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Personality Preferences and Foreign Language Learning

Author(s): Raymond Moody


Source: The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 72, No. 4 (Winter, 1988), pp. 389-401
Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the National Federation of Modern Language
Teachers Associations
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Personality Preferences and Foreign
Language Learning
RAYMOND MOODY
University of Hawaii

SOMETIMES A WRITER CAN MAKE A POINT between extraversion and oral fluency in Eng-
most effectively when the reader participates lish. Outgoing people get higher ratings. Such
actively. With this in mind, the adventurous announcements, while interesting, do not tell
reader is invited to join in. The reason will be the teacher who stands in front of a classroom
explained later. Less venturesome readers may full of students specifically what teaching strate-
skip the next paragraph. gies may help introverts succeed too.
On a piece of paper, please write with theother Personality is important because personality
hand,your name, streetaddress,city, state, zip. traits make a difference in how people learn and
Stop here and do this much. Still with theother what they learn (McCaulley & Natter; Myres
hand, write: 1) one word describing how you & Myres). Further, much of one's personality
feel writing with that hand; and 2) one word is considered to be genetically determined
describing the quality of your work. (Barron). Estimates range from fifty to eighty
The faculty of the University of Hawaii at percent. While habits may change, the funda-
Manoa has decided to require one year of a for- mentals of personality do not.
For language teachers this means that dif-
eign language for all students beginning in
1988. Those entering in 1989 will be required ferent students perceive the world and inter-
to complete two years before graduation. "All pret it in basically different ways. As a result,
students" includes not only those of arts and sci- different students given the same presentation
ences but also those of the professional schools, may respond very differently, and these ways of
including business, education, engineering, responding may be fundamentally unchange-
able. For this reason, one cannot expect a stu-
nursing, social work, and tropical agriculture.
None of these professional schools has ever re- dent to adapt to the instructor. Rather, the in-
structor must design approaches that will take
quired a foreign language.
This paper reports a preliminary analysis of advantage of the student's unique talents.
data aimed at finding out what new learning This report first outlines one measure of per-
and teaching strategies these new students will sonality, the Myres-Briggs Type Indicator
require. The primary focus is on personality, (MBTI) and reviews the relationship of its four
the characteristic ways in which people respond scales to research on learning. The report then
to the world and the ways they prefer to learn. describes the personality types of 491 first- and
Although some relationships between personal- second-year students of French, German, and
ity and language learning have been explored, Spanish at the University of Hawaii to see how
apparently no previous study has sought to they compare with a large sample of college stu-
compare the approaches of language learners dents. The language students are also com-
with those of other disciplines. pared with three specific groups: students of sci-
The effect of personality on language learn- ence, engineering, and business. This analy-
ing has been studied a number of times.2 For sis will suggest what kinds of teaching problems
example, Rossier found a positive correlation may be expected when a more diverse group
of students arrives in the classroom to complete
the new university requirement.
TheModernLanguageJournal, 72, iv (1988) The MBTI is designed to measure differences
0026-7902/88/0004/389 $1.50/0
?1988 TheModernLanguageJournal on four bi-polar scales: Extraversion-Introver-
sion, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and
390 Raymond Moody

