The Influence of Level of Extroversion, Locus of Control and Gender on Listening and Reading Proficiency in Second Language Acquisition

by Magdalena Trinder (Author)
©2017 Monographs 178 Pages


This book is an investigation into the correlation between level of extroversion, orientation of locus of control and gender. Level of extroversion and gender are widely recognised as key factors influencing the process of Second Language Acquisition, although there remains much debate as to the nature of this influence. Locus of Control has equally been identified as a key predictor of success in academic learning. Taking these points into consideration, the authors analyze the correlation between these three key factors and success in reading and listening on students of English at the university level. The investigation includes both a quantitative analysis and qualitative explanatory interviews.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 General introduction to, and overview of SLA
  • 1.1 Taxonomy
  • 1.1.1 Second Language Acquisition
  • 1.1.2 Gender
  • 1.1.3 Extroversion
  • 1.1.4 Locus of Control
  • 1.2 The growth of interest in Language Acquisition
  • 1.3 The development of a coherent theory of SLA
  • Chapter 2 The Individual Factors influencing SLA
  • 2.1 Socio-cultural influences
  • 2.2 Psychological influences
  • 2.2.1 Motivation
  • 2.2.2 Attitude
  • 2.2.3 Anxiety
  • 2.2.4 Risk-taking
  • 2.2.5 Self-efficacy
  • 2.2.6 Locus of Control
  • 2.2.7 Personality
  • 2.3 Cognitive influences
  • 2.3.1 Learning styles
  • 2.3.2 Cognitive styles
  • 2.3.3 Learning strategies
  • 2.3.4 Language aptitude
  • 2.3.5 Working memory
  • 2.3.6 Intelligence
  • 2.4 Physical influences
  • 2.4.1 Age
  • 2.4.2 Gender
  • Chapter 3 Research Design and Results
  • 3.1 Theoretical Considerations
  • 3.1.1 Theoretical Assumptions
  • 3.1.2 Research Questions and Hypotheses
  • 3.2 Research Methodology
  • 3.2.1 The Research Context and Participants
  • 3.2.2 Instrumentation
  • Reading and Listening Comprehension Materials
  • The Rotter Social Reaction Inventory
  • The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire
  • Individual Qualitative Interview
  • 3.2.3 Procedure
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • 3.3 Results
  • 3.3.1 Quantitative Results
  • 3.3.2 Qualitative Interviews
  • Case 1
  • Case 2
  • Case 3
  • Case 4
  • Case 5
  • Case 6
  • Case 7
  • Case 8
  • Case 9
  • Case 10
  • Case 11
  • Case 12
  • Case 13
  • Case 14
  • Case 15
  • Chapter 4 Discussion
  • 4.1 Quantitative Data Analysis
  • 4.1.1 The Level of Extroversion of the Sample Population and Gender
  • 4.1.2 The Locus of Control of the Sample Population and Gender
  • 4.1.3 The Correlation between Locus of Control and Level of Extroversion
  • 4.1.4 The Relationship between Listening and Reading Achievement
  • 4.1.5 Hypothesis 1
  • 4.1.6 Hypothesis 2
  • 4.1.7 Hypothesis 3
  • 4.2 Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Appendices
  • Series index

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The father of modern linguistic thought, Renes Descartes (1960:42), made one of the most poignant observations on the nature of language when he stated that ‘[F]or it is a very remarkable thing that there are no men, not even the insane, so dull and stupid that they cannot put words together in a manner to convey their thoughts.’ The implication here is obvious: that every human has the capacity to use language. It is therefore a matter of considerable curiosity that, while we can all speak one language perfectly, many people singularly fail in the task of mastering a second language. The failings of students to master many academic disciplines might be explained away by lack of ability or predisposition as we have no proof of the existence (or lack thereof) of a default ability for mathematics, physics or geography; but we do have proof that everybody can communicate, so by logical extension everybody should be able to learn a second language. This educational mystery is the inspiration for the following work, the desire to investigate the reasons why some people are more successful than others in their efforts to gain mastery over another language.

Within the linguistic sub-discipline of Second Language Acquisition, the study of individual learner differences has taken centre stage as researchers strive to find a comprehensive explanation as to why learners have differing levels of success despite apparently similar learning conditions. This search has taken us in a wide variety of directions, some distinct and some which overlap, leading to the creation of an intricate web of interrelated mechanisms. The ability to use effectively a foreign language is a sine qua non of the skills set of any young person forging their way in the modern world, a fact which makes the need to understand the reasons for failure in the learning process an educational priority. Poland’s entry into the European Union and the subsequent influx of foreign investors and business, and the increased possibilities for young people from Poland to work abroad, has seen a meteoric rise in the number of people studying languages to an ever higher degree. My personal interest in this field has developed in the decade during which I have gained my professional experience as a language teacher and, more recently, as an academic instructor.

