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The Idea of the Good Language Learner


									Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft
Wintersemester 2008/2009

Veranstaltung: Introduction to Second Language Acquisition
Veranstalter: Nathan Devos

                        The Idea of the Good
                         Language Learner

Sedef Balkanli (1868845)
Katharina Gercken (1657898)
Marten Siegmann (1874928)
•   Overview: What makes up a successful
•   Characteristics in Detail:
       1.   Intelligence
       2.   Aptitude
       3.   Learning Style
       4.   Personality
       5.   Motivation
       6.   Societal Setting
The Language Learner
An Example: Michael
Skill-improvement is limited

                  If Michael does not change his
                  attitude, he will not be able to
                  improve his conversational skills!
  Learner‘s success depends on …

• … the different factors that influence the
• The variables do not cause but influence
  each other.

Complex setting of all
factors together
• Intelligence ≈ success in school
• IQ-tests more strongly related to
  metalinguistic knowledge than to
  communicative ability
• This kind of “intelligence“ may play a less
  important role in classrooms with CLT
• Howard Gardner (1993): `multiple
•  John Carroll (1991) = “ability to learn quickly“
•  Paul Meara (2005) developed tests:
1. Identify and memorize new sounds
2. Understand the function of particular words in
3. Figure out grammatical rules from language
4. Remember new words
     Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT)
• Communicative Approach => emphasis on
  communicative interaction
• Leila Ranta (2002): no direct attention to
• Teachers supposed to ensure that their
  teaching activities are sufficiently varied to
  accomodate learners with different
  aptitude profiles.
              Learning Style
• Reid (1995):
Learning Style = an individual´ s natural, habitual,
   and preferred way of absorbing, processing,
   and retaining new information
1. `visual` learners
2. `aural` learners
3. `kinaesthetic` learners
    Encourage learners to use all means available
                       to them!
• Extroverted vs. introverted person
• Inhibition
• Learner Anxiety (can be negative and/or
Peter MacIntyre (1995):
´because anxious students are focused both the
  task at hand and their reactions to it … [they] will
  not learn as quickly as relaxed students´
• Self-esteem, empathy, dominance,
  talkativeness, and responsiveness
      Motivation and attitudes
• Integrative Motivation
       – Positive disposition towards SL group and the desire to
         interact with and even become a member of that

• Instrumental Motivation
       – Language learning is primarily associated with potential
         pragmatic gains of SL proficiency (e.g. getting a better
     Dörnyei‘s process model of
      motivation in a classroom
• Choice motivation

• Executive motivation

• Motivation retrospection

        see overhead-projector
   Motivation in the classroom
        (Graham Crookes & Richard Schmidt)

• Motivating students into the lesson

• Varying the activities, tasks, and materials

• Using co-operative rather than competitive
Identity and ethnic group affiliation
• Social factors can affect motivation,
  attitudes and language learning success
• Instrumental and integrative motivation do
  not capture the complex relations of
  power, identity and language learning
• Adjudged to be less loyal to their ethnic
             Learner beliefs
• Learners believe they know the best way
  to learn
• Can be strong factors in experience in a
• “Virtually all students express a desire to
  have their errors corrected.“ (Renate Schulz)
              Exam Questions
1.   Do learner‘s variables cause or do they influence each
2.   What is the connection between social life and the
     process of language learning?
3.   What is "learner anxiety" and how does it influence
     second language learning?
4.   What is meant by "aptitude" and how is this term
     related to second language learning?
5.   What is meant by instrumental and integrative
• Lightbrown, Patsy M., and Nina Spada. How
  Languages are Learned. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford
  University Press, 2006.
• Dörnyei, Zoltán. Motivational Strategies in the
  Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
  University Press, 2001.

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