Judging-Perceiving. The first scale is familiar


to most people. Extraverts (E) tend to be out- FIGURE I
MBTI Scale Description
going. Their interests flow exuberantly to the
outer world of actions, objects, and persons. In
Extraverts Introverts
contrast, Introverts (I) are more restrained,
Oriented to the outer Oriented to the inner
focusing mainly on the inner world of concepts world world
and ideas.
Focusing on people, Focusing on ideas,
The Sensing-Intuition scale deals with how things, and action concepts, inner impres-
a person prefers to perceive the world, either sions
through the five senses, paying attention to the Using trial and error Considering deeply before
with confidence acting
concrete, real, solid facts of experience (Sens-
Scanning the environment Probing inwardly for
ing, S), or by concentrating on abstract possi- for stimulation stimulation
bilities, meanings, and relationships (Intuition,
N). Sensing Intuitive
The third scale, Thinking-Feeling, measures
Perceiving with the five Perceiving with memory
how a person likes to make judgments or deci- senses and associations
sions regarding the information he acquires in Attending to practical Seeing patterns and
the form of sensory data and ideas. Thinking and factual details meanings
In touch with the physical
(T) types tend to be objective and impersonal. Seeing possibilities
realities
They analyze facts and order them in terms of
cause and effect. A Feeling person (F), on the Attending to the present Projecting possibilities for
moment the future
other hand, bases decisions on a subjective and
Confining attention to Imagining; "reading be-
personal weighting of values, on the importance what is said and done tween the lines"
of the choice for himself or herself and for Seeing "little things" in Looking for the big picture
others. everyday life
The fourth scale assesses how a person pre- Attending to step-by-step Having hunches; "ideas out
fers to live by Judging (J), that is, in a planned, experience of nowhere"
Letting "the eyes tell the Letting "the mind tell the
orderly way, seeking to regulate and control mind" eyes"
events, or by Perceiving (P), that is, in a
flexible, spontaneous way, aiming to under- Thinking Feeling
stand and adapt to events.
Using logical analysis Applying personal priorities
Figure I, adapted from Lawrence (22), sum- Using objective and Weighing human values
marizes the major features of each scale. impersonal criteria and motives, my own
Normal people do all of these things. For ex- and others
ample, we all have to collect facts (Sensing) in Drawing cause and effect Appreciating
order to have something to put together in the relationships
Being firm-minded Valuing warmth in rela-
form of ideas (Intuition). Sometimes we like to
tionships
be out in the world directly involved with Prizing logical order Prizing harmony
people, doing things (Extraverting). Other Being skeptical Trusting
times we want to pull back and be alone with
our own thoughts (Introverting). We are not Judging Perception
cut off from operating on one side or another. Using thinking or feeling Using sensing or intuitive
Rather, we tend to prefer one pole of each scale. judgment outwardly perception outwardly
Our approach to the world is comparable to Deciding and planning Taking in information
handedness. Most of us prefer the right hand Organizing and schedul- Adapting and changing
ing
for most things, but that does not mean we can- Curious and interested
Controlling and regulat-
not use the left hand at all. We are simply better ing
at most things with one hand than with the Goal oriented Open-minded
other. The four personality scales work in much Wanting closure, even Resisting closure to obtain
the same way. when data are incom- more data
plete
Myres shows that personality has a substan-
tial impact on achievement independent of apti-
tude. In some instances, personality makes as IQ (Myres & McCaulley). Schurr and Ruble
much difference in grade point average as does note that personality differences of college fresh-
Personality Preferences and Language Learning 391

