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Extroverts quicker at picking up a new language than introverts

A study found a significant relationship between the two personality traits and English language proficiency, with higher scores in speaking, reading and overall proficiency for extrovert students.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 23, 2017 14:44 IST
Press Trust of India
Extroverts,Introverts,Learning a new language
Researchers examined whether extrovert-introvert tendencies affected English language proficiency among Chinese students in India, and how these traits influenced language learning.(Shutterstock)

Extroverts learning a new language may be better at speaking and reading, but introverts are better listeners, scientists have found.

Researchers examined whether extrovert-introvert tendencies affected English language proficiency among Chinese students in India, and how these traits influenced language learning.

In Chinese culture, students are expected to listen to their teachers attentively, as opposed to Western culture where class participation is encouraged. Some studies have suggested that such introversion hinders Chinese students’ ability to learn English as a second language.

However, it is unclear if a relationship exists between extroversion-introversion traits and English language proficiency for non-native speakers.

Psychologists argue that introverts are less susceptible to distraction and have better long-term memory, while linguists claim that the extroverts’ sociable and outgoing attitudes, as well as their high tolerance to risk, help with learning a foreign language.

Researchers suggest that instructors should adjust their teaching strategies depending on different personality traits among students learning English as a second language. (Shutterstock)

Researchers analysed the data from 145 Chinese exchange students aged between 18 and 21 at VIT University in Vellore, Tamil Nadu. The data comprised of English language test scores and two types of questionnaires – one asked about personality and linguistic information, and the other only about their personality.

They found the majority of the students were introverts (47%), followed by extroverts (35%), and ‘no tendency towards the extroversion-introversion traits’ (18%).

The team confirmed a significant relationship between the two personality traits and English language proficiency, with higher scores in speaking, reading and overall language proficiency for extrovert students.

There was little difference in writing between the two groups. However, researchers found introvert students were better listeners than extrovert students, contradicting some claims that academic excellence relies solely on the extrovert tendency.

They speculate that this may indicate introverts’ ability to focus more effectively on listening than extroverts. The researchers suggest that instructors should adjust their teaching strategies depending on different personality traits among students learning English as a second language.

The study was published in the Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities.

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First Published: Jul 23, 2017 14:39 IST