Individual Learner Differences and Second Language Acquisition

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Offline Anta

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Individual Learner Differences and Second
Language Acquisition: A Review

Why do some people almost achieve the native speaker‟s levels of competence in a foreign language while others never seem to progress much beyond a beginner‟s level? Some second language learners make rapid and apparently effortless progress while others progress only very slowly and with great difficulty. The reason probably is that people are not homogenous! They have different personalities and styles. Thus, each individual is different from the other. These individual differences, according to Dörnyei, (2005) are, “enduring personal characteristics that are assumed to apply to everybody and on which people differ by degree.”

Humans differ from each other due to many biological or conditioned factors (affected by nature) or unconscious forces (affected by past experiences). The many ways in which one learns about these differences are usually similar, through introspection and interaction with other people, or by reading books and watching television or cinema. However, in order to conduct research in individual differences, it is necessary to have rigorous instruments, and a scientific way of providing reliable and valid. The differences that one can explore are:

A. Age
B. Sex
C. Aptitude
D. Motivation
E. Learning Styles
F. Learning Strategies
G. Personality

The above mentioned differences are intricately interlocked with each other and in totality play important roles in language learning. Language teachers should be aware of their effects. In compared to the linguistics factors, these nonlinguistic factors are not given much importance in SLA research. Still many researchers over the years have made significant efforts at exploring the role of these factors. In a sequence, we will take a look at their role in second
language learning.

Anta Afsana
Department of English
Daffodil International University
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Contact number: 07134195331