Individual Differences In Second Language Acquisition

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In second language acquisition, it is a key tenet to explore how individual differences influence on students’ learning. There is no doubt that each person is different from each other in many ways and, of course, being different does not only mean having different learning styles, but also acquiring a foreign language differently. Consequently, individual differences have a strong impact on students’ language acquisition and their overall performance in school, being of crucial importance to take them into account when instructing learners. During the 1970s many researchers spent much time investigating which were the characteristics of the perfect learner, paying much attention to trying to find common characteristics to all the “good” learners.…show more content…
According to Ellis (2012) these differences have been traditionally classified as cognitive, affective and motivational individual differences (p. 308). However, as Dörnyei (2009) suggests, this division cannot be considered as definitive, since there is no scientific evidence which supports or disclaims it (as cited in Ellis, 2002, p. 308). However, there is empirical evidence which shows which individual differences are most likely to influence on students’ performance. For example, Zafar and Meenakshi (2012) establish age, aptitude, learning styles, learning strategies and personality as the most reliable individual differences when dealing with second language acquisition (p. 639). Indeed, they play a crucial role, but there are other individual differences which are also essential when acquiring a foreign…show more content…
According to Ellis & Shintani (2014), “language aptitude is the special ability for learning an L2” (p. 286). Early studies which tried to find the characteristics of the “perfect” learner focused primarily on this factor (Gardner, 1985, p. 18). However, as cited by Ellis & Shintani (2014), it is a “special ability”, which not everybody possesses, being inadequate to focus solely on it. Personality also seems to be very influential when explaining second language acquisition. Nevertheless, it is a more complex construct which is affected by characteristics such as students’ extraversion/introversion, their self-esteem, or their anxiety (Skehan, 1991, p. 643). Attitudes are also crucial in second language acquisition. They are also crucial for determining motivation, one of the individual differences most investigated in this field, as demonstrated by numerous studies (Bernaus & Gardner, 2008; Dörnyei & Csizer, 2002; Kouritzin, Piquemal & Renaud, 2009; Masgoret & Gardner,

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