men account for about forty points on the SAT


FIGURE II
exam and about ten percentile points on high
Learning Preferences Associated with Dimensions
of MBTI Type
school ranking. Lawrence (23) reviews the
studies on the MBTI and learning. Figure II,
Extraversion Introversion compiled primarily from Lawrence (23) and
Specific facts Ideas, relationships Morgan, cited in Lawrence (24), summarizes
Spontaneous action the major findings.
Thinking, depth of con-
centration Based on previous research with the MBTI,
Examples first Rule first we can make some predictions about the learn-
Talking, discussion, with Reading/verbal reasoning ing preferences of language students. Since lan-
a group
Social interaction guage involves the manipulation of words, sym-
Work alone
Oral tests Written tests bols, and abstractions, we would expect lan-
Practical application Concepts guage study to attract more Intuitive types
Psychomotor activity than Sensing types. To the extent that language
learning involves abstract rules and logical
Sensing Intuition analysis, one is more likely to find more Think-
Real, concrete, tangible Meanings, words, symbols, ing types than Feeling types populating lan-
abstractions guage classrooms. No predictions are made
Uncomplicated Complex concerning Extraversion-Introversion and
Tasks that call for care- Tasks that call for quick-
ness of insight and see- Judging-Perception.
fulness, thoroughness,
and soundness of ing relationships
understanding THE METHOD
Going step-by-step Finding own way in new
material, discovery Subjects. Students and instructors at all levels
Observing specifics Flashes of insight of French, German, and Spanish were invited
Rule-example with many Enough examples to get to participate. Two deans of the college also
variations the principle
volunteered. A total of 561 students completed
Memory of facts, details Grasping general concepts
Practical interests the MBTI, of which 497 were at the first- and
Imagination, possibilities
Performance, motor Intellectual interests (inde- second-year levels. Most were completing the
spatial intelligence pendent of aptitude- language requirement in the College of Arts
intelligence) and Sciences, where all BA degrees require at
Reading least one year of a language. A few were lan-
Objective choice tests Timed, essay tests, theory
guage majors.
To insure that the analysis would be as accu-
Thinking Feeling
rate as possible, students who omitted ten or
Objective Subjective
more answers on the MBTI were excluded. Six
Logical, systematic Value, merit
organization students were dropped, two from Spanish, four
Learning through personal
relationships from German, none from French, leaving a
Skeptical, critical Harmony, friendship total of 491.
Math, science, technical Social awareness The Instrument. The Myres-Briggs Type Indi-
skill
cator was selected to assess personality. Widely
used in colleges and business, it produces results
Judging Perceiving
Decisive usually quite meaningful to the taker (Carska-
Curious
Work in steady, orderly Work in flexible way, don, 9), and shows unique distributions for
way follow impulses, free- many other disciplines (Myres & McCaulley).
wheeling Test-retest reliability coefficients for Form G
Formalized instruction, Informal problem solving calculated for continuous scores on each MBTI
structure scale separately for each sex ranged from .48
Prescribed tasks Discovery tasks to .87 with a median of .82 (Carskadon,
Drive toward closure, 10).
Managing emerging Procedure. The MBTI was administered by the
completing problems teachers on a day of their choice, in class. A
Play by ear
Duty, application Go with the flow print-out describing the participant's personal-
On time Still open to more data ity as well as some features of their general ap-
proach to learning was returned to them the fol-
392 RaymondMoody
lowing week (Myres & McCaulley; McCaulley ing language (all down the fourth column) is
& Natter). The chi square test or, when a cell almost double that of the general college
frequency was zero, Fisher's exact probability sample. Twenty-nine percent of these language
test was used to analyze the results. students are Intuitive-Thinkers (see NT in the
right panel).
RESULTS Conversely, there are fewer students under
ISFJ. Looking down the SF column, one sees
Table I compares the distribution of 491 lan- Selection Ratio Indices around .50. Among the
guage students with a sample of 18,592 general language students, Sensing-Feeling types make
college students and includes people both below up only about half the percentage we find in
and above twenty-five years of age to match the the college sample. (See SF in the right panel.)
language students as closely as possible (Myres In the first column, the STs (Sensing-Thinking
& McCaulley: pp. 46, 48). types), the Selection Ratio Indices are close to
In Table I, the main panel displays in four- one, except for the last, ESTJ, which we shall
letter symbols the sixteen possible personality consider later. The proportion of Sensing-
"
types. "N = indicates the number of language Thinking types is almost the same for language
students in each category. The vertical bars students and the college sample. In the third
provide a graphic representation of the percent- column, the NFs (Intuitive-Feeling types), the
age. One bar equals one percent. The italicized Ratios are a little larger than one. Actually NFs
I stands for the Selection Ratio Index make up about thirty percent of the language
(McCaulley, 27). This ratio compares the per- students and constitute a significantly larger
centage of respondents in two groups. When proportion than appears in the general sample.
I is one, the percentage in each group is the The asterisks indicate that the differences be-
same. When I is less than one, the proportion tween language students and general college
is smaller in this group than in the comparison students are probably not accidental but more
group. When I is larger than one, the propor- likely mark a true difference. The probability
tion in this group is larger than in the compari- that these differences are due to random varia-
son group. The panel at the right shows the tion is less than five in a hundred or better.
percentages of various combinations of type Turning to the four MBTI scales, the right
and the corresponding Selection Ratio Indices. panel shows that Extraverts and Introverts are
Table I provides two important pieces of in- fairly evenly divided (51-49) and differ signifi-
formation. First, language students come in all cantly from the general sample. The Selection
sixteen types, though the percentages falling Ratio Index of 1.15 for Introverts shows that
within each differ considerably. The most language students are more often of this type
popular single personality type is in the third than are general college students. Language
column, third row, ENFP, with about eleven students favor Introversion; the wider popula-
percent of the language students. The least tion favors Extraversion. The fourth pair, the
popular are ESFP and ISFP, with about three Judgers and Perceivers, are also fairly evenly
percent and two percent, respectively. divided and show a similar difference. Lan-
Second, the table shows the percentage of guage students tend to favor Perception while
each type among language students compared the larger sample contains more Judgers.
with the percentage among general college stu- As we have already noted, language study
dents. Although the language students divide tends to attract far more Intuitives than Sen-
about evenly on each scale (see right panel), sors, about one and a half times more than
they differ significantly from the large college might be expected, just reversing the pattern
sample. in the college sample.
In the main panel, the top-right corner under Finally, the third pair, T-F, shows that lan-
INTJ, the Selection Ratio Index, I, is 2.12. A guage students, though almost equally divided,
little over twice as many INTJs are among the tend to favor Thinking over Feeling more often
language students as there are in the general than the college sample.
college sample. Just below, under INTP, lan- In summary, language students differ from
guage students number two and one-third times the large college sample in two major ways:
as many. In fact, the proportion of NTs study- First, there are many more Intuitive types and,
PersonalityPreferencesand Language Learning 393

TABLE I
MBTI Type Distribution of First- and Second-Year Language Students Compared with General College Sample

