Facts confirm that language can be acquired unconsciously and learn consciously. Language learning depends on variety of individual differences. Dornyei (2006) defined individual differences as "dimensions of enduring personal characteristics that are assumed to apply to everybody and on which people differ by degree". These individual differences such as learning styles, motivations and personality bring major impacts in second language learning. Theoretically, these differences correlate with achievement in language learning. However, the correlation is subjective, in a way that there is no apparent characteristics entail successful of learning, as the success may be caused by single or more individual characteristics (Lightbrown & Spada, 2011). In my opinion, individual differences may cause different rate of learning. Therefore, teacher should alert that the learners have different ways of learning as well as different pace of learning. The effect of these differences toward language learning outcome would be discussed further below based on four given second language learner profiles.
One major personality that affects second language learning is learner's personality. Based on the profile, Jentel, seems having high level of anxiety. This anxiety brings him negative effects in communicative language learning because anxiety could lower his self-esteem and level of confidence. This anxiety is showed when Jentel feels uncomfortable to speak with the native speakers and worry to make mistakes when speaking in front of class. Moreover, Jentel is an introvert learner because he always shy and prefer to be alone. His personality obstructs him from having opportunity to speak with other people. As a result, his personality interfere his communicative learning process. In contrast, Willie has completely different personality from Jentel. Even though previously Willie has trouble to communicate in second language, however, his extrovert personality helps him to speak greatly. Willies does not has anxiety and more confident to practise English with his native speaker friends, thus he is improving the speaking skill. In short, personality influence learner's language development depends on the way the learner responds toward the learning.
Second aspect varies through learner's learning motivation. According to Lightbrown and Spada (2011), they are two factors of motivation, learner's attitude towards the second language community and learner's communicative need. For instance, Titan, has the former type of motivation. Nevertheless, Beatriz and Jentel has the later type of motivation. Titan has an integrative motivation as he has strong interest with the popular culture of the community. In order to join the community, he desires more contact with the locals and does lots of culture enrichment. In contrast, Beatriz and Jentel have instrumental motivation. Their aims at learning second language are for a particular goal and needs. For example, Betriaz learn English to pass the tests and to make her father proud, similar to Jentel who is motivated learn English concerning his career as government servant. These motivations determine their attitude towards learning. No matter what kind of motivation they are having, major concerns should be given on how great these motivations could help them in language learning.
Finally, learning style also influence language learning. The difference is seen through the way the learners process new information and skills automatically. For example, Willie prefers to perceive the information holistically through a quick reading without seeing the details. Therefore, he is a dependent field learner since he gains the information by guessing the main ideas, but ignores the grammatical part of the reading. In contrast, Titan is an independent field learner. He perceives the information thoroughly and pays attention to details. Thus, Titan is an analytic learner because he has more sensitivity in grammar part. Analytic learners may have advantages in learning language features but not the communicative part, and vice versa. Hence, analytic leaner may avoid communicative language activities. Therefore, they need to find a better way of learning communicative language that suits their learning preferences. Similar to holistic learner, probably refuse to engage with focus on form activities. As a consequence, they need to adapt their learning preferences so that they are flexible to learn the language as a whole.
Knowledge about individual differences helps teachers to provide the most condusive learning environment and provide effective learning strategies. Oxford (2001) suggest six specific learning strategies to be used in language lesson that involves Cognitive strategies, Metacognitive strategies, Affective strategies, Compensatory strategies, Memory-related strategies and Social strategies. These strategies help to provide basic element of language learning but suits individual differences. Nevertheless, I believe that the most challenging part for the teachers is to incorporate all of these strategies in a language lesson. In order to address these differences, a lesson should be designed creatively, and cater for multiple intelligence. For example, teacher can organize role-play. This activity has dialogues and demonstration which languge can be learn as a whole and suits the diversity of learners. The role play could provide co-operative learning experience and integrate specific learning strategies as suggested by Oxford. For that reason, the learners will be motivated to learn the second language as in they feel important and have role in learning. (834 words)