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Coraima M. Benítez Durán.
Cristina Mayo Arroyo.
Edilberto Villa Panting.
Giovanny F. Salvador Sánchez.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE DEGREE Professor: Rosa A. May Meléndez.
A Good Language Learner.

Learners of English as a foreign language have always complained about the serious
challenge they have to face when studying this completely foreign language, especially
when they aim at achieving a high level of English. This goal requires a lot of hard work
from both learners and teachers; the latter need to discover specific characteristics in
the learner to potentially assist in better learning. Factors as motivation that is formed
in two kinds, both related to success in second language acquisition, whereby the
target language is being used for personal reasons like enhancing cultural immersion
and social intercourse (Brown, H. D., 2007).

As in other areas of science, in language learning there are some students who find
easily for them learn a second language, that’s the concept of the good language
learner. During some years researchers have studied the characteristics of this kind of
students, what for? The answer is so simple, to analyze what techniques or strategies
works for these students or what personal or psychological parameters motivate them
to success in language learning. Oxford and Rang (2008) state that the aim of the
research; the good language learner (Naiman, Frohlich and Todesco 1975) was to
“unearth the secrets of such learners, with the implicit assumption that if these secrets
became more widely known, they could be shared with or transplanted to less
successful language learners” (p.306).

In addition, the language aptitude provides special abilities to successfully learn a

foreign language. Language aptitude is considered to be a mental ability, which
includes traits such as thinking, reasoning and processing information, all of which are
cognitive skills (Dornyei, 2005). According to Dornyei (2008), the teachers who find the
good strategies that meet the uniqueness of the students might develop their aptitude.
Clearly, there is a link between aptitude and the desire to learn.

The principal definition in a good language learner is “motivation” because if there is no

motivation, there is no learning. The teacher has an important role in language
learning, they have the ability to carry on to students and may focus on learning. If the
teacher does not have that ability, a student does not develop their knowledge.

Basically, a good language learner is someone who makes an effort into learn a new
language, who pays attention to all the rules, all the techniques to follow steps and
become to a successful learner. Characteristics of good language learners: motivation,
personality, learner’s beliefs, language aptitude, attitude, learning strategies, and
intelligence. Anyone could be a good language learner but this is something that you
need to wish, you have to get goals and develop your language skills, reflecting your
own strengths and weaknesses because this is the key if you want to learn a lot and it
will help you to focus effort where it will most benefit for you. A good language learner
is someone who is ready to work independently and take charge of developing aspect
of his or her own learning.

How to Be a More Successful Language Learner is a good book written by Joan Rubin
and I. Thompson. They explain about there is no stereotype of 'the good language
learner'. They identified some following strategies that are used by some language

1. Making reasoned guesses when not sure.

2. Making an effort to communicate and to learn through communication.
3. Finding strategies for overcoming inhibitions in target language interaction.
4. Practicing the language whenever possible.
5. Monitoring their speech and that of others.
6. Attending to form (i.e., grammar).
7. Paying attention to meaning.

The important thing to realize about this list or other more recent lists is that good
language learners do not necessarily use the same language strategies. Even if they
use the same strategies, they may not use them for the same purposes or in the same
way. For example, one learner focuses on form only while reading and writing, while
another does so while listening and speaking as well.

“Research on strategies for effective language learning has focused on the

identification, description, and classification of strategies; their frequency of use and the
learner’s success at using them; differences in language proficiency level, age, gender,
and cultural background that might affect their successful use of strategies; and the
impact of language strategy training on student performance in language learning and
language use” (Halleck, 1995).

Learning to think in the target language:

As your knowledge of the language progresses and your vocabulary grows, you will
find that you can say more and more. The sense of achievement that you will have will
boost your motivation and encourage you further. Developing the skills of vocabulary
acquisition, reading, listening, speaking and writing.

Learning/Extending your vocabulary:

Find out what kind of learner you are in order to choose a method that works for you.
How do you memorize best? Does it help you to read words out loud while looking at
the written form, then to cover the word and say it again from memory, checking
afterwards that you have got it right? Is it useful to carry out the above activity and then
to write the word down from memory, again checking that you have got it right?

Define your goals:

Learn a certain number of phrases or words associated with a topic per day or study
session, and try to stick to your plan.

Which aspects of the word do you need to know?

When you learn a word, you also learn whatever you need to know about it e.g. its
gender or plural, depending on the language. It can be helpful to learn the word not
only as an individual unit but also as part of a sentence, to give it context. So write out
the sentence where you came across the word as well as the word itself and learn
them both. This will help to increase your vocabulary further by learning the associated

Active and passive vocabulary

Since it may appear daunting to have large amounts of vocabulary to learn, distinguish
between active use (in speaking and writing) and passive (receptive) use or recognition
(in listening and reading). Your receptive store of vocabulary will be larger than your
active store. You need to have more accurate knowledge of your active store.

Use your new vocabulary actively!

Categorize your vocabulary according to topic. It is very important to revise as much

vocabulary as possible on a regular basis. Frequent short sessions of vocabulary
learning, revisiting what you have learnt and adding new words and phrases, are more
effective than occasional long sessions. Talk to another student about the topic whose
vocabulary you have been studying, or write a short piece about it.

Brown, H. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching. (5th ed.). White Plains,
NY: Pearson Education, Inc.

Callahan, M. (1994). How do I motivate my students?. Retrieved from:

Halleck, G. B. (1995). How To Be a More Successful Language Learner. TESL-EJ.

Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. Retrived from: http://www.tesl-
Klapper, J. (2006). Understanding and developing good practice: language teaching in
higher education. London, CiLT: The National Centre for Languages.

Krashen, S. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning.

England, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Krashen, S. (1983). Principles and practices in second language acquisition. England,

Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Lightbown, P. M. & Spada, M. (2000). Factors affecting second language learning. In

N. Mercer (Ed.), English language teaching in its social context: A reader (pp.
28-43). Florence, KY: Routledge.

Oxford, R. & Rang, L. (2008). The learners’ landscape and journey: a summary.
Lessons from good language learners (p.306). United Kingdom, UK: Cambridge
University Press.

1. Elaborate a mental map. Use illustrative pictures to explain each one of the 7
strategies on detail, accoding to Rubin, J. and Thompson, I.

2. First, watch the Good Language Learning video

( and then answer the
following questions:

- How anyone can become a good language learner?

- Do you consider yourself as a good language learner? If not, how do you think you
can become a good language learner?