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Correlation between Personality Traits and Language Learning Strategies among IUS Students.

BaşlıkCorrelation between Personality Traits and Language Learning Strategies among IUS Students.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMulalic, A, Obralic, N
JournalJournal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research
Volume4
Issue5
Date Published2017
ISSN NumberISSN: 2376-760X
Full Text

Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research Volume 4, Issue 5, 2017, pp. 76-84 Available online at www.jallr.com ISSN: 2376-760X * Correspondence: Nudzejma Obralic, Email: nobralic ius.edu.ba © 2017 Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research Correlation between Personality Traits and Language Learning Strategies among IUS Students Nudzejma Obralic * Assistant Professor, International University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Almasa Mulalic Assistant Professor, International University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Abstract Success in a second language learning and ultimate attainment in target language can be associated with the concept of personality traits. Personality of a learner can impact the overall success in second language learning. Language learning strategies also can impact successful second language acquisition to a great extent. These two trends, although not closely related, when considered in a second language classroom can significantly help students in their endower while learning second language. 70 students from International University of Sarajevo participated in the research. The Five Factor model questionnaire was distributed in order to determine students’ personality traits, which is composed of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1992), and for language learning strategies we used the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL). The results showed that students exhibited very high preferences for social learning strategy. Students’ dominant personality trait was Openness to Experience. The results also showed that there is a significant relationship between the predominant personality traits and language learning strategies of the respondents. Keywords: the Five Factors, SILL, Personality traits, language learning strategies, language acquisition INTRODUCTION In the past two decades in the field of language learning and teaching, there was a shift from teacher-centered classroom to student-centered one. This trend provided an opportunity to the students to become more independent learners and at the same time self-governed. The focus was more on learner centered approach in language teaching (Reiss, 1987; Wenden, 1991; Tamada, 1996). Another issue that was taken into consideration when it comes to successful second language learning was language learning strategies and styles and to what extent they influence successful acquisition of a second language. Oxford (1990) is the most prominent researcher and very often cited Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2017, 4(5) 77 in literature related to language learning strategies. She argued that while considering the processes through which students are going while acquiring the language, researchers have to pay attention to the process of learning rather than the product. Beside teaching approaches, learning styles and strategies another important factor in SLA is personality traits of a language learner. According to Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2005) personality traits of an individual are: …. a very general mental capacity that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience…. it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings- ‘catching on’ ‘making sense’ of things, or ‘figuring out’ what to do…. (p. 40). When it comes to personality traits it has got prominent attention among language learning specialists. It has been determined through numerous researches that there is a great variability among learners when it comes to personality factors. Because of this variability researchers focused their attention to this issue in order to help students pursue their goals in second language acquisition. Personality traits have special characteristics among individuals that usually could be traced to an unchanged pattern of traits. Researchers have focused their attention on anxiety, locus of control, achievement orientation, intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, social competence etc. Among the most prominent and very often used instrument to measure personality traits is Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, & Hammer, 1988). Costa and McCrea’s (1992). Five Factor model of personality is also very prominent and often used in language acquisition field. The model includes five factors that mark person’s personality, namely they are: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. The research on personality traits and language learning strategies has not been popular and not much researched in the field. There are a number of researchers who called on a wider research in this field because of its importance and potential contribution in the language studies (Bongearts, Planken & Schils, 1995; Dorney, 