Article about new test of language aptitude

Fascinating story in a science-oriented magazine about a way to test adults for aptitude in learning languages:
Secret Military Test, Coming Soon To Your Spanish Class

“Called the Hi-LAB (or “High Level Language Aptitude Battery”), it was developed by University of Maryland researchers working on a government contract in order to predict a person’s ability to learn a language to a very high level. Since its release in 2012, the Hi-LAB has been rolled out to government agencies and military training schools and will eventually be available for civilians as well. (Details of the Hi-LAB were only recently released to the public.)”

Great stuff Diane, it looks like Hi-LAB could revolutionise language learning. My first reaction was: this could put people off language learning, but it looks as if it can be used to improve learning for anyone by concentrating on weak areas of learning. Can’t wait to try it (if it is affordable)

“Language aptitude is a special, inherent talent that not all individuals possess. Language aptitude is not learned, although it may be trained, within limits.”

I’ve just been on the, University of Maryland, site and question there opinion that aptitude is a special, inherent talent… That remark seems a bit elitist to me. Here’s a link:

I agree, Kim. Considering that everyone has already successfully learned a language, it doesn’t really hold up, does it. I suppose the proviso is that they are talking about “successfully learn[ing] a foreign language to very advanced levels of proficiency”, so I don’t know if that makes a difference. Comes down to how you define it, I suppose.

But, as Louis said, anything that helped you identify your specific individual weaknesses would undoubtedly be a great help.

I’m not sure it’s really saying things that are as bad as all that. It says that aptitude is inherent - which is pretty much the dictionary definition, so that’s not too contentious. Also that some adults won’t be able to learn a language to a very advanced level of proficiency - which also seems reasonable; I know I’m not expecting to be able to learn Welsh to very advanced levels of proficiency, I just don’t seem to be a language person - it doesn’t stop me wanting to learn what I can, though. I don’t know what their idea of ‘very advanced levels of proficiency’ is, but it strikes me that a lot of first language English speakers probably wouldn’t get classed in that way, so expecting people to get to that stage with a second language seems like a big ask to me.

I doubt the test would say very nice things about me :slight_smile:

I suspect the best marker of how well someone can end up speaking another language may be how well they speak their first language - that seems the clearest neurological marker, and then it depends on the right kind of learning materials and exposure.

I’m sure I’m expecting far more from you than you are yourself, Kev - time will tell which of us is right…:wink: