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Individual characteristics of learners

This article is about individual characteristics of learnersThis article rise such aspects as beliefs about language learning, age, language aptitude and intelligence, affective states such as motivation, personality, sociocultural factors, because all these aspects have affect on personal knowledge of learners.

Individual characteristics of learners began to study in the late 19th century. Many scientific articles have been written on this theme, raising such peculiarities of learners as age, motivation, the study of human mental ability, personality, gender and many others. This topic is relevant today because the expanding of international contacts among the urgent tasks facing the modern school, the task of improving the quality of mastering a foreign language is paramount. To solve this problem it is important to a comprehensive study of age and individual differences of students on typical predisposition to methods for mastering of a foreign language.

Individual characteristics related to person knowledge. Wenden (1991) argues that person knowledge is «general knowledge and learners may know about the laws of human learning» (p 35). It can help us to consider the following points such as what aims students set for themselves, what they want to achieve and what they know about themselves in the learning process. Teacher should pay attention not only gifted children, but also interaction between learners, their anxiety, family situation, socio-cultural factors and motivation of learners in language learning. According to these factors, academic performance of students will increase if all of these factors will be considered in training and learning. Thus, let’s examine the role of these factors in learning process.

Learners’ beliefs play important role in education. Student’s belief has strong influence performance in class. It depends on students' motivation to learn the language and its own self-esteem a lot. Learners often occurs language barrier, because they are afraid to make mistakes in speech and looks silly. So, the teacher should pay a huge attention on this problem and develop positive self-esteem in students. It helps to make lessons more effective and useful for every language learners. Studies reveal that learners’ beliefs and perceptions, which they determine, also impact on learners’ behavior (Bandura & Schunk, 1981; Como, 1986; Cotterall, 1995; Mc Combs, 1984). If the student highly motivated to learn the language and he believes in himself, it will be easier to learn the language and move forward. Furthermore, he will seek to communicate with native speakers in order to promote their level.

According to learners’ beliefs, the teacher can develop a good and quality strategy to succeed in teaching students. However, must also be taken into account previous experience of students.

Age is easier to measure than motivation or expectations of learners. Nevertheless, the relationship between learners’ age and the potential for success in the language process begins the subject of much lively discussion. It was observed that immigrant children learn languages are easier than their parents. Their parents rarely reach such high levels of mastery of colloquial speech. However, there are cases where adult language learners distinguished their exceptional performance. For example, you can often see a reference to Joseph Conrad, who was native speaker of Polish, but he became a writer in the English language. Thus, many adult language learners achieve the ability to communicate in the language with great success, but accent, the choice of words or grammatical structures distinguish them from native speakers, who began to learn the language from an early age. Here is a hypothesis which states that «there is a time in human development when the brain is predisposed for success in language learning». Developmental changes in the brain are said to affect the nature of language acquisition. According to this view, language learning, which occurs after the critical period can not be based on innate biological structures that are considered to cause the first language acquisition in early childhood. It is argued that these general learning abilities are not so successful for language learning as specific, innate abilities that are available for a small child. It is often argued that the critical period ends somewhere around puberty, but some researchers suggest that it may be earlier.

Undoubtedly children and adults are difficult to compare, because language learning environment is very different. Younger students have more time to learn the language, they have more opportunities to hear and speak the language in an environment where they get less pressure. Adult learners have more difficult environment and language. They have to speak more complex and express their ideas and opinions. Adult learners have a greater propensity to disappointment in language learning in situations, when they can’t say what they want. They can develop a sense of inadequacy and inability to learn the language.

Thus, age is considered to be an actual topic for language learning. It has its own characteristics in the learning process. For example, children can study language without difficulties and efforts. Many scientists argue that language must be studied in early age. , Pinker said that language learning «… is guaranteed for children up to the age of six» (1994: because young children learn language better. Children's memory absorbs the necessary information very quickly at this time. Furthermore, it is easier to motivate children,

using such important sources of interest for children in the classroom as pictures, stories and games. However, adults have a longer concentration span. Teachers commonly notice that they cannot get children to concentrate on certain learning activities as long as they can get adults to do so. However, as I mentioned above, the problem is not the concentration span itself – children will spend hours absorbed in activities that really interest them – but rather the ability of the individual to persevere with something of no immediate intrinsic interest to them. Here older learners do exhibit noticeable superiority, because they tend to be more self-disciplined. One implication for teaching is the need to devote a lot of thought to the interest value of learning activities for younger learners.

Finally, teacher should choose necessary activities for children, adolescents or adults to motivate them in language learning.