N = 491
% I
ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
E 49 0.88**
N= 49 N = 30 N=27 N=31 I 51 1.15**
I= 1.17 I=0.60** I= 1.54* I=2.12***
11111 IIIII illII S 41 0.68***
Il I N 59 1.49***
T 52 1.31***
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP F 48 0.80***
N =22 N= 11 N =40 N =4 J 51 0.90*
I=1.15 1= 0.39*** I= 1.42* I= 2.34*** P 49 1.13*
1111 11 11111
III IJ 28 1.10
IP 23 1.22*
ESTP ESFP ENFP ENTP EP 26 1.05
EJ 23 0.74***
N= 18 N=17 N = 56 N = 36
= 0.99 I=0.51** I= 1.14 1= 1.79*** ST 23 0.92
1111 i1 IIII! till' SF 18 0.51***
11111 II
I NF 30 1.21**
NT 29 1.98***
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ SJ 27 0.68***
SP 14 0.69***
N = 26 N= 29 N =25 N=34
I= 0.57** I= 0.48*** I=0.90 I= 1.75*** NP 35 1.50***
1111 11111 IIIII 11111 NJ 24 1.47***
I 11
TJ 28 1.15
TP 24 1.56***
***p<.001 FP 25 0.89
**p< .01 FJ 23 0.71***
*p<.05
IN 28 1.78***
EN 31 1.30***
IS 23 0.80**
ES 18 0.57***
= 1%, I= selection ratio index, I = Introvert, E = Extravert, S = Sensing, N = Intuitive, F = Feeling, T = Thinking,
J =Judging, P = Perception.
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. See text for further explanation.

conversely, fewer Sensing types. Second, applying rules in a more or less logical manner,
Thinking types outnumber Feeling types. precisely what Thinking types do best.
Minor differences slightly favor Introverts and This analysis shows the kind of students, in
Perceptives. terms of personality, who are presently study-
According toJung's theory, the high number ing a second language. The majority prefers to
of Intuitive and Thinking types is just what one focus on words and abstractions in ways that
should expect. Intuitives like to manipulate may be quite complex and to follow logical pro-
symbols and words, i.e., language. Further- cesses of reasoning. These results are consistent
more, a large number of language textbooks with other studies of personality and language
consist mainly of a collection of rules and drills. learning (see Bartz; Boylan; Cavanaugh; Ehr-
Language learning for many people involves man & Oxford; Ely; Lalonde & Gardner;
394 Raymond Moody
TABLE II
MBTI Type Distribution of Science Students Compared with First- and Second-Year Language Students

N = 705
% I
ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
E 38 0.77***
N=39 N=12 N = 44 N=128 I 62 1.22***
= 0.55** = 0.28*** I=1.13 I= 2.88***
11111 II 11111 11111 S 17 0.41***
I I 11111 N 83 1.41***

IIII T 69 1.32***
F 31 0.65***
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP J 49 0.95
P 51 1.05
N=18 N=15 N= 58 N=123
= 0.57 I= 0.95 I= 1.01 I= 2.14*** IJ 32 1.13
ll II IIII' IIIII IP 30 1.32**
III
Hll EP 21 0.81*
II EJ 17 0.74**
ESTP ESFP ENFP ENTP ST 12 0.50***
SF 5 0.29***
N=12 N=1 N=55 N = 79
= 0.46* 1=0.04*- I=0.68* I= 1.53* NF 26 0.87
11 I
IlII IIIII
IllI
NT 57 1.99***
III 1111I
SJ 10 0.37***
SP 7 0.47***
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ NP 45 1.28***
NJ 39 1.62***
N=13 N=8 N=27 N=73
I= 0.35*** I=0.19*** 1=0.75 I= 1.50* TJ 36 1.26**
II I II1 Ill' TP 33 1.39***
liIi
FP 18 0.72**
FJ 13 0.57***
***p<.001
**p<.01 IN 50 1.78***
*p <.05 EN 33 1.08
*_ indicates Fisher's exact probability. IS 12 0.52***
ES 5 0.26***

I= selection ratio index, I = Introvert, E = Extravert, S = Sensing, N = Intuitive, F = Feeling, T = Thinking,


I= 1%,
J =Judging, P = Perception.
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. See text for further explanation.