2009, 2010, Moyer, A. 1999, Moyer, M. 2007). Current research main aim is to determine personality traits among IUS students as well as the preferences towards language learning strategies. Besides, the researchers’ intention was to determine to what extent personality traits and language learning strategies correlate between each other. The first part of the research will present statement of the problem and why the research was instigated. Statistical analysis will be presented through descriptive statistics, the Pearson product-moment correlation, and t-test for the differences among male and female students in regards to personality factors and language learning strategies. Statement of the problem The study investigated the concept of personality traits and preferred learning strategies among IUS students. The most important concern was to determine how Correlation between Personality Traits and Language Learning Strategies 78 these two variables correlate and to what extent they influence language learning. Researchers posed the following questions: What are the dominant personality traits of the respondents? What are preferred learning strategies of the students while learning a second language? What is the predominant personality trait according to the gender differences? What are the predominant learning strategies of the students according to the gender? Is there a significant correlation between predominant personality trait and the most preferred language learning strategy employed by the respondents? METHOD The study was conducted among 70 students at the International University of Sarajevo attending freshman courses ENG111 and MAN111. The particular study took place in the fall semester school year 2015-2016. The researcher used two set of questionnaires; Big Five and SILL. Quantitative and descriptive study was employed in this research. Instruments Strategies Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) Researchers used Oxfords, 1990 The Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL version 7.0 for ESL/EFL learners, 50 items). This is a self-report questionnaire, on which students marked their choices based on how they perceive themselves while learning a language. In this way, we were able to determine how often students use language learning strategies. The SILL questionnaire has been widely used as a key instrument in many studies. Those studies have reported reliability coefficients for the SILL ranging from .85 to .98. This means that the questionnaire is a trustworthy measure for determining students’ reported language learning strategy use (Bremner & Narayan, 1988; Oxford & Burry-Stock, 1995; Park, 1997; Sheorey, 1999; Wharton, 2000). In the SILL, language learning strategies are grouped into six categories for assessment: Memory strategies for storing and retrieving information, Cognitive strategies for understanding and producing the language, Compensation strategies for overcoming limitations in language learning, Meta-cognitive strategies for planning and monitoring learning, Affective strategies for controlling emotions, motivation, and Social strategies for cooperating with others in language learning. Five Factor Model Five Factor Model was the second questionnaire used in this study. Five Factor model is composed of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Extroversion is related to the people who like to be engaged with the external world, usually very friendly and easy going. It is the personality trait according to which people look for the fulfillment from sources outside the self or in community. High scorers are usually associated with being social while low scorers have a preference towards working on their projects alone. Agreeableness personality trait refers to modesty, compassion, tender-mindedness and honesty. It reflects an individual who adjust their behavior to suit others. High scorers are typically Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2017, 4(5) 79 polite and they like people. Conscientiousness is the personality trait of being honest and hardworking. People who possess this personality trait are usually punctual and reliable at work. They prefer planned and structured behavior to spontaneity and creativity. High scorers tend to follow rules and prefer clean homes. Low scorers may be messy and cheat others. Neuroticism is the personality trait of being emotional. Neurotic people express instability and they are very impulsive. They cannot handle stress, they usually have fear. Openness to Experience is the personality trait of seeking new experience and intellectual pursuits. High scores may day dream a lot. Low scorers may be very down to earth. RESULTS The first research question was to define the dominant personality traits of the respondents? In order to determine personality factors of the students the following were considered Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness. According to the table 1. bellow and the mean value (M=23,69) students exhibited preferences of personality trait for Openness to Experience. Agreeableness (M=21, 53) and Conscientiousness (M=21, 34) were the next ranked personality trait among students. Extroversion (M=18, 50) and Neuroticism (M=18, 87) had the lowest mean. Table 1. One-Sample