International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 8 Issue 1 (June 1998), Pages 3-159

English proficiency and academic achievement in relation to extraversion: a preliminary study (pages 113-130)

There is a clear contradiction between the predictions of psychologists and applied linguists regarding the relationship between extraversion and learning. Psychologists claim that extraversion is a disadvantage for learning on the grounds that an extravert has less cortical arousal, is more easily inhibited and has a limited long‐term memory. In contrast, many applied linguists predict that extraversion is an advantage for learning a second/foreign language, based on the assumption that an extravert elicits more input and produces more output. To resolve this conflict, forty Iranian, non‐English Major Ph.D. students who took the TOEFL and IELTS were given the Persian restandardised form of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire twice. They were also asked to report their grade point averages (GPAs) for their school diploma, Bachelor's and Master's degrees. A negative but non‐significant relationship was found between extraversion and GPAs. An even weaker but still negative relationship emerged between extraversion and both the totals and sub‐scores for TOEFL and IELTS. Thus extraversion may not help in developing either linguistic skills or even communicative skills in such an Iranian EFL situation where there is no exposure to English and where non‐communicative teaching methods are used in English classes. This preliminary research led to our main study (Kiany 1997d) which includes three different subsamples – no English exposure, exposure to English only in classes, and exposure to the language in a natural English‐speaking environment – as well as a much wider variety of measurements of English proficiency.

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