Wesche; Westcott). What Jung's theory predicts in the top-right corner, INTJ, the Selection
is exactly what was found. The implication is Ratio Index is 2.88. Almost three times more
that the new students may differ considerably INTJs are interested in science than in lan-
from those now in language classes. Thus, we guage, and language students are strongly rep-
must examine their personality types too. A resented here in the first place. (Many language
comparison of language students with three students major in other subjects, including sci-
groups -scientists, engineers, and business stu- ence, and complete the college language re-
dents-provides a new perspective. quirement.) The right panel shows where the
Table II compares students of science and major differences lie between these two groups.
language (Myres & Myres: p. 43). First, while language students are evenly
Most science students appear in column divided between Extraversion and Introver-
four; most are Intuitive-Thinking types. In fact, sion, students majoring in science include many
Personality Preferencesand Language Learning 395
TABLE III
MBTI Type Distribution of Engineering Students Compared with First- and Second-Year Language Students

N = 7062
% I
ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
E 45 0.92
N = 995 N = 339 N = 268 N = 765 I 55 1.07
I= 1.41* I=0.79 1= 0.69 I= 1.72**
ll 11111 1111 S 47 1.15**
11111i 11111 N 53 0.89**
1111
1111i I
T 70 1.34***
F 30 0.63***
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP
J 61 1.20***
N = 374 N=197 N = 343 N = 581 P 39 0.79***
I= 1.18 I= 1.25 I= 0.60** I= 1.01
11111 III 1111l 11111 IJ 34 1.20*
III IP 21 0.92
EP 17 0.67***
ESTP ESFP ENFP ENTP EJ 28 1.20*
N = 264 N= 156 N= 321 N = 487 ST 34 1.45***
I= 1.02 I= 0.64 I= 0.40*** I=0.94 SF 14 0.76**
1111 11 1111
II NF 17 0.55***
NT 36 1.25**
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ SJ 33 1.22**
SP 14 1.01
N = 760 N = 261 N= 246 N = 705
I= 2.03*** I= 0.63* I=0.68 I= 1.44* NP 25 0.70***
11111 11|1 II 11111 NJ 28 1.18*
11111
I TJ 46 1.60***
TP 24 1.02
***p< .001 FP 14 0.57***
**p<.01 FJ 16 0.70***
*p<.05
IN 28 0.99
EN 25 0.81**
IS 27 1.18*
ES 20 1.11
= 1%, I = selection ratio index, I = Introvert, E = Extravert, S = Sensing, N = Intuitive, F = Feeling, T = Thinking,
J = Judging, P = Perception.
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. See text for further explanation.

Introverts, almost two to one (right panel, twice that of language students. Conversely, the
62/38). Second, science students include many ES category attracts only a quarter as many
more Intuitives, better than four to one. Third, from science as from language.
Thinking types outnumber Feeling types about In general, the personality traits that sepa-
two to one, much more than the current lan- rate language students from the general college
guage students. Fourth, science students are as sample are more strongly emphasized among
evenly divided as language students with regard students of science.
to Judging and Perception. The paired com- A new kind of student who will have to meet
bination in which the science students differ the new language requirement is the engineer-
most from language students is NT, logical in- ing major. Table III compares language stu-
genious types. The Selection Ratio Index shows dents with engineers (Thomas).
that the proportion of science students is about A global view of the Table shows that engi-
396 Raymond Moody
TABLE IV
MBTI Type Distribution of Business Students Compared with First- and Second-Year Language Students

N = 488
% I
ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
E 70 1.43***
N = 44 N=19 N= 1 N=13 I 30 0.58***
I= 0.90 I=0.64 I= 0.04*** I= 0.42**
III III S 72 1.75***
IIII N 28 0.48***
T 69 1.32***
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP F 31 0.66***
N = 35 N=7 N=11 N=15 J 53 1.03
I= 1.60 I= 0.64 I= 0.28*** I= 0.38*** P 47 0.96
IIIII I III
IJ 16 0.57***
IP 14 0.61***
ESTP ESFP ENFP ENTP EP 33 1.28*
EJ 37 1.60***
N= 63 N =34 N = 30 N=35
I= 3.52*** 1=2.01* I= 0.54** I=0.98 ST 51 2.17***
11111 11111 11111 SF 21 1.19
II I II
II NF 10 0.34***
NT 18 0.62***
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ SJ 43 1.59***
SP 28 2.06***
N= 106 N = 43 N=8 N =24
I= 4.10*** I= 1.49 I= 0.32** I=0.71 NP 19 0.53***
IIIII II 11111 NJ 9 0.40***
IIIII
TJ 38 1.34**
11111
IIlIl
1Ill
Hill
TP 30 1.28*

FP 17 0.67**
FJ 15 0.64**
***p<.001
**p<.01 IN 8 0.29***
*p<.05 EN 20 0.65***
* indicates Fisher's exact IS 22 0.94
probability.
ES 50 2.75***

I= 1%, I = selection ratio index, I = Introvert, E = Extravert, S = Sensing, N = Intuitive, F = Feeling, T = Thinking,
J =Judging, P = Perception.
Note: Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. See text for further explanation.

