Debate:Nationalities and mindset will influence language learning

From Teflpedia
This is a Teflpedia debate page started by User:Technopat. Debate pages are used for discussing issues in English language teaching. Please be civil. No matter how much you may disagree with another user, please criticize what has been said and not the person saying it.

The possibility that students' nationalities and mindset will influence language learning is one of many ongoing debates among language teachers, and indeed, students. Possibly related to the Debate:L1 in the classroom, the question of whether a student's learning process is favoured or hindered by factors such as L1, age (possibly including generation), educational background, upbringing, mindset, etc. is hereby open to debate. Likewise, there is a tendency for girls/women to have "better" language - and communication - skills than boys/men...


  • Certain nationalities, such as speakers of certain northern European languages, have a greater facility for learning English. Factors include phonetic as well as cultural aspects.


  • Language learning is a very personal skill, dependent on motivation and other subjective factors.
  • Learning backgrounds, i.e., the influence of more traditional learning methods, can hinder a student's language-learning process.

Your opinion[edit]

Please sign your comments.

  • Just to set the ball rolling, while I realise that generaIisations are not the way to go, I once spent some years teaching Spanish engineers, professionals notorious for their methodological approach to learning and problem-solving (including, but not limited to, compulsive note-taking - the only time I've ever lost my cool in a class was when I threw a boardmarker - aiming at the wall to his left :) - at a senior engineer who was surreptitiously taking notes during a cassette-listening exercise... after having been expressly forbidden to do so). My experience with such students, i.e., those who have "suffered" strict rote-learning methods, is that they have greater difficulty learning English, though they may be better prepared to learn languages that are apparently more structured. So they tend to know their lists of irregular verbs off pat, but have difficulty applying them in spontaneous... and meaningful speech, and often show their exasperation when coming across a new meaning of a multi-word verb they thought they already knew. Ditto, hyper-efficient "super" secretaries, both male and female.--Technopat (talk) 05:20, 9 June 2013 (CDT)
Taking the proposition as stated - "Nationalities and mindset will influence language learning" - it seems to be pretty obviously true.
Nationalities: Speakers whose native language is further from the target language will experience more difficulties than those whose language is closer. Spanish and Italian learners learn each others' languages relativity easily. English is more difficult for them and Chinese even more so.
Mindset: Perhaps this has not been closely enough defined but I would include "motivation" as part of this idea. And motivation, or the lack of it, is probably the single most important factor in language learning. --Bob M (talk) 09:12, 6 September 2013 (CDT)

I think a lot of teachers overgeneralise! We've all heard people say 'Chinese students won't talk in class' etc. In fact quite a lot of research suggests students from all backgrounds enjoy using English in class, but may feel unprepared for how speaking activities are organised - for example, a teacher walks in and says to the whole class, 'Let's talk about modern art! What do you think?'. James Jenkin (talk) 15:52, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

See also[edit]