How a learner’s intelligence and motivation helps to learn a second language through learning style

Tushar Kanti Baidya
Published in
12 min readAug 8, 2020



This piece of research paper is written to find out the most influencing factor in case of second language learning. Intelligence, motivation and learning style are the key ingredients of our research topic and all three of them have individual significant role and effect on learning second language undoubtedly.

Some learners have high intelligence power and they grab easily the regulations of second language which is English. Due to the power of their IQ level they become a very good speaker and feel willingness to communicate in English in front of the public.But there are some learners who are not fast in terms of intelligence power and they often fell difficult to learn it. Therefore motivation can be an important tool to boost up their confidence level and make them comfortable to apply the second language freely in front of the universe.

The third key point is learning style. It differs from individual to individual. It expresses the way learners have come to know about the second language. The main objective of the paper is to sort out the main manipulating factor through the survey and the answers they we have collected from our interviewee. There are lots of factors that work as individual differences such as personality, aptitude, motivation, intelligence, learning style and attitude. Among all them we are focusing on only three factors which we have mentioned earlier.

We have tried to collect our queries through our interviewee and the survey to gather the potential data which is the core ingredient to complete the study. We have done the survey on nearly 20 people especially among our friend circle within the BRAC UNIVERSITY premises. But as we are standing at the end of the semester many of them are busy with their final

preparation. We were not able to do the survey on a large group of peopledue to some unavoidable circumstances it was not possible for us to make conversations with the learners of second language that are in process of learning it in different language institutions.


The name of our interviewee is Shahriar Chowdhury Rony one of our good friends. His previous background was Bangla (Mohammadpur preparatory higher secondary school) and (Dhaka College). His personality is extrovert and he loves to make friend circle. At present he is studying in BRAC UNIVERSITY in CSE (Computer and Science and Engineering) and this is his 9th semester.

As we mentioned earlier that it is almost the end of the semester that is why he did not give us a huge time. But we are grateful to him that within his busy schedule of time he answered our questionnaire carefully and participated in the interview. We have given him a list of 20 questions and he attended all of them. According to him intelligence is the major factor to come up with the second language. When we have asked him the question“Intelligence can measure one’s ability of language learning” — — — do you agree with the statement?” He replies like “Yes, I agree with the statement. Because an intelligent personnel can learn anything quickly. The ability of learning somehow depends on intelligence.”He has highlighted that if a learner lacks of enough intelligence power, which is required to absorb the second language, through which he/she is preferred to communicate with the whole world,then how the learner will acquire that. It will hard and sometimes impossible for him/her. Therefore it tells us that IQ is the strong predictor of learning something.

He prefers his learning style a lot. It was reading and listening.“Reading and listening at the same time is very useful to acquire any knowledge. My learning style helped me enough to “get better”.Rony has read quite a number of novels. He said “English novels are greatsources of vocabulary”. It was beneficial a lot according to his words. He loves to read books but he relies on the English movies. Because it is enjoyable and more practical way of learning a new language. He also mentioned that informal and example based learning is more feasible comparing with rule based and strict classroom setting. But he has also drawn the issue of the present situation that now-a-days the process had been altered of learning. It is more depended on multi media. Learners (Visual Learners) are shown videos and are truly fruitful for them to understand the context based on the situation. Easily they understand the language. So he supports this process a lot as well.

Our interviewee does not ignore the fact of motivation. His considers that motivation is such a dynamic inspirational reason of learning a new language which has no connection with our mother tongue. “When someone is truly inspired then he/she can do it from the heart and finds interest in that work, which makes it easy for them.” However motivation helps people to apply English language in front of the public.


Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.(Dwight D. Eisenhower). The lexical meaning of this word “Provide someone with a motive for doing something.” It is like a driving tool for the learners. Gardner and Lambert stated “Motivation” as the overall goal or orientation. If a person has low level of IQ then it does not mean that he/she are not eligible to understand the second language. If he/she gets motivation from their near and dear ones, their mentors, friends and most importantly from the environment then it will work as an active tool for the new learners. It will automatically encourage their confidence and boost up their energy level. The learners will never feel low and build up the belief that one day they can whatever the others can do.“The most successful learners will be those who have a talent and a high level of motivation for learning.” (Ellis, 1999. p. 118)

We need to remind that motivation is not preexisting, it is created among the learners. But the it must be positive motivation. Because Nina Spada has declared “Positive motivation is associated with a willingness to keep learning.” Motivation has been demarcated with the help of two processes.

Learners Communicative Needs

Attitude towards the Second Language Community

If a learner wants to apply English in terms of social situations and to come up with the proficiency level or to develop his/her fluency level then the learner must understand the communicative value. There are two types of motivation. Such as:

Instrumental Motivation = When language is learned for practical goals.

