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Extroverts are the good foreign language learners. does it turn out that introverts are the poor ones?

At the beginning of the article we would like to define what person can be called the good foreign language learner. The majority of psychological theories say about an exact set of qualities that this good learner must possess. And certainly such a type of personality as extrovert must be at the head of this set; he should not be afraid to take different risks at any action, he should be active and sociable, and also he should have a high self-esteem [1; pp. 25-26]. Indeed a learner, who does not have such qualities, cannot be good at learning of foreign language. Does it turn out that this learner is poor at foreign language learning? And can he never learn the language? In order to answer these questions we must try to understand a key part of concepts: an extrovert and an introvert; we must try to compare with

each other and reveal the qualities which will give us a firm belief that introverts are people who are not any worse than extroverts and that they also have the right and capability to learn a foreign language.

Primarily we should study a set of qualities: risk-taking, activity, sociability and high self-esteem. There is no doubt that risktaking is a quality which promotes success in foreign language learning. This quality is appreciated in communication as it is an ability of being eager to try out new information intelligently regardless of embarrassment. “But risk-taking is a situation where a person has to make a decision involving choice between alternatives. And the result of the choice is uncertain so there is a possibility of failure. Some specialists consider that the failures are positive because they can turn into an experience [2; p. 36]. All people learn from their mistakes as the saying is.

As to activity, the extroverts have it in the form of their prompt actions. But everyone knows a good proverb – Haste makes waste! Without a doubt, quick performance of tasks in a classroom is a good quality, but it does not mean that tasks are performed correctly.

As far as sociability is concerned, we just can point to the fact that the quality is actual, because each of us live in the mobile world where everything moves and changes. But the main sense is that the quality does not need to be wasted because it is equal to time. We may waste time easily, communicating with somebody about nothing. And in fact our life has a lot of interesting things, one of which is foreign language learning.

If we examine self-esteem, it is very important quality as without it a person cannot estimate himself, his virtues and shortcomings. In our quick changing world we need to appreciate our own qualities and turn our shortcomings into virtues. The self-esteem should not be high for a learner of foreign language; he should be self-confident at the most, confident in his conversation and thoughts.

Our world is so created that a person should be a psychologist in certain situations. Certainly all teachers must have this trait as just they help to reveal a special person inside every learner. Teachers are simply obliged to understand and come to know their learners, help everyone individually to cope with a problem or difficulty. Learners can be absolutely different in character, on temperament and by other characteristics, but generally all learners can be divided into two groups: extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are people who are completely aimed at an outside world. They like communication, because it energizes them. They are leaders at all times and in all places. They are cheerful and open. And introverts, on the contrary, are aimed at their inner world. They live on their own feelings and thoughts. They get tired of communication quickly; they even avoid it at times [3; p. 18]. If every teacher will know who is who: who introvert is and who extrovert is, he can find a correct approach and apply it in the necessary case as well as work out a different teaching methodology for such learners.

If we think about these types of personality within foreign language learning, essentially extroverts predominate over introverts. What is important for extroverts? Certainly, it is communication. And what is in the centre of language learning? Undoubtedly, it is also communication because every learner who learns a foreign language should learn to speak in it. Nobody denies that firstly he should learn the theory of grammar, phonetics and vocabulary. But the final goal of the learning will always be a capability of communication with people in the language. It is possible to make a conclusion that extroverts are simply perfect for foreign language learning. They like to communicate; it means that they are the most active at lessons. They have an easy communication; it means that they have the most advanced spoken language at lessons. In a word extroverts are the good foreign language learners. Then it turns out that introverts do not reach to their standard of knowledge as they are not the good foreign language learners, and they even do not need to start a learning of foreign language. Certainly it is not so. Every person is capable in his own way. Perhaps, he just needs a different approach or a teaching method. There is no doubt that it will be difficult for every teacher to do the work when there are both extroverts and introverts in the class. It is possible to give such a situation for all teachers: for example, a teacher divided a class into two groups; there are all extroverts in the first group, and there are introverts in the second one; and, certainly, a teacher gave these groups a task. That turned out as a result: the group of extroverts made the task quickly and easily, and the group of introverts needed more time and many efforts to overcome an anxiety about communication. In this case there was the mistake of the teacher which affected poor introverted learners. But what does a teacher do in this situation? He can make the mixed groups in which will be both extroverts and introverts together, but in such a case there will be other problem. This problem will be showed in misunderstanding of each other. Then a teacher is obliged to work out a different method which would make it possible for introverts to work in their full powers.

