Have you ever considered how your personality might be affecting your language skills and development….

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, the way you speak and choose your words may help or hinder your linguistic progress.

Research indicates that introverts are said to use language whch is more precise whilst extroverts tend to be more vague. Perhaps this is why introverted linguists are said to convey a higher perception of trust than from extrovert linguists.

Extrovert linguists, by nature, tend to be greater risk-takers which may explain why many teachers think that students who are more outgoing are more likely to be more successful as 2nd language learners than those who more introverted. They are not afraid to make mistakes! Extroverts also tend to create more situations to engage in conversation in the target language.

On the other hand, introverts may be more intrinsically-motivated than extroverts who require external stimulus. This intrinsic motivation may be a factor in determining why, according to the German psychiatrist, Manfred Spitzer, introverts may conversely fare better than extroverts in the long term when learning a language.

The challenge for teachers, (and perhaps more importantly for the students themselves!), is for extroverts to behave more like introverts and vice versa. However, this may be academic as surely it is difficult to change one’s traits and instincts in terms of one’s personality? Besides, young learners in schools are still very much on that journey of discovering who they are and this process may last long into early adulthood.

Perhaps personality-types could be exposed to a greater amount of activities befitting their opposite personality’s traits in an attempt to ‘stimulate’ further cognitive and therefore linguistic development. For example, an introvert could be exposed to more ‘extrovert’ activities in the hope that they become more ‘comfortable’ within their new surroundings – such as group work or role play. Similarly, an extrovert could undergo further linguistic training in traditionally ‘introverted’ activities which may require a more ‘detailed’ approach. For example, students who fall into the extrovert category could be given more exposure to ‘introverted’ activities such as reading comprehension-type activities or other activities which involve scrutinizing aspects of the grammar or vocabulary?

In any case, the end result would hopefully be to produce confident and competent linguists!

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