Personality and languages

Il nostro modo di essere influisce sull’apprendimento delle lingue. Scopri il tuo tipo di personalità con un test famoso in tutto il mondo e vedi come questo influisce sul tuo metodo d’apprendimento. (Prima parte)

Personal inclination plays a strong role on the things we are good or not good at. From our early age, we notice that some of us are more inclined to maths, while others excel in humanities, and so on. The first category of children will probably become engineers while the second are more likely to be the next generation of journalists or writers.

However, we often find ourselves in the situation of having to learn something we don’t feel we have talent for, and for some that can be learning a language. But what is talent? And how can we make the most of our natural abilities when learning a language?

First of all, success in acquiring a new skill is determined by various factors, among which, unsurprisingly, is intelligence. By the term “intelligence” we mean the cognitive ability to absorb information, organize it in patterns and develop strategies to achieve a goal. Nonetheless, people with the same IQ but different personality are likely to develop different abilities: “general intelligence may be able to predict what a person can do whereas personality type may predict what a person is likely to do” (Sharp 2008).

How can we measure personality? One of the most well-known models to determine this is the one theorized by psychologist Isabel Myers-Briggs. The personality test associated with this theory is taken by thousands of people every year and used to help high schoolers find a career suitable to their personal inclinations.

Simplifying, the Myers-Briggs theory identifies four main factors which define our character:

– Introversion (I) or Extroversion (E): contrary to common belief, introversion does not identify itself with timidity. This trait tells us how a person obtains energy and motivation: the introvert gains energy from their inner resources, while the extrovert tends to look for stimulation from the outside world. Timidity is simply fear of social interaction; therefore, an extrovert can be shy whereas an introvert can be quite blunt and unafraid of people’s judgement.

– Sensing (S) or Intuition (N): the second trait determines how a person absorbs information. The person with a preference for sensing (S) will use his/her five senses as a preferred channel to perceive the world. Intuitive types also use their senses but tend to give more space to their intuition, namely the ability to connect information in patterns or foresee possible outcomes of given facts. People who prefer sensing tend to be more down-to-earth and practical, while intuitive types have a tendency to miss details but also to be more imaginative.

– Thinking (T) or Feeling (F): namely, how an individual makes a decision. Thinking types tend to value logic and facts over emotions, while feeling types consider more how a decision affects the people around them and their own values. For thinking types, truth and objectivity are generally more important than people’s feelings.

– Judging (J) or Perceiving (P): the last trait describes the strategy we use to approach life. The preference for judging implies a tendency to “get things done”, close the circle and draw conclusions with the information acquired. Perceivers, on the contrary, are more open-ended thinkers. Therefore, they have more difficulty drawing the line where the perception of information stops and action begins. They can be – but not always the case – procrastinator and a bit lazy. On the other hand, if a judging type gives excessive space to this trait they can become closed-minded and too stubborn.

Combining the letters of these four traits we can get 16 different personality types, for example ENFP or INTJ. Note that the actual Myers-Briggs theory is more complex than this and takes the cognitive functions into account, for further information, take a look here.

Now, before further ado, take the test Myers-Briggs test here! Seriously. Next time we’ll see how you learn languages.

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