You are on page 1of 15

Individual Differences in L2

 Language Aptitude
 Motivation
 Learning Strategies
Language Aptitude
 People differ in the way the learn an
L2 – especially whether they possess
a natural ability for learning an L2 -
this ability is known as Language
 There are a number of components
of language aptitude.
Components of Language
 Phonemic coding ability, i.e. the
ability to identify sounds of a foreign
language so that they can be
remembered later. This ability is also
seen as related to the ability to
handle sound-symbol relationships.
 해주세요 (hae ju say yo) “want to understand”
however, ends with “yo” thus is being polite
 Grammatical sensitivity, i.e. the
ability to recognize the grammatical
functions of words in sentences.
 For example, the subject and object of a
 Inductive language learning ability,
i.e. the ability to identify patterns of
correspondence and relations
between form and meaning.
 For example, to recognize that in English
‘to’ can denote direction and ‘at’ location
I am going to Disney World
I am at Disney World
 Rote learning ability, i.e., the ability
to form and remember associations
between stimuli. This is believed to
be important in vocabulary learning.
Language Aptitude
 Strong evidence supports the extent
that language aptitude is related to
success in L2 learning
 Learners who score high on language
aptitude tests typically learn rapidly
and achieve higher levels of L2
proficiency than learners who obtain
low scores.
 Whereas language aptitude concerns
cognitive abilities, motivation
involves attitudes and affective
states that influence the degree of
effort that learners make to learn an
 Instrumental – functional reason,
educational and economic opportunities
 Integrative – interest in people and culture
represented by target language
 Social identity and investment
 Bonny Pierce suggests that social identity is central to
L2 learning. Learning is successful when learners are
able to construct identities that enables them to impose
their right to be heard.
 This requires ‘investment’, increase ‘cultural capital’ –
function successfully in variety of social contexts
 Learners are not computers who process data, but
combatants who battle to assert themselves and
investor who expect a good return on their efforts
 Machiavellian motivation – the desire to learn the L2 in
order to manipulate and overcome the people of the
target language
 Resultative motivation
 Motivation is not just the cause for
learning but also the result of learning
 Learners who experience success in
learning a language may become more
or less motivated.
 Intrinsic motivation
 In some learning situations, learner reasons for
learning L2 may not be crucial for motivation.
 It is possible learners don’t hold any distinct attitude
toward target language group.
 Foreign language setting

 These four types, however, should be seen as

complementary, not distinct and oppositional!
Learning Strategies
 Particular approaches or techniques learners
use to try to learn an L2.
 Typically problem-oriented
 Learners are generally aware of the
strategies they use and can usually explain
what they did to try to learn something
 The good language learner
 According to research, successful learners
use more strategies than unsuccessful ones
Learning Strategies
 Cognitive strategies
 Those involved in analysis, synthesis, or
transformation of learning materials
 Operate directly on incoming info, manipulating it
in ways to enhance learning
 Rehearsal – repeating the name of items or
objects to be remembered
 Imagery – use of visual images to understand
and remember new verbal info
 Inferencing – using info in oral text to guess
meaning of new linguistic items, predict
outcomes or complete missing parts
 Deduction – applying rules to understand
Learning Strategies
 Metacognitive strategies – involved in planning,
monitoring, and evaluating learning
 Receptive or productive language tasks
 Selective attention – conscious decision to pay
attention to special aspects of task, planning to
listen to key words
 Planning to organization of spoken or written
 Evaluating or checking comprehension after
completion of task
 The ways in which learners choose to
interact with other speakers
 Questioning for clarification
 Self-talk – using mental control to assure
that a learning activity will be successful or
reduce anxiety (pep talk)
 Cooperation – working with peers to solve
a problem, check notes, get feedback