neers tend to cluster at the four corners, TJ. ence. The proportion of engineers in this cate-
The outside columns, STs and NTs, together gory is half that of language students. Lan-
hold about seventy percent of the total. The guage attracts many NFs. Engineering attracts
right panel of Table III reveals major differ- more STs. Dealing with the new kinds of stu-
ences on three of the four personality scales. dents who will enter language classes is begin-
While the proportions of Extraverts and In- ning to look more complex.
troverts in the two groups reveal no significant Let us turn now to the third group. Table
differences, engineering attracts more Sensing IV compares business and language students
types than does language, many more Think- (Myres & Myres: p. 42).
ing types, and more Judging types. Among the Comparing Tables I and IV, one does not
paired scales, the NF types show a large differ- need magical statistics to see that business stu-
PersonalityPreferencesand Language Learning 397

dents are impressively different from those in parison group. Chi-square analyses were per-
language. Business most often attracts Sensing- formed on the proportions for each scale across
Thinking types (Table IV, main panel, first the columns comparing students of language,
column). The proportion of STs in business is engineering, and business, the groups of pri-
a little over twice that of language students mary interest. The science students were
(I = 2.17). However, the greatest difference be- omitted because language already includes
tween the two groups lies on the Sensing-Intui- some science majors. (An analysis of all four
tion scale. Business students have about half groups produced similar results.) Chi-square
as many Intuitives as language students (I= for Extraversion-Introversion was 14.55, p<
.48). In terms of proportions within business, .001; for Sensing-Intuition, 21.72, p<.001; for
Sensing types outnumber their Intuitive Thinking-Feeling, 8.85, p< .01; and forJudg-
counterparts about two and one-half to one ing-Perception, 2.26, not significant.
(72/28). Further, with the paired combinations, The analysis shows that students appear in
half of the business students are Extravert-Sens- all sixteen personality categories. All of the
ing types. This is very clear in Table III, lower groups differ strongly from the comparison
left quadrant. This category makes up only group on at least three of the four scales. Lan-
eighteen percent of language students (see guage students strongly favor Intuition, when
Table I). compared with a large college sample, and to
The most popular personality types for busi- a lesser extent, Introversion, Thinking, and
ness are ESTP and ESTJ. The Selection Ratio Perception. The proportion within each pref-
Indices show that three and a half and four erence, however, is almost the same. Language
times more business students fall into these two students split down the middle.
categories than do language students. Where On the scale of Extraversionand Introversion,
business is strongest, relatively few language students of language and engineering are about
students appear. the same. For these two groups, Introverts are
slightly more frequent. Huge differences appear
in comparing science (and language) with busi-
DISCUSSION
ness. In science, Introverts dominate almost
Table V summarizes the proportion of stu- two to one. In business, Extraverts are in the
dents in each of the eight MBTI types as well majority by better than two to one.
as the Selection Ratio Indices comparing lan- In terms of learning, on this dimension stu-
guage students with the general college sample, dents of language and engineering are about
and students of science, engineering, and busi- the same. Only a little over half prefer to work
ness. Selection Ratio Indices above one show alone, reading, focusing on ideas and concepts,
that the proportion of students in the group at with rules presented before examples. In the
the top of the columns exceeds that of the com- language classroom, written drills will be quite

TABLE VII
Proportion of Students and Selection Ratio Indices on the Eight MBTI Types for Language, Science,
Engineering, and Business

Language Science Engineering Business


% I % I % I % I
E 49 0.88** 38 0.77*** 45 0.92 70 1.43***
I 51 1.15** 62 1.22*** 55 1.07 30 0.58***
S 41 0.68*** 17 0.41*** 47 1.15** 72 1.75***
N 59 1.49*** 83 1.41*** 53 0.89** 28 0.48***
T 52 1.31*** 69 1.32*** 70 1.34*** 69 1.32***
F 48 0.80*** 31 0.65*** 30 0.63*** 31 0.66***
J 51 0.90* 49 0.95 61 1.20*** 53 1.03
P 49 1.13* 51 1.05 39 0.79*** 47 0.96
***p<.001
**p<.01
*p<.05
398 Raymond Moody

