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Your personality type and language learning



According to Madeleine Ehrman, each of the preferences that make up a psychological type has its assets and liabilities when it comes to language learning.

Assets and liabilities

Here are the major assets and liabilities of each personality preference:






  • Willing to take conversational risks
  • Dependent on outside stimulation and interaction


  • Concentration
  • Self-sufficiency

  • Need to process ideas before speaking may lead to avoidance of risks in conversation


  • Hard, systematic work
  • Attention to detail
  • Close observation
  • Hindered by lack of clear sequence, goals, syllabus, structure in language or course


  • Inferencing and guessing from context
  • Structuring own training
  • Conceptualizing and model-building
  • Inaccuracy and missing important details
  • Seeking complexity of discourse


  • Analysis
  • Self-discipline
  • Instrumental motivation

  • Performance anxiety because self-esteem is attached to achievement
  • Excessive need for control (language and process)


  • Integrative motivation, bonding with teachers or speakers of language
  • Good relations leading to good self-esteem
  • Discouraged if not appreciated
  • Disrupted by lack of interpersonal harmony


  • Systematic work
  • Get the job done (whatever it is)
  • Rigidity
  • Intolerance of ambiguous stimuli


  • Open
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable to change and new experiences
  • Laziness
  • Inconsistent pacing over the long haul

Ehrman 1989

See also
  To see how other aspects of your learning style can be used to your advantage, see

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 21 March 1999

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