Integrative Motivation = Learning from personal growth and cultural enrichment.

From the book “How language are learned” we have known that these two types of motivation is useful and they are closely associated with successful learning language. At present researchers are focusing on dynamics nature of motivation.

There are close connection between “Motivation” and “Attitude”. Since there are confliction between this two terms Brown has clearly stated three types of motivation. They are:

Global motivation — General orientation towards the goal of learning

Situational Motivation — Varies from situation to situation.

Task Motivation — Specific motivation to perform selective task.

Zoltan Dornyei (2001) has mention three types of motivational phrase. They are:

1st phrase — Choice Motivation. It is related with getting started and setting goals.

2nd phrase — Executive Motivation. It says that carrying the necessary tasks.

3rd phrase — Motivation Retrospection. It deals with students evaluation and reaction on their performance.

Motivation in Classroom

A teacher can make the class interesting for the learners especially for those who feel nervous to use English while necessary. The teacher can give positive motivation by making the environment and the topic enjoyable which will be relevant to their age. Moreover, it the duty of the instructor to make the atmosphere comfortable and make them feel free. A teacher can teach attention-grabbing topic so that it helps the students to overcome with all their anxiety, nervousness, shyness and fear. As the classroom is the formal setting the beginners therefore always use English in the classroom. Some of them apply it informal condition as well. But many of them are not. They feel ashamed of making mistakes. Researchers have shown that mistakes are the crucial part of learning language. So the teacher should introduce such type of teaching process that will encourage them to execute English at formal and informal setting. Because the motivation of the teacher works like magic.

Learning Style

Learning is style individual’s way of acquiring language. Every individual employs different learning styles to obtain new information and skills of the target language.No learning style is better than the other. Every individual has the capacity to learn within each of the learning styles, but individuals have a preferred learning style. Reid emphasized the term learning style as an individual’s natural and preferred way processing information of the target language (Brown and Spada 59).

Types of learning styles related to L2 learning:

Perceptual learning styles:

Visual, aural/auditory, and kinesthetic

2. Cognitive learning styles:

Field-independent: see things more analytically

Field-dependent: see things more holistically

Visual students like to read and obtain a great deal of visual stimulation. For these students, lectures, explanations, conversations, and oral directions without any visual back up can be confusing for them. However, auditory students do not find any difficulties without any visual input. They can learn the language well from lectures, conversation or from oral directions. Kinesthetic and Tactile students prefer working with tangible objects, flash cards, collages, etc.

Some students may have a combination of two or sometimes three or even all of the learning styles.

Field-Independent & Field dependent

Field-independent is related to classroom language learning that involves analysis, attention to detail, and mastering of exercise, drills, and other focused activities. Field dependent is related to the communicative aspects of language learning that require social outreach, empathy, perception of other people, and communicative skills. Ellis asserts that field dependence will prove most facilitative in naturalistic SLA, but field independence will lead to greater success in classroom learning (114). Every person, student or teacher, has a learning style; therefore, there is no particular teaching or learning method that can suit the needs of all learners. However, students should be encouraged to “stretch” their learning styles so that they will be more empowered in a variety of leaning situations.


Basically intelligence means the ability of doing something with the power of your brain. It refers to “Capacity rather than the contents of the mind” (Ellis 110). It leads people to learn. Through learners’ performance their intelligence is judged.However, intelligence cannot determine all the skills of language acquisition. In terms of intelligences Gardner focuses on human potential lies in the fact that people have a unique blend of capabilities and skills. In some extent intelligence plays an important role in language acquisition (2). In addition, intelligence may be a powerful predictor of success in classroom SLA, particularly when this consists of formal teaching methods, but much less so in naturalistic SLA, when L2 knowledge is developed through learning how to communicate in the target language (Ellis 111). Intelligence, especially measured by verbal IQ tests, may be a strong factor when it comes to learning that involves language analysis and rule learning. On the other hand, intelligence may play a less important role in language learning that focuses more on communication and interaction. Intelligence is a complex process to measure a person’s ability. Traditional IQ test only focuses on two types of intelligence; verbal or linguistic intelligence and logical intelligence (Howard 1). Howard’s theory of multiple intelligence claimed that intelligence varies person to person. Musical, spatial, logical intelligence, etc. are different areas of intelligence.