Nobody denies the advantages of extroverts over introverts, especially if the point we want to make is speech habits, but, in no case it is impossible to underestimate such people, in other words, it is necessary to give them a chance to have advantages. In this case, it is necessary to note all advantages of introverts. Although they are not active, they have some problems with speech habits as they have a passive vocabulary, generally they use a longterm memory where they need more time for any activity, and also they often feel an internal anxiety before trying to speak something, but such people are good at other things:

  • Unlike extroverts, they have a lot of time that they cannot spend for nothing, and they can spend the time for foreign language learning;
  • Also unlike extroverts, they do not need an estimation of people around them as they are strong-willed persons who can make something impossible within their thoughts and feelings;
  • And, of course, as to memory, extroverts remember any information quickly and for a short while, and introverts remember information slowly and for a long time, in turn it is an important quality for foreign language learning.

There are many studies of psychologists which consider introverts only as avoidant people and people who are slow to learn things. But it is possible to fully disagree with them as introverts, having their disadvantages, can even predominate over extroverts. The next major point to consider is disadvantages of introverts: there are a self-esteem (or a selfconfident) and a feeling of anxiety, especially about communication. Generally introverts are not self-confident people and thus they always have a low self-esteem. They have this state because of the mobile world in which they feel strange. Actually our life is built on development, communication and thus introverts create their little world which is silent and quiet without any movements and in which there is no noise, and communication. Certainly, communication is an important thing for introverts, but it is important in own way, inwardly. Therefore such people as introverts are confident in their thoughts, ideas, while they are inside them [4; p. 11]. As to their anxiety, they always have it as our world is filled with the frequent incomprehension. And the anxiety of introverts is in every case. Especially the anxiety of introverts is shown during an attempt of communication as speaking something incorrectly for introverts is equal to all the day in a room with a thousand of people. It is clear that an internal anxiety and a lack of self-confidence are such things which remain inside introverts forever, but introverts are simply unique in other things which are important for foreign language learning.

Foreign language learning is not an easy process as it requires not only excellent knowledge of all language fundamentals, but also an ability to put these fundamentals into practice, and practice of language is communication. Then it turns out that a learning of language does not concern introverts at all and it is useless to try to learn it for them. This is not the truth as all people are many-sided. If communication is not a problem for extroverts, it means that they are going by a royal road. And if communication is a problem for introverts, it means that they can learn a language in a different way, by means of a special method which is peculiar to them, for example, by means of writing, reading or other methods. Actually if all people are manysided, they can use their abilities and qualities for any purpose.

The disadvantages of introverts considered above, cannot prevent them from learning a foreign language at all if introverts have a motivation in themselves to learn a foreign language, and it does not matter for whom they will learn a language: for parents, close friends or for themselves. Many specialists assert unanimously that such type of personality as introvert has greater motivation in the actions than extrovert. And each of us knows that a motivation is very important factor for foreign language learning. Also there are other abilities which are important for foreign language learning, for example:

Ability to listen to any information and understand it;

This ability is more characteristic for introverts, than for extroverts. Introverts listen to other people better and understand different points of view.

The following ability of no small importance is:

Ability to think at first, and then speak and take action.

Introverts are adapted extremely well for this ability because they are inherently inclined to think at first, and then speak and take action, but it is true that speaking is really difficult thing for them [5; p. 114]. And in a word extroverts have a spontaneous mess in speaking because they think and speak at the same time.

