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III. Individual Differences in Second Language Learning. Factors affecting SLL:. 1- intelligence 2- aptitude 3- learning styles 4- personality 5- motivation and attitude 6- identity & ethnic group affiliation 7- learner beliefs 8- age of acquisition & the CPH. 1- Intelligence

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factors affecting sll
Factors affecting SLL:

1- intelligence

2- aptitude

3- learning styles

4- personality

5- motivation and attitude

6- identity & ethnic group affiliation

7- learner beliefs

8- age of acquisition & the CPH


1- Intelligence

  • What is the term used for ?
  • It is used traditionally to refer to performance on certain kinds of tests.
  • IQ scores were a good means of predicting success in SLL which involves language analysis and rule learning.
  • This kind of intelligence may play a less important role in classrooms where the focus on communication and interaction.

2- Aptitude

  • It refers to special abilities to learn quickly.
  • Two tests: MLAT & PLAB based on aptitude components:
  • identify & memorize new sounds
  • understand function of words
  • figure out grammatical rules
  • memory for new words

* Learners’ strengths and weaknesses in these different components may account for their ability to succeed in different types of instructional programs.


3-Learning style is used to describe an individual's natural, habitual, and preferred way of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills.

By: Asia Al-Amri


What are the Learning Styles?

  • Information enters your brain in three main ways: sight, hearing and touch, which one you use the most is called your Learning Style.
  • Visual Learners learn by sight.
  • Auditory Learners learn by hearing.
  • KinestheticLearners learn by touching or physical action

Those styles are called perceptually –based learning styles

visual learners
Visual Learners
  • Prefer to see information such as pictures, diagrams, cartoons, demonstrations
  • Picture words and concepts they hear as images
  • Easily distracted in lecture with no visual aids
  • Benefit from using charts, maps, notes, and flash cards when studying

Let me see it!

auditory learners
Auditory Learners
  • Prefer to hear information spoken
  • Can absorb a lecture with little effort
  • May not need careful notes to learn.
  • Often avoid eye contact in order to concentrate
  • May read aloud to themselves
  • Like background music when they study

Let me hear it!

kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic Learners
  • Prefer touch as their primary mode for taking in information
  • In traditional lecture situations, they should write out important facts
  • Create study sheets connected to vivid examples
  • Role-playing can help them learn and remember important ideas

Okay, I

get it now.

Let me try it!


The cognitive leaning styles

  • Some learners are described as Field Independent.
  • Others are described as Field Dependent.

For a number of years, it was widely reported that there was a strong relation between field independent and success in SLL.


There are many questions about how learning styles interact with success in LL.

  • However, we should encourage learners to use all means available to them.
  • The challenge is to find instructional approaches that meet the needs of learners with a variety of aptitude and learning styles profiles.

4- Personality By: Ashwaq Al-Harbi

  • A number of personality characteristics have been proposed as likely to effect SLL. They are:
  • Extroversion
  • Inhibition
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem
  • Empathy, etc…
1 extroversion
1- Extroversion:
  • Extroverted person is well suited to language learning .
  • Researches, however, do not always support this conclusion .
  • 1- Some studies have found that success in language learning is correlated with learners’ scores on questionnaires measuring characteristics associated with extroversion such as assertiveness and adventurousness.
  • 2- Others have found that many successful language learners do not get high scores on measures of extroversion.

In certain learning situation the quiet observant may have greater success.

2- Inhibition

It has been suggested that inhibition discourages risk-taking which is necessary for progress in language learning.

This is often a particular problem for adolescents who are more self-conscious than younger learners.

Alexander Guiora found support for the claim that inhibition is a negative force at least for second language pronunciation performance.

3 anxiety
3- Anxiety
  • Anxiety refers to learners’ feelings of worry, nervousness, and stress when learning a second language.
  • Recent researches acknowledge that anxiety is dynamic and dependent on situations or circumstance.
  • Anxiety can play an important role in SLL if it interferes with the learning process.
  • It has been argued that not all anxiety is bad and certain amount of tension can have a positive effect and even facilitate learning. For example, a learner’s willingness to communicate has been related to


*Researches state that learners who willingly communicate in a wide range of conversational interactions are able to do so because their prior language learning has led to develop self-confidence.