acceptable. Written tests are also preferred. Sci- With respect to Thinkingand Feeling, all four
ence students favor these approaches almost groups agree by a substantial margin that the
two to one. first is preferred. The proportion for all but the
Business students are radically different. By language group is better than two to one. The
a ratio of almost two and a half to one, they Thinking preference involves a critical ap-
prefer spontaneous activities in group discus- proach with objective, logical analysis. These
sion, and communicative activities, as when students want their work to be corrected and
pairs of students ask and answer questions, to know the reasons why (rules).
focusing on specific facts with practical appli- About half of the language students, though,
cations. Role-playing, acting out dialogues, and nearly a third of each of the other groups,
particularly when the Extravert can become the prefer Feeling: a subjective approach that
center of attention, will inspire enthusiasm. focuses on people and involves learning through
Oral testing will be welcome. personal relationships and the maintenance of
With reference to Sensing and Intuition, lan- harmony and personal values. Correcting for
guage and engineering students again are about them more likely means correcting people, not
the same, with Intuitives clearly in the major- work. Cooperating in pairs to discuss personal
ity. Most students enjoy the complexities of feelings and preferences is likely to enjoy ac-
abstract words and symbols in tasks that re- ceptance. Attention to cultural differences and
quire quick insight and the freedom to find awareness, which language learning seeks to
one's own way exploring the possibilities. promote, will be of direct interest to only a few
Applying the rules is a strength, but these stu- students (as little as thirty percent, as many as
dents want only enough examples to get the forty-eight percent).
rules. Timed tests which focus on theory, With regard to Judging and Perception,three
applying rules, will have some appeal. Filling of the four groups are divided about evenly.
in workbooks and doing pattern drills aimed While half of the students favor working
at overlearning will very likely turn them off. steadily, in an orderly way, on clearly pre-
Science students also favor these same ap- scribed tasks within specified time limits (J),
proaches overwhelmingly, better than four to the other half will prefer the flexibility of fol-
one. lowing their impulses, allowing their curiosity
Students of business again are just the oppo- to run free without the constraints of time (P).
site by a proportion of more than two to one. The first may prefer sticking to the book and
The favorite Sensing types, like Extraverts, the teacher's objectives. The second will also
have an eye for practical applications. Unlike enjoy unexpected visits of native speakers.
Intuitives, who are very much future-oriented, Much school learning including language re-
Sensing types focus on the immediate reality lies on the ability to work rapidly with concepts
of here-and-now (Harrison & Lawrence). They and symbols- skills of IN types (McCaulley,
are most attracted by what is simple, real, con- 26; Myres & Myres; Myres & McCaulley).
crete, and tangible. Sensing types react posi- College level teaching is most likely to be
tively when the drills supply a great many directed by these same types (Macdaid et al.).
variations. Workbooks, pattern drills, and As Schurr and Ruble point out (p. 35), "the
simple transformations will be acceptable to current approach to presenting material and
many. These students are excellent at tasks that structuring learning (teaching style) is better
proceed step-by-step and require careful atten- suited in general to learners a) who are able to
tion to details. They are likely to complain work alone efficiently, concentrate well, and
about the complexities of translation and view avoid outside distractions (Introverted); b) who
the difficulties of choosing between the subjunc- tend to be global learners, have a natural flair
tive and indicative, the preterite and imperfect, for abstract thinking and have a tolerance for
or even the "intimate you" and the "formal you" theory (Intuitive); and c) who like to live life
as unnecessarily picky and difficult. The per- in a planned, orderly, and organized way
formance and motor skills of the Total Physi- (Judging)." This describes many students of
cal Response technique will be more welcome language and science, and some engineers, but
(Asher), as well as the directness of audio not all. "The environment is not rewarding for
visuals and practical oral proficiency tests learners a) who have broad interests and a
(Roberts).3 natural flair for interpersonal interactions
PersonalityPreferencesand Language Learning 399