Also introverts are not afraid of complexity, and there are a lot of difficult aspects in foreign language learning. Besides introverts plan every action all the time, it means that the quality can be useful in a learning of foreign language. They can easily plan all process of foreign language learning. And the most important quality of introverts is their concentration as they can concentrate on foreign language learning and get to the core.

It is necessary to notice, that introverts are aimed at their inner world; it means that they are subjective in a greater degree. And extroverts are aimed at an outside world; it means that they are objective. On the one hand, objectivity is a positive phenomenon as it is an actual reflection of reality. But, on the other hand, this objectivity can find certain opinions of learners within lessons that are to state an objective extrovert will not have a personal opinion as the majority of people predominate there and everywhere. And a subjective introvert always has his opinion that he, certainly, hides in himself but his opinion will always be available. Presence of the opinion is very important factor in foreign language learning. But in any case specialists assert that the subjectivity of introverts, as well as the objectivity of extroverts is a reliable, significant and permanent basis for any beginnings, including foreign language learning.

It is necessary to mention that many papers of psychologists discover that introverts have the logical and precise thinking which is very important for every action. Also they note greater possibility of successful achievement in foreign language learning at introverts, than at extroverts [6; p. 131]. Consequently introverts can learn a foreign language on a level with extroverts.

The purpose of the article does not lie in the fact that we want to put extroverts behind introverts into line for success in foreign language learning as both extroverts and introverts have all possibilities for foreign language learning. They learn a foreign language simply by different ways, by different means: extroverts have sociability and activity, and introverts have concentration and planning. These two types of personality are such different but when business reaches a learning of foreign language, they achieve success almost equally in the learning.

In conclusion we can state with confidence that people who have such type of personality as extrovert are the good foreign language learners. But also such people as introverts are not worse than extroverts in foreign language learning. And it is possible to say safely that introverts are the good foreign language learners too.

The table with the short description of these two personalities is situated below for visual studying. The table contains the general ideas about extroverts and introverts, their styles of learning, and also strategies which will help them in foreign language learning [7]. This table can play an important role for every teacher before starting the teaching.

Table 1. The short description of two personalities: extroverts and introverts




What do

Extroverts are usually energized by being

Introverts are usually take energy from

these types

with people and interacting with them, and

their interior. They think best by them-

of personal-

can often think best if they can talk over

selves by processing ideas in their own

ity look like?

their ideas with other people.


What differ-

The extroverted learner learns more effec-

The introverted learner learns more

ent styles of

tively through concrete experiences, con-

effectively in individual, independent

learning do

tacts with the outside world, and relation-

situations. Their strengths are their

they have?

ships with others. They value group inter-

ability to concentrate on the task; how-


action and classwork done together with

ever, they need to process ideas before


other learners. They are willing to take

speaking which sometimes lead to


conversational risks, but are dependent on

avoiding linguistic risk-taking in con-


outside interaction.


What strate-

Learning together with others will be more

They learn best when they work alone.

gies of learn-

effective than learning by themselves – the

They think better and learn informa-

ing will help

stimulation received from group work will

tion more easily when learning by


help them learn and understand new infor-

themselves. They will enjoy using


mation better.

computers for learning.



  1. Dörnyei, Z. (2005) The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  2. Zafar, Sh. and Meenakshi, K. (2012) A study on the relationship between extroversion-introversion and risk-taking in the context of second language acquisition. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning.
  3. Wakamoto, N. (2009) Extraversion/ Introversion in Foreign Language Learning: Interactions with Learner Strategy Use. Bern: Peter Lang.
  4. Arnold, J. (1999) Affect in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  5. Leaver, B.L., Ehrman, M.E. and Shekhtman, B. (2005) Achieving Success in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  6. Hall, G. (2011) Exploring English Language Teaching: Language in Action. New York: Routledge.
  7. http://language.com.hk/articles/styles4.html

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