Thursday, November 15, 2012

Extroversion/Introversion and language learning

Nassim Golaghaei
Islamic Azad University


"The result of this study represented the fact that extroverts outperformed their counterparts in both fields of productive and passive knowledge of vocabulary. Such findings could be consistent with some clear evidence that extroverts learn foreign languages better because of their willingness to interact with others and because of their reduced inhibitions. It is noteworthy to mention that extroverted students are more likely to prefer interactive role-plays and group work (Ehrman & Oxford, 1995). In contrast introverted personalities do not have many friends, and have a preference for working in pairs or smaller groups. They may prefer individual activity, perhaps with one clear purpose, working in groups may well be less successful, because of a reluctance to participate in speaking activity. Furthermore, the obtained result of this brief study could be supported by the findings of Strong (1983, cited in Ellis, 1994), who reviewed 12 studies related to extroversion or similar traits. In 8 of these studies with 'natural communicative language' as a measurement base, 6 studies reported extroversion as an advantage."

Comment: It should be noted that the students acquired their language skills in a modern class setting with a particular focus on conversation and interaction (role playing) which heavily favors extroverts. As such, the conclusion should have perhaps been that extroverts learn languages better in a modern class setting. Introverts enjoy having something to talk about, and abhor empty talk and mindless role-playing interaction.


The Extroverted vs. the Introverted
Personality and Second Language learning
Paula Kezwer



Ismail ERTON


The purpose of this paper is to show that the reflections of different personality types can be observed in students’ developing different learning styles for themselves. It is hypothesized that personality may be a dominant factor in achieving the educational goals through several learning styles in foreign language achievement. To clarify this relationship;

Maudsley’s ‘Personality’ and Barsch’s ‘Learning Styles’ inventories were distributed to Bilkent University Freshman students studying at the Faculty of Engineering, Science, Economics, Fine Arts, and Humanities & Letters, who received the English 101 course in their first year at the university. The results were evaluated statistically and the findings showed that there is not a statistically strong, but a low relationship between the personality traits of the learner, the way he/she establishes the learning styles and reflects these characteristics into success while learning a foreign language.

 Keywords: personality, introvert, extrovert, learning styles.


The gift of tongues
What makes some people learn language after language?
The Economist
"Hyperpolyglots are more likely to be introverted than extroverted, which may come as a surprise to some. Emil Krebs, an early-20th-century German diplomat who was also credited with knowing dozens of languages, was boorish in all of them. He once refused to speak to his wife for several months because she told him to put on a winter coat."

Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D.
Psychology Today

"Often confused with shyness, introversion does not imply social reticence or discomfort. Rather than being averse to social engagement, introverts become overwhelmed by too much of it, which explains why the introvert is ready to leave a party after an hour and the extravert gains steam as the night goes on.
Scientists now know that, while introverts have no special advantage in intelligence, they do seem to process more information than others in any given situation. To digest it, they do best in quiet environments, interacting one on one. Further, their brains are less dependent on external stimuli and rewards to feel good.

As a result, introverts are not driven to seek big hits of positive emotional arousal—they'd rather find meaning than bliss—making them relatively immune to the search for happiness that permeates contemporary American culture. In fact, the cultural emphasis on happiness may actually threaten their mental health. As American life becomes increasingly competitive and aggressive, to say nothing of blindingly fast, the pressures to produce on demand, be a team player, and make snap decisions cut introverts off from their inner power source, leaving them stressed and depleted. Introverts today face one overarching challenge—not to feel like misfits in their own culture."

"It's often possible to spot introverts by their conversational style. They're the ones doing the listening. Extraverts are more likely to pepper people with questions. Introverts like to think before responding—many prefer to think out what they want to say in advance—and seek facts before expressing opinions. Extraverts are comfortable thinking as they speak. Introverts prefer slow-paced interactions that allow room for thought. Brainstorming does not work for them. Email does."

""In verbal cultures, remaining silent presents a problem," report Anio Sallinen-Kuparinen, James McCroskey, and Virginia Richmond, who have studied communication styles in the U.S. and Finland. Perceptions of competence tend to be based on verbal behavior. An introvert who is silent in a group may actually be quite engaged—taking in what is said, thinking about it, waiting for a turn to speak—but will be seen in the U.S. as a poor communicator."

