.

[4] Boyle, J. (1987). Sex differences in listening vocabulary. Language Learning 37.2, 273- 284.

[5] Brodkey, D., & H. Shore (1976). Student personality and success in an English language program. Language Learning 26, 153-159.

[6] Brown, H. D. (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching. Englewood Cliffs, N, J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

[7] Carroll, J. (1963). The prediction of success in intensive foreign language training. In R. Glazer (ed.), Training research and education. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 67-102.

[8] Cook, V. (2001). Second language learning and language teaching (3rd edn.). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. 

[9] Coopersmith, S. (1967). The antecedents of self-esteem. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Company.

[10] Dewaele, J., & A. Furnham (1999). Extraversion: The unloved variable in applied linguistic research. Language Learning 49.3, 509-535.

[11] Dufeu, B. (1994). Teaching Myself. London: Oxsford University Press.

[12] Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

[13] Ehrman, M.E. (1996). Understanding Second Language Learning Difficulties. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

[14] Ehrman, M. E., & R. L. Oxford (1995). Cognition plus: Correlates of language learning success. The Modern Language Journal, 79.1, 67–89.

[15] Gardner, R. C. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London: Edward Arnold.

[16] Gardner, R. C., & W. E. Lambert (1972). Attitudes and motivation in second-language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

[17] Heyde, A. (1979). The relationship between self-esteem and the oral production of a second language. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, MI.

[18] Kimura, D. (1992). Sex differences in the brain. Sci Am 267, 119 –125

[19] Kim, H. S., N. R. Relkin, K. M. Lee, & J. Hirsch (1997). Distinct cortical areas associated with native and second languages. Nature 388, 171–174.

[20] Knowles, M. (1972). Innovations in teaching styles and approaches based upon adult learning. Journal of Education for Social Work 8.2, 32-39. 

[21] Krashen, S. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. London: Longman.

[22] Larsen-Freeman, D., & M. H. Long (2000). An introduction to second language acquisition research. London: Longman.

[23] Lochart, C. & J. C. Richards (1994). Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press.

[24] Lombaard, M. (2006). Task-based assessment for specific purpose Sesotho for personnel in the small business corporation (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch).

[25] Long, M. (1990). Maturational constraints on language development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 12, 251-285.

[26] MacIntyre, P. D., & R. C. Gardner (1991). Methods and results in the study of foreign language anxiety: A review of the literature. Language Learning 41.1, 283-305.

[27] MacIntyre, P. D., R. Clément, Z.  Dörnyei, & K. A. Noels (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in a L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. The Modern Language Journal 82.4, 545-562.

[28] McDonough, S. H. (1986). Psychology in foreign language teaching. London: George Allen & Unwin.

[29] O'Malley, J. M., & A. U. Chamot (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[30] Oxford, R.L. (2003). Language learning styles and strategies: An overview. Oxford: GALA

[31] Oxford, R.L. (1993). Instructional implications of gender differences in language learning styles and strategies. Applied Language Learning 4, 65-94.

[32] Oxford R. L., & M. Ehrman (1992). Second language research on individual differences. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 13, 188-205.

[33] Oxford, R. L., M. Nyikos & M. E. Ehrman (1988). Vive la différence? Reflections on sex differences in use of language learning strategies. Foreign Language Annals 21, 321- 329.

[34] Rubin, J., & I. Thompson, (1994). How to be a more successful language learner, 2nd ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

[35] Saville-Troike, M. (2006). Introducing second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[36] Skehan, P. (1989). Individual differences in second language learning. London: Edward Arnold.

[37] Slobin, D. I. (1982). Universal and particular in the acquisition of language. In E. Wanner and L. Gleitman (Eds.), Language acquisition: State of the Art (pp. 128-170). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

[38] Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output in its development. In S. M. Gass, & C. G. Madden (eds.), Input in second language acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 235-252.

[39] Witkin, H.A. (1973). The role of cognitive style in academic performance and in teacher- student relations. Paper presented at a symposium on Cognitive Styles, Creativity and Higher Education. Sponsored by the Graduate Record Examination Board, Montreal, Canada. Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service, Research Bulletin 73 - 11.

[40] Young, D. J. & R. L. Oxford (1997). A gender-related analysis of strategies used to process written input in the native language and a foreign language. Applied Language Learning 8, 1-20.

[41] Zhuanglin, H. (1989). Linguistics: An Introduction. Beijing: Peking University Press.

 


Full Text: PDF


Journal of Language Teaching and Research (JLTR, ISSN 1798-4769)

Copyright @ 2006-2014 by ACADEMY PUBLISHER – All rights reserved.