Statistics N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean Extroversion 70 18,50 2,477 ,296 Agreeableness 70 21,53 3,124 ,373 Conscientiousness 70 21,34 2,675 ,320 Neuroticism 70 18,87 2,983 ,356 Openness to experience 70 23,69 3,295 ,394 Besides investigating the personality trait, the researchers tend to investigate the preferred learning strategies of the students when learning the language? According to the table below the most preferred leaning strategies among students was Cognitive (M=29, 21) learning strategy. Memory (M=19, 97) learning strategy was the second ranked learning strategy among students, followed with Metacognitive (M=18, 90) learning strategies. The least preferred learning strategy was Compensation (M=12, 56) learning strategy, followed with Social (M=12, 37) strategy. Table 2. One-Sample Statistics N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean Memory 70 19,97 3,757 ,449 Cognitive 70 29,21 4,800 ,574 Compensation 70 12,56 2,512 ,300 Metacognitive 70 18,90 4,076 ,487 Effective 70 14,66 3,116 ,372 Social 70 12,37 3,018 ,361 Correlation between Personality Traits and Language Learning Strategies 80 The second research question was to find if there is any difference between male and female students regarding personality traits? According to table 3 below, the mean value implies that there is statistically significant difference between male and female students only on the Openness personality trait. All other personality traits did not differ significantly between male and female students. It can be concluded that because female students are more open they differ on the Openness personality from their male counterparts. Table 3. Independent Samples Test Levene's Test for Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means F Sig. t df Sig. (2- tailed) Mean Differen ce Std. Error Differ ence 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference Lowe r Uppe r Extroversion Equal variances assumed 2,727 ,103 ,652 68 ,517 ,404 ,621 -,834 1,643 Equal variances not assumed ,695 59,44 3 ,490 ,404 ,582 -,760 1,569 Agreeablenes s Equal variances assumed 2,525 ,117 ,860 68 ,393 ,671 ,781 -,887 2,229 Equal variances not assumed ,965 65,94 8 ,338 ,671 ,696 -,718 2,060 Conscientious ness Equal variances assumed 5,313 ,024 1,35 4 68 ,180 ,898 ,663 -,426 2,221 Equal variances not assumed 1,56 6 67,86 2 ,122 ,898 ,573 -,246 2,042 Neuroticism Equal variances assumed 5,124 ,027 - 1,85 4 68 ,068 -1,356 ,731 - 2,815 ,104 Equal variances not assumed - 1,69 6 38,43 2 ,098 -1,356 ,799 - 2,973 ,262 Openness to experience Equal variances assumed 1,903 ,172 3,03 1 68 ,003 2,356 ,777 ,805 3,906 Equal variances not assumed 3,30 6 62,65 1 ,002 2,356 ,712 ,932 3,779 Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2017, 4(5) 81 Table 4. Group Statistics gender N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean Extroversion female 25 18,76 2,127 ,425 male 45 18,36 2,664 ,397 Agreeableness female 25 21,96 2,300 ,460 male 45 21,29 3,501 ,522 Conscientiousness female 25 21,92 1,754 ,351 male 45 21,02 3,041 ,453 Neuroticism female 25 18,00 3,512 ,702 male 45 19,36 2,560 ,382 Openness female 25 25,20 2,500 ,500 male 45 22,84 3,404 ,507 The next research question was to find if there is any difference between male and female students when it comes to their preferences towards language learning strategies? The results indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between male and female students in their strategy use. There was only slight, but not significant difference, between male and female students in metacognitive strategy use. Female students used metacognitive strategy more than male students (for Female students M = 19, 04 and for Male students M = 17, 82). Table 5. Group Statistics gender N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean memory female 25 20,36 3,463 ,693 male 45 19,76 3,932 ,586 Cognitive female 25 29,00 4,975 ,995 male 45 29,33 4,753 ,709 compensation female 25 12,68 2,780 ,556 male 45 12,49 2,380 ,355 metacognitive female 25 19,04 4,036 ,807 male 45 18,82 4,141 ,617 effective female 25 14,40 2,309 ,462 male 45 14,80 3,501 ,522 social female 25 12,12 2,818 ,564 male 45 12,51 3,145 ,469 The third research question investigated if there is a significant correlation between predominant personality trait and the most preferred language learning strategy employed by the respondents? According to the table below results show that there is a strong correlation between personality traits and language learning strategies at the 0.01 level (2 tailed) and at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). The strongest correlation is between Extroversion and all the strategies (Memory, Cognitive, Compensation, Metacognitive, Effective, and Social) employed by students. The strong correlation also was found between Agreeableness and Effective learning strategy. The strong correlation has also been found between Consciousness and all the learning strategies except Metacognitive and Social strategy. The weakest correlation was found between Neuroticism and all the Correlation between Personality Traits and Language Learning Strategies 82 language learning strategies except Effective learning strategy where correlation was significant (S=, 293). The weak correlation