Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Language educators have often suggested that some students may be relatively better at certain types of languages. However, the ways in which target language structures interact with individual differences in language learners has never been seriously investigated. If there are such interactions, we would expect to find certain learning patterns in which our normal expectations for language learning outcomes are reversed. This paper reviews a variety of factors that might lead us to expect such reversals. Psychological and neurological evidence points towards a wide variety of individual differences in language learning mechanisms. Crosslinguistic psy cholinguistic analysis indicates that different target languages offer a wide variety of learning challenges. On the level of orthography, languages with huge inventories of non-Roman characters and symbols offer the greatest challenge. In phonology, all languages require a remapping from L1 struc tures. Lexical learning is most challenging for languages with few cognates to L1. Learners with strong access to the phonological rehearsal loop may be most successful for those languages. In the areas of syntax and morphology, some languages tend to favour learners who establish systematic structural paradigms, whereas other languages may be more easily learned through rote learning processes.




Language Testing, Vol. 12, No. 3, 292-320 (1995)