Of all the differences that I could have chosen, I have sought to investigate three which I believe have relevance to university level studies. The first of those is the question of gender, which first piqued my curiosity during my early teaching experience when I started to notice such things as the varied communication strategies of males and females. These casual observations were deepened when I ← 9 | 10 → entered the academic world and noticed first-hand the level of feminisation existent in English Philology – since the beginning of my employment no more than 25% of my students have been males. Thus I was keen to determine if there was a reason for the female heavy ratio in Philological studies based on levels of attainment. During the early part of my research it soon became clear that one of the fundamental areas of difference between males and females can be found in their respective personalities, thus leading me to extend my initial line of enquiry to include the level of extroversion and Locus of Control. Both level of extroversion and Locus of Control were chosen from among the multitude of psychological factors which have been claimed to influence levels of success in language acquisition not only because they have been proven to be influential in predicting performance in higher education, but also because both factors remain relatively under-investigated in Polish reality. When it comes to the choice of measure of levels of proficiency, I was primarily guided by selecting skills which could be objectively quantified. While speaking and writing are the traditional object of interest of researchers because of the fact that they are the typical yardsticks of the measurement of language ability, there remains the troublesome question as to how one can work into a framework the multiple facets of spoken and written performance.1 In addition to this technical problem, I also took into account the fact that the receptive skills are widely used in the assessment of a learner’s abilities, thus making it an integral part of the language learning process. Thus the final shape of the study was ultimately determined, whereby I shall investigate the relationship between the level of extroversion, locus of control and gender of the learners and their correlation with the levels of reading and listening proficiency. Owing to the complex nature of the human sciences, it is not advisable to rely purely on quantitative data to draw conclusions, so it was decided to adopt a two-staged mixed method approach with a quantitative phase followed by a qualitative phase. This is commonly referred to as an explanatory sequential mixed method approach, whereby the secondary – qualitative – stage is intended to provide an additional interpretative function (Creswell 2014:224).

The work has been divided into four chapters, the first of which is devoted to a discussion of the main taxonomy of the work, in order to ensure that there is no ambiguity and misunderstanding in the application of often debatable terminology. The chapter then proceeds to a presentation of the general development of ← 10 | 11 → the field of Second Language Acquisition in order to provide a clear and relevant context. Chapter Two moves into a greater focus on the research conducted into individual learner differences, which I have divided thematically into socio-cultural differences, psychological differences, cognitive differences and physical differences. Chapter Three is devoted to a description of the practical investigation. First the methodology of the mixed method approach will be explained, including a discussion of the instrumentation used, then the quantitative and qualitative stages of the investigation will be presented before the results of the two stages are presented. Chapter Four delves into the results in greater detail and seeks to make sense of the mass of data generated from both the quantitative investigation and the qualitative interviews before the final conclusions are presented and the future implications are laid out.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank a number of people, without whom this work would never have been completed. First and foremost I would like to express my deepest and heartfelt gratitude to my supervisor and inspiration, Professor Agnieszka Uberman, who not only took a leap of faith in taking me under her wing, but had the courage to let me follow my own path, constantly demonstrating an unfailing trust in my abilities, even when my own belief was waning. Secondly, I would like to thank Professor Teodor Hrehovcik and Professor David Singleton for their kindness and honesty in reviewing the work. Last, but by no means least, I would express my thanks to my loving family, who stood by me and gave me the support and belief necessary to make it to the end.

1 Here, as an example, one might elicit such things for speaking as pronunciation (which in itself is widely regarded as immeasurable), the accuracy of grammatical structures used, the range of structures used, the range and accuracy of vocabulary, the cohesion and coherence of the utterances, and so on.

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Chapter 1 General introduction to, and overview of SLA


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (September)
Psychology Language Learning Applied Linguistics Personality Receptive Skills
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 178 pp., 19 tables, 4 ill.

Biographical notes

Magdalena Trinder (Author)

Magdalena Trinder earned her PhD at the University of Rzeszow, where she is currently employed. She is an active member of the Polish Association of Applied Linguistics.


Title: The Influence of Level of Extroversion, Locus of Control and Gender on Listening and Reading Proficiency in Second Language Acquisition
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182 pages