*Several other personality characteristics such as self-esteem , empathy, dominance, talkativeness, and responsiveness have also been studied.

*Many researchers believe that personality has an important influence on success in language learning, however it is not personality alone but the way in which it combines with other factors that contributes to second language learning.


5- Motivation and attitudes

Motivation has been defined in terms of two factors:

  • learners’ communicative needs
  • learners’ attitude to SL community

Q. How are (a) and (b) related to SLL?

Q. What is the difference between Integrative

and Instrumental motivations?

motivation in the classroom
Motivation in the classroom
  • Levels of motivation in relation to

pedagogical practices:

  • Motivating students into the lesson
  • Varying the activities, tasks and materials
  • Using cooperative rather than competitive goals
6 identity and ethnic group affiliation
6- Identity and ethnic group affiliation
  • Social factors can affect motivation, attitudes and language learning success.
  • Children as well as adults are sensitive to social dynamics and power relationships.
  • There were social situations in which learners were reluctant to speak because there was a power imbalance.
  • Immigrant learners were quickly assigned identities such as successful/unsuccessful, big/small, talkative/quiet, etc.

However identities are not static and can change over time.

  • As for ethnic affiliation, it is related to mastery of pronunciation. Explain how?

7- Learner beliefs

  • Learners have strong beliefs and opinion about how their instruction should be delivered.
  • Some learners are convinced that their progress was negatively affected by an instructional approach that was not consistent with their beliefs about the best way for them to learn.
a mismatch between students and teachers views
* A mismatch between students’ and teachers’ views
  • All students desire to have their errors corrected while very few teachers felt this was desirable.
  • Most students believe that formal study of the language is essential, just half of the teachers share this view.
  • Learners’ instructional preferences will influence the kind of strategies they use in trying to learn new material.
8 age of acquisition and the cph
8- Age of acquisition and the CPH
  • It has been hypothesized that there is a critical period for second language acquisition just as there is for first language acquisition.
  • Critical Period Hypothesis: there is a time in human development when the brain is predisposed for success in language learning.
  • Language learning that occurs after the end of the critical period may not be based on innate biological structures, but rather depend on more general learning abilities. These abilities are not as effective for language learning as the more specific, innate capacitiesthat are

available to the young child.

* The critical period ends somewhere around puberty.

  • The critical period: More than just accent?

Parkowski found that age of acquisition isa very important factor in setting limits on the development of the native-like mastery of a second language and that this limitation does not apply only to accent. It also applies to syntax and morphology.


Intuition of grammaticality:

Parkowski compared learners who began their intensive exposure to English between the ages of three and fifteen with those who arrived in the USA between the ages of seventeen and thirty-nine.

* He found that learners who began earliest achieved the highest scores on the grammaticality judgment task. Those who began later did not have native-like language abilities and their performance on the test varied more widely.


Rate of learning:

  • Studies show that adults and adolescents learned faster than children in the first year of second language development.
  • However, children can catch up and probably surpass the older if they continue to have adequate opportunity to use the language.
  • Thus, adults and adolescents can make considerable and rapid progress in contexts where they use the language in social, personal, professional or academic interaction.


* DDecisions about when to start second language programs in school should based on realistic estimates of how long it takes to learn a second language. One or two hours a week will not produce advanced second language speakers no matter how young they were when they began. Older learners may be able to make better use of the limited time they have for second language instruction.hould based on how long it takes to learn. Decisions about when to start second language programs in school should based on how long it takes to learn.


Age is one of the characteristic that determine the way in which an individual approaches second language learning. But The opportunities for learning, the motivation to learn and individual differences in aptitude for language learning are also important factors that affect both rate of learning and eventual success in learning.

* * * *