Learning a second language is a very personal experience, and people learn best in different ways. While there are slight and generalized differences between how introverts and extroverts experience a second language, both personalities have the same ability to become fluent in a new language! Numerous studies on the correlation between personality and language learning skills have failed to find a statistically significant distinction between introverts and extroverts in language learning. Introverts and extroverts may prefer different language practice techniques, but ultimately there is no evidence that one set of strategies is more effective than another.
These notions of introversion and extroversion are indeed familiar to everyone, but what about the learning temperament of each personality?
When it comes to language learning, for an extrovert, the “speak from day one” approach may be perfect. Still, an introvert will most likely prefer to focus on listening, reading, and translating for months to acquire understandable knowledge and only later convert it into active vocabulary through writing, text messaging and finally speaking. For both personality types to succeed, it is essential to create an environment where students understand that mistakes are part of the learning process and that speaking is more important than being perfect.
In general, introverted learners make slower progress, especially in developing oral skills. They are less likely to take advantage of or seek out speaking opportunities. Some introverts learn through observation and analysis; others do not. Introverts have a large passive vocabulary. They often listen to a group conversation and prefer to take the opportunity to practice later one-on-one with a friend in a more comfortable setting. Because introverts listen more than they speak, they retain words that would otherwise pass too quickly in conversation and reconstruct the meaning of those words through contextual clues. As a result, introverts may have a large passive vocabulary – words they understand and can use in a written sentence, but they do not typically use in speech.
On the other hand, Extroverted students are more likely to think outside the box and try out their newly learned vocabulary. They prefer to work with others and exchange ideas. Extroverts remember personal stories. They tend to tell stories about people they know personally when practicing speaking. Extroverts share real-life experiences or anecdotes, and, in part, the speaking practice becomes a social exchange. Social and learning activities that benefit them include problem-solving with others, group projects, and learning by imitating experiences.
At the same time, introverts tend to listen to others during conversations and are more comfortable weighing the exact meaning of words before speaking. When studying a second language, introverts are accustomed to listening to each individual meaning of a new word and discerning how the different grammatical rules of a language rearrange the order of words and sentences. While many people may choose to learn the rules of grammar and syntax through textbooks, some introverts may absorb the rules of grammar simply by listening and getting used to the conversation of others.
For extroverts, talking with others and sharing social experiences is energizing and motivating. It’s beneficial for practicing speaking. Extroverts do well when learning in class because they are constantly encouraged to practice talking with their neighbors. Extroverts seek conversation!
On the other hand, at the level of teaching itself, the strategies used by a language teacher are crucial and have an essential impact on language learning. How does the teacher help learners understand the concepts of a language? How do they take into account the different personalities of their learners, the different learning styles, and the different levels of comprehension is a crucial factor in their learning process and progress.
At ELAM, our trainers are qualified and trained to help all learners complete their language projects in the shortest possible time. We have been in the business for over 28 years, have experienced all kinds of personalities and demands, and have risen to the challenge with flying colors!
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