Dispelling the myth of the natural-born linguist

Mercer, Sarah
January 2012
ELT Journal: English Language Teaching Journal;Jan2012, Vol. 66 Issue 1, p22
Academic Journal
An individual's mindset about the perceived malleability of ability or intelligence is known to strongly influence a person's other beliefs, behaviours, and motivation. This article seeks to provide justification for holding a ‘growth’ mindset in the domain of foreign language learning. It discusses contemporary understandings of ability and intelligence in a range of fields and focuses on deconstructing the belief that language learning ability is based primarily on an immutable, innate talent. Instead the article illustrates how it is best understood as a dynamic potential that individuals can develop to varying degrees depending on a complex range of personal and contextual factors. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of this overview of the literature for research and pedagogy.


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