Personality Characteristics Associated with Successful Second Language Acquisition Cover Image

Personality Characteristics Associated with Successful Second Language Acquisition
Personality Characteristics Associated with Successful Second Language Acquisition

Author(s): Andreea Cervatiuc
Subject(s): Foreign languages learning
Published by: Editura Alfa
Keywords: second language acquisition; native speakers; personality role

Summary/Abstract: The personality traits that emerged as being associated to success in acquiring close-to-native competence in a second language are outgoingness, risk-taking, self-esteem, intellectual curiosity, perfectionism, and tolerance of ambiguity. Exceptional learners are critically aware of the personality traits associated with successful second language vocabulary acquisition and, if they do not naturally have them, they cultivate them, adopting a second language learning persona. Risk-taking meant venturing into unsafe territories in conversations, disregarding jokes and ridicule for imprecise lexical use and self-esteem was perceived as arising from an acknowledgement of one’s strengths as well as weaknesses. Intra-comparisons (with own progress) and deflection (target model perceived as imperfect) were the main techniques used to boost self-confidence. Perfectionism and intellectual curiosity, a desire to learn and discover new things and concepts were perceived as driving forces behind success in second language vocabulary acquisition. Perfectionism was understood as the effort to do one’s best under any given circumstances and constantly aspire to do better. Tolerance of ambiguity was moderately associated to second language vocabulary acquisition, as most participants expressed their preferences for guessing lexical meaning from the context, but also emphasized the usefulness of subsequent dictionary use or someone else’s explanations as semantic validation strategies. The process of data collection and analysis generated a combination of personality characteristics that might explain the exceptionality of a relatively small number of adult English non-native speakers who achieve close-to native proficiency, while the vast majority fossilize or plateau around an intermediate level. From a socio-psychological perspective, this particular set of innate or ‘cultivated’ personality traits might be conducive to significant gains in second language proficiency.

  • Issue Year: III/2007
  • Issue No: 2 (06)
  • Page Range: 201-211
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: English