Data Collection

The goal of this research paper is to observe how intelligence and motivation can be supportive key factors in terms of learning a new language specially second language through learning style. And to support this idea, we have conducted a survey and took an interview. Due to time limitation, we have interviewed one person and to carry on the survey around 30 people. For the interview, the interviewee has to answer 20 questions. The interview was recorded via cell phone as this technology is available than others. And for survey, among all the participants, there were 15 male and 15 female respondents and everyone was willing to respond as they find this topic out of the ordinary along with the interviewee. The respondents have selected based on their language proficiency and all of them had advanced level proficiency. The survey was online based. We have attached our survey forms via several social media. Afterward the responses were collected and located in a pie chart where it shows among all the respondents, 56% agreed motivation, the major factor in terms of learning language. And from the rest of 44% people, 26% think intelligence is the key to learn language easily. Rest of the 18% people put emphasized on learning style of an individual.

Data Analysis

Even though there are different key features in terms of language learning for a certain learners, every learner has some specific factors that help them to acquire a language easily. The aim of this paper is to focus on those factors which are consider as most appropriate to the new learners for learning language and for that this paper consider motivation, intelligence and language learning style as major factor for learning language. After collecting all the responses from the survey, questionnaire and the interview we can summarize by saying all the participants believe in separate learning feature that help to learn effortlessly and most of them believe in motivation while learning a new language. Among all participants, 56% people agreed motivation. It can be an easy and an effective force for an individual while learning language. People gain proficiency in the second language for different purpose such as educational purpose, personal purpose and the responses show that no matter what is the purpose of learning language, an motivated person can acquire a language to some degree easily than others. The questionnaire also shows motivation can be an important tool for improving one’s language skill such as enriching vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure etc. Some also believe in motivation which can be helpful for one’s language learning style and can also guide to change the style where it is necessary. Along with this, it is clear based on the answers motivation can inspire a person to communicate with others. It is a good tool to practice the language. Moreover, motivation is also appreciated by the interviewee as he also believes that with the help of motivation he has improved his language skill. According to him, people can be motivated from different essence just like he has found his by reading various English novels and watching English movies. From the rest of the 44% participants, 26% people agreed with the term intelligence as it plays an

important role for learners. According to them, intelligent people are faster and better learners than others. For that, intelligence is the ultimate factor that helps a person to acquire language properly. They also believe IQ is the strong predictor when it comes to learn language. Moreover, they think that with the help of intelligence language learners can learn all the rules, structure and can analysis any language. Besides the responses from survey, our interviewee also believes in intelligence for language learning. He also emphasizes on intelligent learners can achieve success in language learning. Our interviewee has faith in intelligence which can be a major aspect for a learner to reach the goal of learning new language. Quoting the interviewee, “the ability of learning language is depends on intelligence” shows IQ has foremost outcome when learning language, rule learning of desired language.
Along with this, rest of 18% people agreed learning style. Because a learner can achieve his proficiency level effortlesslyif he has proper learning style as well as proper learning environment around him. The respondents also focus on some aspects such as receiving the feedback at the beginning, example based learning style. The classroom environment can be an encouragement and motivation for learning language.

Counter argument

As we mentioned before, our interviewee strongly emphasized on intelligence. According to him without intelligence one cannot acquire language. However, we do not agree with his opinion. One’s language ability cannot be determined by traditional IQ test. Perhaps, in some extent, intelligence might help learner to get through with some rules, but in case of oral proficiency intelligence has no role to play. Indeed, many students can learn language, even if their academic performance is weak (Brown & Spada 57). The famous linguist Noam Chomsky first put forward that language is an innate capacity of the human brain, and that it is an autonomous faculty — meaning that it is a system of its own, rather than one of the manifestations of intelligence. Another strong piece of evidence for the view that language is not a projection of intelligence, is provided by individuals with Specific Language Impairment on the one hand, and people suffering from Williams Syndrome on the other hand (Quietman). In the first case, patients have a normal intelligence, but they perform far below average on language tasks. He asserts that “Williams syndrome” is a genetic disorder in which the patient has a very low IQ, but a normal or near-normal language performance. This proves that in terms of language learning intelligence cannot be only predictior.


Our interviewee mostly focuses on the term intelligence. But as we can clearly visualize the factor, that being mentally malady a person can transfer visions through applying language successfully. It is true that a mentally ill learner will definitely make blunders at the time of writing something. He/She is required to commit mistakes. But in case of oral production of language intelligence does not have an apex role to play. So there is no clear cut clarification that the intelligence is merely a predictor to come up with a language.


To conclude we can come up with the notion among all the major factors of learning language motivation has significant contribution in learners life. Even though each learner has a preference of their own, most of them have agreed on the term motivation.



Tushar Kanti Baidya
Editor for

Educator and Human Rights Activist from Dhaka, Bangladesh