2. Attitude and Aptitude in Second Language Acquisition and Learning
Another area of second language research and practice that the acquisition-learning hypothesis helps to interpret is work in second language aptitude and attitude, providing a parsimonious explanation for what had appeared to be a strange finding: both language aptitude (as measured by standard tests) and attitude (affective variables) appear to be related to second language achievement, but are not related to each other. It is possible to have high aptitude and low attitude, low aptitude and high attitude, or both high, or both low. In this section, we survey research in these two areas, focusing specifically on the hypothesis that much of what is termed aptitude is directly related to conscious learning, while attitudinal factors my be more closely linked to acquisition.
Foreign language aptitude, which Carroll (1973) defines as the "rate at which persons at the secondary school, university and adult level learn to criterion" (p. 5), has most recently been measured by standardized test such as the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT) and the Language Aptitude Battery (LAB). According to Carroll (1973), there are three major components of modern aptitude tests. The first, phonetic coding ability, is the ability to store new language sounds in memory. This component will not be of concern to us here. The other two components appear to relate directly to learning.
Grammatical sensitivity, the second component, is defined as "the individual's ability to demonstrate his awareness of the syntactical patterning of sentences in a language" (Carroll, 1973, p. 7). Carroll makes it clear that although performance on this component does not