Have you ever wondered if does exist a magic technique to learn a foreign language?
Besides the factors already analysed, SLA research has also focused on the impact that an individual’s preferred way of processing information and dealing with other people has on L2 and additional language acquisition and learning. This concept is referred to as learning style. There are several psychological models of learning style, but the difference that has received the greatest attention in SLA research is the one between field dependence and field independence. Field-dependent people tend to pay more attention to the general context but they have difficulty in identifying the single parts that constitute it. These individuals tend to enjoy social interaction. Conversely, field-independent people, are highly analytical, but less inclined to social interaction and more self-reliant. Researchers hypothesised that, given their better interpersonal skills, field-dependent individuals will achieve greater results in informal language learning, in contrast to field independent learners who supposedly will be more successful in formal learning given their higher analytic abilities. Nevertheless, early studies found weak evidence in support of these assumptions. However, Johnson, Prior and Artuso (2000) argued that such poor results were due to methodological problems used, and – above all – with the way communicative language was measured. Therefore, they concluded that dismissing the dependent/independent field would be premature and more research is needed in the area.
It has been observed that successful language learners employ different “techniques” than poorer ones. Learning strategies is the term frequently used in SLA acquisition literature to describe what individuals do to facilitate their learning.
The research in this area has been driven, above all, by the wish to identify effective strategies and train learners in pinpointing and using them. However, good language learners seem to choose among a range of strategies that vary according to their needs. Therefore, it might be the case that training learners in specific strategies might result in little improvement. Alternative views include the hypothesis that is the advance learners’ fluency which dictates which strategies they are able to use. Therefore, the overall picture on this subject remains blurred and gives space for further research to be undertaken.