Motivation is one of the main factors in language learning. The abstract term «motivation» on its own is rather difficult to define. It is easier and more useful to think in terms of the «motivated» learner: one who is willing or even eager to invest effort in learning activities and to progress. However, the term «motivation» can be defined as the forces that account for the arousal, selection, direction, and continuation of behavior. Learner motivation is influenced by both internal and external factors that can start to develop of learner interest or prevent language learning (Reeve, 1996).

Internal factors include individual characteristics of learners such as responsibility; desire to learn the language, goals and interests of learners. Environment, interaction to classmates, family or teachers is related to external factors. All these factors impact on language learning. Obviously, teachers should find an approach to each learner, taking into account the interests of the student and external factors affecting it. It should be noted that the teacher is faced with different motivations teaching learners with varying academic performance. Psychological studies have found a close relationship between a successful learning (strong, medium, weak group), and attitude toward teaching.

Thus, a strong group of students can be characterized by high success for all or many subjects, good quality independent work, organization, diligence. Average group represents the bulk of students performing learning tasks satisfactorily and not showing much interest in the methods of work. This group may have a two subgroups: "medium-power" characterized by a strong tendency to move in a group , "medium-law" the tendency of transition in a weak group . Weak group includes students who do not meet their school assignments, lagging in some subjects, underachieving, children with developmental delays, difficult to bring up. These groups differ in interest in teaching: a high, stable, motivated interest is typical for strong (80%) and medium-power (59%); uncertain, unstable, unmotivated interest for medium-groups (medium-weak 45%, average 40% medium-power 34%), typically no interest for the weak group (100%) and for the medium-weak (42%) and mediumpower (36%) groups.

Differences in attitudes to learning are traced and equally performing learners. A group of well-performing and poorly performing groups are heterogeneous, because there are significant differences in learning motivation. This means that teacher is well known, for example, that some good achievers reveal a strong motivation, they are goodoriented in lessons, they formed volitional processes, they grasp a new information quickly at the same time as others good achievers also have full motivation, but they do not own goal setting process, work slowly and with the help of the teacher, are making significant efforts to spend a lot of time. This factor leads to the conclusion that the approach to such students will be completely different.

Working with the individual characteristics of learners’ motivation is very important to consider the following principal provisions: a well-designed learning process should not lead to a leveling of the individual characteristics of students, and to increase their individual differences, to the flourishing of the individuality of each student. In other words, in the course of educational work should strive not only to ensure that take into account and accurately identify, but also to assess the motivation state but mainly to ensure that generate new forms of students' learning activities (more mature types of educational objectives, learning activities, self-control and self action, individual style of learning activity), as well as bring new levels of motivation through the birth of new students' motives, setting new purposes, enrichment exercises deeper meaning and more mature emotions. All this contributes to customize teaching and motivation. Individual features of academic work better recognized and enhanced in the frontal and group work. It means that individuality is expressed most fully in a good team.

Thus, learner motivation occupies an important place in the learning process. Knowing the individual characteristics of the learners, the teacher can build effective learning process for each learner and for a group or class in general.

Personality. The aim of this volume is to provide an overview of research into personality as it impinges upon learning. The term «personality» is open to many interpretations. We have in mind differences between students in personal characteristics other than intelligence, but we now attempt to define this term more carefully. The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives two meanings: (1) being a person; personal existence or identity; (2) distinctive personal character. Within psychology, Allport (1937:48) has defined personality as: «The dynamic organization within the individual of that psychological system that determine his unique adjustments to his environment». Allport said: «The outstanding characteristics of man are his individuality. There was never a person just like him, and there never will be again» (Jerry M. Burger «Personality»).

Child (1968: 83) provides the following definitions: More or less stable internal factors that make one person’s behavior consistent from one time to another and different from the behavior other people would manifest in comparable situations.

A learner’s personality also determines the ways a learner controls his/ her emotions and feelings during the learning process.

Much research has been done to identify the learning needs and characteristics of individuals based on their personality type. For each of the preferences, you will find a few notes about how different people can be reached success in the learning process.

In addition to this, there are some interesting twists brought to our understanding of

human behavior by the temperament research of Carl Jung. Although not as widely researched as the Big Five, various instruments that measure these temperament factors are widely used and certainly affect the workplace. Let’s explore these factors.

The Jungian research places human temperament along four continuums:

  1. Extroverted (E), Introverted (I);
  2. Sensing (S), Intuitive (N);
  3. Thinking (T), Feeling (F);
  4. Judging (J), Perceiving (P).

