Language Aptitude: Advancing Theory, Testing, Research and Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Language Aptitude

Advancing Theory, Testing, Research and Practice, 1st Edition

Edited by Zhisheng (Edward) Wen, Peter Skehan, Adriana Biedroń, Shaofeng Li, Richard L. Sparks


350 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Language Aptitude: Advancing Theory, Testing, Research and Practice brings together cutting-edge global perspectives on foreign language aptitude. Drawing from educational psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience, the editors have assembled interdisciplinary authors writing for an applied linguistics and education audience. The book is broken into five major themes: revisiting and updating current language aptitude theories and models; emerging insights from contemporary research into language aptitude and the age factor or the critical period hypothesis; redefining constructs and broadening territories of foreign language aptitude; exploring language aptitude from a neurocognitive perspective; and exploring future directions of foreign language aptitude research. Focused on critical issues in foreign language aptitude and second language learning and teaching, this book will be an important research resource and supplemental reading in both applied linguistics and cognitive psychology.


"Language aptitudes are reliable predictors of rate of classroom foreign language learning and of level of ultimate attainment in naturalistic SLA. Aptitude is a central interest in the field, therefore, as reflected both in increasingly detailed analyses of the construct itself and in the development of several new aptitude measures in recent years. Language Aptitude: Advancing Theory, Testing, Research and Practice provides an authoritative historical overview of aptitude research, analyses of its sub-components, and instrumentation, surveys of current work on relationships among age of onset, aptitudes, and ultimate L2 attainment, and chapters on related cognitive and neurocognitive models, concluding with suggestions for future work and potential applications in language teaching. The contributors are experts, and the book will be a vital resource for SLA researchers, applied linguists, graduate students and language teachers for years to come."

Michael H. Long, University of Maryland, USA.

"Individual differences in language ability form a new frontier for the language sciences. To make progress, we need more advanced ways of measuring variation in language skills. Encapsulating the state of the art and outlining possible future directions, Language Aptitude will be invaluable not only to researchers in second language learning but also to language scientists, more generally."

Morten Christiansen, Cornell University, USA.

"This impressive collection of papers by leading researchers provides a much-needed state-of-the-art overview of developments in the theory and measurement of language learning aptitudes that have accumulated steadily in recent years. Understanding aptitudes for learning successfully from different conditions of exposure and pedagogic interventions is now a major area of SLA research, and one of great educational consequence, as this important book clearly describes. Authoritative, comprehensive, forward-looking, and highly recommended!"

Peter Robinson, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo

Table of Contents

List of Contributors

Foreword by Rod Ellis


1. Introduction and Overview

Zhisheng (Edward) Wen, Peter Skehan, Adriana Biedroń, Shaofeng Li and Richard L. Sparks

Part I

Revisiting and Updating Tests and Theories

2. The MLAT at 60 Years

Charles W.. Stansfield, and Daniel J. Reed

3. Development and preliminary validation of a foreign language aptitude test for Chinese learners of foreign languages

Lanrong Li, and Shaoqian (Sheila) Luo

4. Language aptitude implicates language and cognitive skills

Peter Skehan

5. Six decades of language aptitude research: A comprehensive and critical review

Shaofeng Li

Part II

Emerging Insights on Age and Ultimate Attainment

6. Difficulty and ease in learning foreign languages at the primary school level: general learning ability, language aptitude or working memory?

Amelia Lambelet, and Raphael Berthele

7. Language aptitude: Insights from U.S. high school students

Richard L. Sparks, Jon Patton, and Julie Luebbers

8. Language aptitude: Insights from Hyperpolyglots

Michael Erard

9. Language aptitude: Insights from L2 adult exceptional learners

Adriana Biedroń

Part III

Redefining Cognitive Constructs and Models

10. Working memory as language aptitude: The Phonological/Executive Model

Zhisheng (Edward) Wen

11. Declarative and procedural memory as individual differences in second language aptitude

Joshua Buffington, and Kara Morgan-Short

12.Cognitive aptitudes for explicit and implicit learning

Gisela Granena, and Yucel Yilmaz

Part IV

Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience

13. Neurophysiological indicators of the linguistic components of language aptitude

Jinxing Yue

14. Neuro-psycho-cognitive markers for pronunciation/speech imitation as language aptitude

Susanne Reiterer

15. In search of a cognitive model for interpreting expertise

Minhua Liu

Part V

Research Agenda and Future Directions

16. The future of language aptitude research

Robert DeKeyser

17. From individual differences in language aptitude to personalized learning

Loan C. Vuong, and Patrick CM Wong




About the Editors

Zhisheng (Edward) Wen (PhD, Chinese University of Hong Kong) is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Languages and Translation at Macao Polytechnic Institute, Macao, China, having previously taught at universities in Hong Kong and mainland China for over 15 years.

Peter Skehan (PhD, Birkbeck College, University of London) has worked as a Professor at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London; the University of Auckland; Chinese University of Hong Kong; King’s College London; and Thames Valley University.

Adriana Biedron (PhD, School of English, Poznan) is currently Professor of English at the Faculty of Philology, Pomeranian University in Slupsk, Poland.

Shaofeng Li (PhD, Michigan State University) is Associate Professor of Foreign and Second Language Education at Florida State University and previously worked as a Senior Lecturer in Applied Language Studies at the University of Auckland.

Richard L. Sparks (EdD, University of Cincinnati) is a Professor Emeritus in the Mount St Joseph University’s Department of Graduate Education, USA.

About the Series

Second Language Acquisition Research Series

The Second Language Acquisition Research series presents and explores issues bearing directly on theory construction and/or research methods in the study of second language acquisition. Its titles (both authored and edited volumes) provide thorough and timely overviews of high-interest topics, and include key discussions of existing research findings and their implications. A special emphasis of the series is reflected in the monographs dealing with specific data collection methods or instruments.  Each of these monographs addresses the kinds of research questions for which the method/instrument is best suited, offers extended description of its use, and outlines the problems associated with its use. The volumes in this series will be invaluable to students and scholars alike, and perfect for use in courses on research methodology and in individual research.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General