"Solitude, quite literally, allows introverts to hear themselves think. In a classic series of studies, researchers mapped brain electrical activity in introverts and extraverts. The introverts all had higher levels of electrical activity—indicating greater cortical arousal—whether in a resting state or engaged in challenging cognitive tasks. The researchers proposed that given their higher level of brain activity and reactivity, introverts limit input from the environment in order to maintain an optimal level of arousal. Extraverts, on the other hand, seek out external stimulation to get their brain juices flowing.

Neuroimaging studies measuring cerebral blood flow reveal that among introverts, the activation is centered in the frontal cortex, responsible for remembering, planning, decision making, and problem solving—the kinds of activities that require inward focus and attention. Introverts' brains also show increased blood flow in Broca's area, a region associated with speech production—likely reflecting the capacity for self-talk.
But extensive internal dialogue, especially in response to negative experiences, can set off a downward spiral of affect. And indeed, anxiety and depression are more common among introverts than extraverts. In general, says Robert McPeek, director of research at the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, introverts are more self-critical than others—but also more realistic in their self-assessments. Call it depressive realism.

The biological difference between introverts and extraverts is most evident in the way they respond to external stimulation, observes Colin DeYoung, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. "The levels of stimulation extraverts find rewarding can be overwhelming or annoying for introverts." He cites studies showing that, when learning, introverts do best in quiet conditions and extraverts do better with more noise."

Conversation between an introvert and an extravert can involve a series of misunderstandings. As the introvert struggles to follow multiple conversational threads and sort out his own thoughts, he remains quiet and appears to be just listening. The extravert reads that as engagement, a cue to keep talking. The introvert struggles with the continuing flow of input and soon starts to shut out the extravert, while nodding or smiling, or even trying to stop the exchange.

Even a simple opener of "Hello, how are you? Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you about X," from anyone can challenge an introvert. Rather than bypassing the first question or interrupting the flow to answer it, the introvert holds onto the question: Hmm, how am I? (An internal dialogue begins, in which the introvert "hears" herself talking internally as the other person speaks.)

Even if the introvert responds, "I'm good," she's probably still reflecting on how she is: Good? That's not quite right. I really have had a pretty crummy day, but there isn't a quick way to explain that. She wants to first work out privately her thoughts and judgment about the day. She also may evaluate the question itself: I hate that we so often just say 'good' because that's the convention. The other person doesn't really want to know. She may even activate memories of how the question has struck her in the past."

Comment: This last bit is scarily familiar.

What Not to Say to an Introvert

"Introverts, those quiet creatures that walk among you, are not as mild-mannered as made out to be. They seethe and even will lash out at those who encroach upon or malign their personal comfort zones. Here are a few emotional buttons to avoid with your introverted companions.
  • "'Why don't you like parties? Don't you like people?' is a common remark introverts hear," says Marti Laney, a psychologist and the author of The Introvert Advantage. "Usually we like people fine," she insists. "We just like them in small doses." Cocktail parties can be deadly. "We're social but it's a different type of socializing."
  • "Surprise, we've decided to bring the family and stay with you for the weekend." Anyone anywhere on the -vert spectrum could find such a declaration objectionable, but it's more likely to bring an introvert to a boil, according to Nancy Ancowitz. Introverts count on their downtime to rejuvenate their resources; an extended presence in their homes robs them of that respite.
  • Don't demand immediate feedback from an introvert. "Extraverts think we have answers but just aren't giving them," Laney says. "They don't understand we need time to formulate them" and often won't talk until a thought is suitably polished.
  • Don't ask introverts why they're not contributing in meetings. If you're holding a brainstorming session, let the introvert prepare, or encourage him to follow up with his contributions afterward.
  • Don't interrupt if an introvert does get to talking. Listen closely. "Being overlooked is a really big issue for introverts," Laney says. Introverts are unlikely to repeat themselves; they will not risk making the same mistake twice.
  • Above all, "we hate people telling us how we can be more extraverted, as if that's the desired state," says Beth Buelow, a life and leadership coach for introverts. Many introverts are happy with the way they are. And if you're not, that's your problem."

Jung's Theory of Temperaments

10 Myths about Introverts

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