was also found between Openness and language learning strategies except Compensation and Effective learning strategies. Overall results showed that there is correlation between personality traits and strategy use in the language classroom. Having this in mind, it has to be stated that second language instructors should pay more attention to their students’ personality traits and their success or failure to acquire second language. Table 6. Correlations Memory Cognitive Compensation Metacognitive Effective Social Extroversion Pearson Correlation ,269* ,437** ,241* ,438** ,282* ,289* Sig. (2-tailed) ,024 ,000 ,044,015 ,000 ,018 N 70 70 70 70 70 70 Agreeableness Pearson Correlation ,203 ,074 ,075 ,079 ,370** ,040 Sig. (2-tailed) ,093 ,540 ,539,740 ,514 ,002 N 70 70 70 70 70 70 Conscientiousness Pearson Correlation ,354** ,253* ,444** ,212 ,385** ,147 Sig. (2-tailed) ,003 ,035 ,000,223 ,078 ,001 N 70 70 70 70 70 70 Neuroticims Pearson Correlation ,076 ,116 ,161 ,018 ,293* ,018 Sig. (2-tailed) ,532 ,338 ,184,881 ,882 ,014 N 70 70 70 70 70 70 Openness to experience Pearson Correlation ,214 ,163 ,272* ,186 ,245* ,047 Sig. (2-tailed) ,076 ,178 ,023,700 ,122 ,041 N 70 70 70 70 70 70 N 70 70 70 70 70 70 **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2 tailed). *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). DISCUSSION In the current research from the date presented above it can be concluded that students exhibited preferences of personality trait for Openness to Experiences. Agreeableness and Consciousness were the next ranked personality trait. This is in agreement with the previous research done on this topic (Kang, 2012). Extroversion (M=18, 50) and Neuroticism (M=18, 87) had the lowest mean, which means that students were not extroverts and they did not feel neurotic while learning the language. The results of SILL showed that the most preferred leaning strategies among students was Cognitive (M=29, 21) learning strategy. Memory (M=19, 97) learning strategy was the second ranked learning strategy among students, followed with Metacognitive (M=18, 90) learning strategies. The least preferred learning strategy was Compensation Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2017, 4(5) 83 (M=12, 56) learning strategy, followed with Social (M=12, 37) strategy. Current research findings do not correspond with the results of the previous research done on the similar topic. Su’s (2005) results showed that students exhibited preferences for social strategy. She investigated Taiwanese vocational college students majoring in Applied Foreign Language. Wharton (2000) also conducted study among University students in Singapore and found that they preferred social learning strategy. However, Politzer (1983) in her study found that her students preferred memorization learning strategy. This is more in line with the results from the current research. From this it can be claimed that student’s learning strategies have changed, most probably with the current changes and trends in technology and approach to education. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION The main objective of this study was to determine the level of the Five Factors among IUS students, and to find out whether there is any relationship between personality traits and language learning strategies. The analysis confirmed strong correlation between personality traits and language learning strategies. The personality factor that has the most powerful modifying personality in this research is Openness to Experience. This is most probably due to its relationship with intellectual functionality and huge dependence on genetic factors. Being aware of what works for a student in successful language learning may play decisive role towards foreign language success. It also can increase self-confidence and motivation in students. Personality traits of the students should be taken into consideration when planning foreign language classes as it can add an extra value and guidance in successful language learning. Using this information, professional course developers will be able to bring important issues in language learning closer to the students, so that they will be able to achieve best learning results. Making students aware about their personality trait and the type of strategy they employ while learning the language may also increase their interests and motivation. Once made aware about these different issues students will be able to explain their personality traits so that they will be empowered to learning in a variety of learning situations. Since Cognitive strategy was the highest ranked strategy in the current research context, students should have been given an opportunity to approach their learning tasks from this perspective. Language instructors should take into consideration the research results and try to plan and structure their classes so that they reflect students’ preferences. REFERENCES Bongaerts, T., Planken, B. & Schils, E. (1995). Can late learners attain a native accent in a foreign language? A test of the critical period hypothesis. In D. Singleton & Z. Lengyel (Eds), The age factor in second language acquisition (30– 50.). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 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