Language Learning and Introverts - Steve Kaufmann

It’s a common question: are extroverts better language learners than introverts? I don’t think it matters.

Ah, the good old popular psychology of “introverts versus extroverts”.

  1. Introverts aren´t shy people, but the direction of their energy is directed inwards. This means, for example, that social interactions, esp. with “lots” of people, drain their energy, so they need more time alone to recharge their batteries.

  2. In contrast, extroverts direct their energy outwards and feel invigorated by social interactions (esp. with “lots” of people)…

  3. Introverts can talk a lot and be quite intense, but they tend to prefer small groups or one-on-one interactions for that.

  4. The vast majority of people are a mixture of both types. In other words: “Pure” introverts or “pure” extroverts are the exceptions.

In sum:
The distinction “introversion - extroversion” isn´t of great importance for language learning, because the extreme types are rare and introversion has nothing to do with being shy or not saying much / anything.

See for some background info, for example: Introvert vs Extrovert: A Look at the Spectrum and Psychology


I think that in most cases pure extroverts have better speaking skills, even when their overall level is lower. When abroad, I need to force myself to speak to native speakers and I do that, but I still can’t make it that intense as extroverts can, because it simply does not come naturally to me. Online conversation are easier, but still would be exhausting to talk for a few hours per day, while some people like it. On the other hand introverts make up through patience and persistence. Ok maybe that is a generalization, but I saw much more introverts being able to stick to long-term goals than extroverts who are easier getting bored with the same tasks.

I’m 100% introvert. I can say from my own experience, that my introversion influenced my learning skills. I can compare myself with my friend with whom we were travelling abroad. She is extravert, so she easily communicated with others, even if her language was not perfect. As for me, this is always a challenge to speak to someone in other languages. So, taking into account only this situation, you can see that she practised more, so she learned quicker, because practicing - is the best learning! It was always easier for me to write sth rather than to say sth. The thing is, that the situation doesn’t change. I still don’t like to speak. I have good writing skills, grammatically and lexically correct, but I’m still not self-confident to speak freely.

Hi, Kate!

This sounds more like “shyness” (i.e., you are afraid of being judged by others) and/or low confidence in your speaking abilities.
Being “introverted” (at least in the psychological sense of the word, see: Introvert vs Extrovert: A Look at the Spectrum and Psychology or Shyness - Wikipedia) doesn´t mean someone isn´t feeling comfortable speaking (freely) in front of others. Rather, it refers to a preference for small social interactions and the corresponding energy level.

In short:

  • Pure extroverts tend to prefer larger groups because they find them invigorating.
  • Pure introverts tend to prefer smaller groups or one-to-one interactions because they find that large groups drain them of energy.
  • The vast majority of people are a mixture of both types.
    Consequently, someone can be introverted, talkative and intense because these qualities are quite compatible in small-scale interactions!

We should probably rephrase the question:
Do people who are shy have more problems speaking a target language well?
I’d say the answer is obvious, so we don’t need to bother the “Steve Oracle” :slight_smile:

Have a nice day

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