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Personality traits as predictors of language learner engagement

  • Tanja Angelovska EMAIL logo , Sarah Mercer and Kyle Read Talbot


Engagement is seen as a highly desirable outcome and process contributing to successful learning. In second language acquisition (SLA), we know comparatively little about the nature of engagement for learning a language, in particular the kind of individual differences in learners that account for variations in engagement. In this study, we investigate whether a relationship exists between the engagement of tertiary-level English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students and one key individual difference, student personality traits, as measured by Goldberg, Lewis R. 1992. The development of markers for the Big-Five factor structure. Psychological Assessment 4(1). 26–42, Big-Five Personality Markers. Participants in this study were 154 EFL tertiary-level students from two universities in Austria. Language learning engagement (LLE) was measured using a modified version of the standardized Student Engagement Instrument (Appleton et al. 2006) adapted specifically for the tertiary-level EFL context in which this study was conducted. The study revealed that trait neuroticism and age predicted LLE and its two dimensions, the cognitive and the affective. Pedagogical implications of the study are presented and discussed.

Corresponding author: Tanja Angelovska, Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria, E-mail:


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Received: 2021-01-15
Accepted: 2021-06-19
Published Online: 2021-11-11
Published in Print: 2021-10-26

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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