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Extra info for Ambivalence, Attitude Strength and Response Instability
The second central point to make about aptitude is that it is multicomponential in nature and therefore we can expect some variation within individuals with regard to their specific mental abilities; that is, for example, someone with a superior verbal ability may be relatively weak at reasoning tasks. Ability and Language Learning As we have seen above, the term intelligence is often used to denote the ‘ability to learn’ and in fact, the first modern intelligence test, the 1905 Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale, was originally developed to identify pupils who could not benefit from regular instruction in school classrooms because of their limited mental ability.
Definitions The Collins Cobuild Dictionary defines personality as one’s “whole character and nature,” and according to Pervin and John’s (2001) standard definition, personality represents those characteristics of the person that “account for consistent patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving” (p. 4). Such a broad view of personality allows for a wide range of approaches to its study as long as the emphasis is on ‘consistent patterns,’ a condition that is in full accordance with the principles guiding the birth of psychology as an academic discipline in the early 20th century, powerfully articulated by one of the pioneers of the field, J.
In this chapter we take a closer look at what components this construct subsumes, how it is measured, and what its role is in the SLA process. We also consider how conceptualizations of aptitude have changed over the years and what this tells us about current understandings of the psychology of the L2 learner. A consistent theme throughout the chapter will be the observation that the interest in and understandings of ability have gone hand in hand with aptitude assessment. According to Cooper (2002), ability testing stretches back 4,000 years to when the Chinese used a form of ability testing to select candidates for their civil service; and indeed, the accurate identification of who will benefit from a particular course of education, or which job applicants are likely to perform best if appointed, is still seen as having important financial and personal benefits.