The first dimension, represented by the letters E and I, characterizes people as either extroverted or introverted. The terms «extrovert» and «introvert» were first used and developed by Carl Gustav Jung as part of his theories (Jung 1987); since then extrovert and introvert has become a widely and generally acknowledged and used personality construct. This is similar to the Big Five personality trait of extroversion, but the temperament research defines it a bit differently. In the temperament research, we are talking more about where people get their energy. Extroverted people derive their energy from the outside world of other people, but introverted people gain strength from their internal thoughts and ideas. Division of people into extroverts and introverts types shall be based on qualities such as sociability, talkativeness, ambition, assertiveness, activity, and several others. Studies have shown that introverts are modest, shy, retiring; prefer books to communicate with people. They are reserved and have a few friends, but betrayed them. Extroverts, on the contrary, open, courteous, affable, sociable, have lots of friends and prone to verbal communication. They are sociable, talkative, ambitious, assertive and active. Even if extroverts argue, they allow themselves to influence. Jung wrote that «extroverts are subject to external requirements are not without a fight, but always take the top of the external conditions». According to A.V. Penskoi obtained during the examination of children of 5-7 years, extroverts efficiency of different types of memory, especially short-shaped, higher than introverts. According to E. Horvath and

H. Eysenck (E. Howarth, H. Eysenck, 1968), extroverts are better than introverts commemorated the information stored in shortterm memory, and those, on the contrary, successfully reproduce the information that is stored in non-volatile memory. However, these trends are confirmed, not all studies.

Extroverts have above results when they are making tasks synthetic type, while introverts have better results, making analytic type. It is believed that introverts better trained, than extroverts, although they haven’t differences in intelligence level. Obviously, this difference in performance is associated with great diligence and obedience introverts. The second dimension is intuition versus sensing. This trait describes how people prefer to collect information. Intuitive personalities like to get information subjectively and intuitively, usually without a formal system. In contrast, sensing personalities prefer to collect factual information systematically, based on the five senses they like things they can see and touch, for example). Intuitive types prefer to get the overall picture of an experience, but the sensing type prefers to have the details. The intuitive personalities would be a good fit for jobs requiring innovation, creatively, conceptualization and vision. Sensing personalities fit better with quantitative data analysis, practical and specific tasks, and lobs that call upon their sense of orderliness.

Thinking versus feeling is the third temperament dimension. This dimension identifies the way in which people make decisions. Thinking people prefer to use logic and facts to decide, but feeling personalities prefer to focus on how people will feel about and be affected by the decision. Thinking types use cause-and-effect reasoning and the scientific method to consider the evidence objectively without emotional involvement. Feeling types weight the options against their personal values more than their rational logic. People in the thinking category tend to be analytical, critical, impersonal, and objective. Their preference is for the «bottom line» logic and rationale. People in the feeling end of the dimension show more empathy and appreciation, use their hearts rather than their heads to consider implications, are much more likely to consider the human values, and prefer to be personal and subjective in the decision-making process.

The perceiving versus judging dimension refers to how much information a person requires before feeling comfortable in making a decision. Those in the judging category prefer to make decisions and resolve problems quickly. At the opposite end of the spectrum, perceiving people prefers to be adaptable to events and flexible enough to keep their options open. Judging types work hard to get closure on issues. They like to be decisive and methodical, prefer minimal information on which to base their decisions. Perceivers are more curious and spontaneous prefer to collect as much information as possible to make decision, and like having options.

In this way, perceivers are better at collecting and analyzing data, but they may hesitate too long in deciding and taking action.

In conclusion, we emphasize that only a profound study and knowledge of the individual characteristics of development of each learner creates the conditions for a successful process of training and education.

According to given characteristics of learners found out that the man's personality is formed and developed as a result of exposure to multiple factors, objective and subjective, natural and social, internal and external, independent and dependent on the will and consciousness of people acting spontaneously or according to specific objectives. In this case the person was not conceived as a passive creature that shows photographically external influence. He appeared as the subject of own formation and development.

Exploring this theme gives you the opportunity to compare the features of physical development, gives a comparative analysis of the neuro-psychological and cognitive areas of students of different ages and shows their impact on the organization of training activities. Also the study of the topic shows what features are characterized by behavior and personal development of students of different age groups, determine the matters which should be the focus of teachers in the study of individual characteristics of students.


  1. Blickle G. (1996) Personality traits, learning strategies and performance. European Journal of Personality, p 337-352
  2. Cajkler W. (2000) The practice of Foreign Language Teaching. Abingdon
  3. Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational Strategies in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Gerald Matthews, Ian J. Deary, Martha C. Whiteman (2003). Personality Traits. Cambridge University Press, Psychology 493 pages
  5. Jerry M. Burger (2011) Personality –p 3
  6. Lightbown P.M. (2003) How languages are learned. Oxford
  7. Madrid, D. (1995). “Internal and external factors in language teaching.” in Actas de las 1as Jornadas de Estudios Ingleses. Jaén: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad.
  8. Robinson, P. (2002). (ed.). Individual Differences and Instructed Language Learning. Philadelfia: John Benjamins Publishing Company
  9. W. Ray Crozier (1997) individual learners: Personality differences in education.

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