(Extraverted); b) who like to work with known ably awkward situation for many adult learn-
facts and respond to concrete examples and ers? How much time and effort can they be
practical application (Sensing); and c) who like willing to spend at it? What kind of grade will
to live life in a flexible, spontaneous, and they be satisfied with? In this light, the high
adaptable manner (Perceptive)" (Schurr & rate at which language students drop out holds
Ruble: p. 35). The first two qualities are shared no mystery.
by a large number of engineers and by even For many years methodologists have stressed
more business students-just the opposite of the importance of providing a variety of learn-
what appeals to many presently in language ing activities in the classroom (Chastain;
courses. Rivers). This study adds support. Not every
Language teachers and text writers may un- kind of drill appeals to everyone. Spending very
consciously design programs for only the much time on one activity will lose some stu-
majority of the students, favoring Introversion, dents. Instead, teachers will earn the students'
Intuition, Thinking, and Judging, and against attention, participation, and success by provid-
Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Percep- ing a somewhat unpredictable set of ways of
tion. In a real way, this may structure the sys- performing, with frequent changes, stopping
tem so that some students will succeed and well short of the point where students are
others will fail. Under such a system, the lan- turned off or bored. Teaching texts cannot con-
guage departments meet the needs of only tinue to be designed as teacher classroom ref-
about half of the students. erence grammars but must be written to in-
One intriguing proposition is that the per- clude out-of-class practice with a very careful
sonality types and learning styles which the new sequence of activities that provide for minimal
students bring do not really differ from those steps, clear, easily identifiable cues, a satisfy-
of present language students. It is a matter of ing set of unique examples and practice, rules
proportion. Close to half of our students have both before and after, the opportunity for spon-
those other preferences. Table I shows that lan- taneity, and most important of all, success.4 In
guage students are distributed in every row and order to keep first- and second-year classes
every column. Language textbooks, written by alive, the students must succeed easily from the
talented and successful language learners, may very first day and every day. They must know
ignore the students who don't fit well within the it and feel it. Allowing students to succeed re-
popular mold. Many of the new students are quires that they be empowered to use their most
precisely the kind which, until now, language comfortable modes of learning for at least some
teachers have been able to flunk with impunity. of the time. Ehrman and Oxford reach similar
At the beginning of this article, you were conclusions.
invited to see how it feels and what the results Another important reason to provide a
are when you write with the other hand. This variety of learning activities in the classroom
invitation provides a physical analogy of how lies within the spirit of a liberal arts education.
it is to learn in different, unfamiliar, uncom- Successful practice with a variety of activities
fortable ways. You can now imagine how some can help students to develop and expand their
students may feel as they anticipate coming to repertory of response choices. Life presents a
a language class. A few may actually be de- host of expected and unexpected situations.
lighted (Perceptive types). More may feel tight, The same responses are not appropriate for all.
silly, awkward, uncomfortable, frustrated, A person limited in the kinds of choices he can
klutzy, and clumsy, and they may evaluate the make is limited in his ability to deal effectively
quality of their work as adequate (= inade- with tomorrow. By providing classroom prac-
quate?), illegible, shaky, poor, indecipherable, tice in using a wider variety of activities,
unsatisfactory, junk. These are terms that some favorites as well as not, language students have
forty people were willing to report aloud after a greater chance of developing less-used but
they had the opportunity to write with the other sometimes more appropriate strategies to ap-
hand. You may have thought of other descrip- proach the future. This is the very heart of a
tive words. liberal arts education.
If this is the way people feel in new or un- The new students are quite different from the
comfortable settings, how enthusiastic can they majority of language students and teachers at
be about language learning, surely a predict- the university level. They perceive the world
400 Raymond Moody
and learn in radically different ways. We now to discover the specific learning strategies which
have some evidence on what kinds of activities appeal to the various types so that we can pro-
work best for differentJungian types. And we vide success for a broader range of language
have an outline of how these apply to people learners.
learning a second language. The next step is

media, fourteen of the sixteen types rated audio near or


NOTES at the bottom. This lack of enthusiasm is consistent with
informal grumbles from language students and low lab
attendance.Listeningto tapesof people talkingan unknown
'This paper is a revised version of one originally pre- language, repeating the same thing over and over again,
sented at the Joint Conference of the Hawaii Association can only be a gigantic bore perceived as a waste of time.
of Language Teachers and the Hawaii Council of Teachers 4Language texts are rarely developed to produce actual
of English, 18 April 1987. The researchwas supported by learningresults.That is, they do not have carefullydefined,
a grant from the President's Educational Improvement tested performance objectives--actual tests; they are not
Fund, University of Hawaii, Manoa. I am indebted to test taught before publication; they are not revised in ac-
Misczyslaw Dabrowski for legwork, tenacious, insightful cordance with student performance on exams and tested
criticisms, and ideas, and to Roger Hadlich, Cornelia and revised again until the objectivescan be achieved with
Moore, and Jean Toyama, who read early versions of the an appropriate student sample. The focus is NOT on stu-
manuscript and offered many valuable suggestions. dent achievement.Instead, the purposeof the text is to pro-
2See for example Bartz; Boylan; Brewster; Brodkey & vide the instructor- the realbuyer-with the familiarrather
Shore; Busch; Cappetta; Cavanaugh; Ehrman & Oxford; than the informative,with an abundantand comprehensive
Ely; Gayle; Genesee & Hamayan; Geiger; Hamayan, list of classroom activities which are not integrated so that
Genesee & Tucker; Lalonde & Gardner; Leino; Naiman one builds upon another, and which cannot all be covered
et al.; Thames; Wesche; Westcott. within the time available- a little somethingfor everybody.
30ne device which some research shows clearly is very As a result, many instructorsselect, and leave out, and add
unpopular is the language lab. Roberts asked students to more. They find that the text must be reorganized, re-
rank-orderthirteen modes of instruction such as lectures, written, and supplementedin order to make it work. Thus,
discussion, labs, reading, field trips, pictures/slides, and it is an instructor'stext rather than a student's text. Lan-
audio tapes. While each personality type had its favorite guage texts are not written to teach but to sell.

6. Brodkey, Dean & Howard Shore. "StudentPersonal-


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