The etiology of individual differences in second language acquisition in australian school students: a behavior-genetic study

W Coventry, I Anton-Méndez, E M Ellis, C Levisen, B Byrne, Victor H P Van Daal, N C Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present one of the first behavior-genetic studies of individual differences in school students’ levels of achievement in instructed second language acquisition (ISLA). We assessed these language abilities in Australian twin pairs (maximum N pairs = 251) by means of teacher ratings, class rankings, and self-ratings of proficiency, and used the classic twin design to estimate the relative influences of genes, shared (family/school) environment, and unique environment. Achievement in ISLA was more influenced by additive genetic effects (72%, 68%, and 38% for teacher ratings, class rankings, and twin self-ratings, respectively) than by shared environment effects, which were generally not substantial (20%, 07%, and 13%). Genetic effects distinct to speaking and listening, on the one hand, and reading and writing, on the other, were evident for the twin self-ratings. We discuss the limitations and implications of these findings and point to research questions that could profitably be addressed in future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-901
JournalLanguage Learning
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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