AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Giftedness and Language Learning

by Maarten Passet

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Giftedness; Language Learning; Learning Styles; Language Pedagogy
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2096117
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/37567


One of the common misconceptions when it comes to teaching a second language to gifted students is that teachers expect gifted students to be better at learning a second language than non-gifted students. Expectations are usually high, and when a student does not live up to these expectations, it causes frustration; not just for the student, but also for the teacher and the parents. This misconception stems from the fact that most gifted students show an extensive knowledge of their L1 (first language) at an early age. In theory, a gifted child should therefore be faster at picking up an L2 (second language) than non-gifted students: Hayes et al (1998, p. 179) states: “there is a strong connection between language ability and learning ability.” So hypothetically, with their advanced thinking skills, their more extensive verbal skills, and with their aptitude for learning, these gifted students should have little trouble with learning a second language. In practice, however, this does not always seem to be the case; gifted students do not automatically apply their abilities in learning second languages. For example, classroom practice shows that gifted students generally have greater difficulties with learning and memorizing vocabulary than non-gifted students. The study described in this thesis has multiple aims. First and foremost it aims to examine if there is a difference in the ways gifted and non-gifted students acquire English as a second language. Secondly it explores how language pedagogy as well as taking learning styles into account could benefit gifted students. This is in turn compared to the current classroom practice at the Rijswijks Lyceum. It should finally lead to the causes of these differences or similarities along with the consequences for gifted students. Advisors/Committee Members: Smakman, Dick (advisor).