myers-briggs debunked? | validity of the MBTI and being an INFJ

My latest video is all about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the controversy it has attracted over the years. Enjoy!

personality and language learning

Today’s post actually comes from an essay I put together a while ago on the impact of personality on language learning. Part of the essay focused on the impact of Introversion and Extraversion on how we learn languages; personally I found it to be an intriguing topic, I hope all of you do too!

Extrovert Language Learners: Extrovert language learners tend to engage in conversation and employ intercommunicative learning strategies when learning a new language. Group work and active environments (i.e. environments with adequate levels of stimuli to keep the extrovert engaged) tend to work best for extrovert language learners. It has also been shown that extroverts tend to use more visual learning strategies than introverts (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988). This tendency towards visual language learning strategies relates to the extrovert’s preference towards external stimuli; “visualization is a way of making connection between elements of outer-world experience and the symbols of which languge is composed” (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988 : 8). Use of interactive materials such as powerpoint presentations and picture-association may therefore be effective for extrovert language learners. Teaching methods that require much interaction and communication would also be effective; extroverts are arguably more suited to an immersive environment due to their tendency to focus on external stimuli in everyday life. Total Physical Response (or TPR) may also suit extrovert language learners due to the emphasis on external stimuli. In an academic setting, an extrovert is more likely to feel comfortable in an environment with plenty of social interaction, such as an oral language class. This isn’t always the case however, and is dependent on the confidence of the extrovert language learner in question.  If, for example, an extrovert scores highly in the Neuroticism element of the Big Five personality inventory, the thought of making mistakes when practicing language aloud may deterr them and make them feel uncomfortable in such a setting. An extrovert’s level of Openness To Experience, another factor of the Big Five personality inventory, may also have an impact on how comfortable or capable they feel in a largely interactive environment. If an extrovert has a relatively low score on the Openness To Experience scale, they will be more conservative in their language learning technique and less inclined to participate in conversations on wide-ranging topics or place themselves in situations where they are surrounded by people outside of their peer group.

Introvert Language Learners: As a result of their internal rather than external focus, introvert language learners benefit more from independent learning strategies. Working alone in a quiet, potentially isolated environment where there is little room for distraction tends to work best for introvert language learners. Introverts also learn language better when they are given a chance to absorb what is being said in relation to context and meaning rather than diving straight into conversation like an extrovert would; this ties in with an extrovert’s aforementioned tendency to be more risk-taking than their introvert counterparts. According to Ehrman and Oxford, “the introvert is defined as being concerned with the inner world of ideas” and “tends to look for meaning and context before acting” (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988 : 8). Although interaction is essential for language learning, introverts may benefit from more passive learning methods; something as simple as overhearing a conversation can enable the introvert language learner to absorb what is being said, piece together grammatical structures and learn new vocabulary. This is in contrast to the extrovert language learner who, by nature, would be more likely to join into the conversation without hesitation than passively listen to it. (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988). Teaching methods such as the Grammar-Translation method may be of benefit to the introvert language learner due to the lack of emphasis on oral language. The structural approach may also be effective given the introvert L2 learner’s tendency to find meaning and build systems in language learning rather than going straight into language practice.

Generally speaking, we all tend towards either introversion or extroversion, even if the distinction is marginal. In some cases, however, it is possible to be classified as an ‘ambivert’. An ambivert, as defined by Mercer in Psychology for Language Learning (2012) is someone who “exhibits the traits of both an introvert and an extrovert” and may value time spent alone or in solitude just as much as spending time around other people (Mercer, 2012 : 248).  An ambivert scores exactly 50:50 (or shows extremely marginal preference) between Introversion and Extraversion. They are therefore lucky in the sense that they can benefit from a wide range of language-learning strategies should they choose to make use of them. They are capable of working both with large groups of people and on their own, can focus on both internal and external stimuli to equal extents and can give equal amounts of attention to the written form of a language versus the spoken form. Depending on other subfactors such as attitudes towards language-learning or motivation for language acquisition, ambiverts can make the most effective language learners due to their capacity to be flexible in their language learning techniques. Contrasting techniques such as the Structural Approach and Total Physical Response could be equally effective for the ambivert depending on the other aforementioned subfactors of the language learner in question.”

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

P.S. – Watch my latest video here!

learning to construct

Something I’ve hit upon of late is the benefit of construction. Of making a point to construct rather than destruct. It can be easier said than done, but bear with me.

We all go through destructive periods in life. Times where we almost want something to be torn apart for the sake of it. Personally, I have found myself almost wanting to fail my degree just so I can feel something again. Indifference is hell.

When you start to feel like this, it is essential to make a conscious effort to construct. If you feel like destroying, put your mind elsewhere and create something. It can be as simple as tidying your room, or baking a cake. Really.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find that when I’m making an effort – albeit unintentional – to keep my life in check, I am sending a message to my brain that now is a time to construct rather than destruct. So my brain stops hitting the big red button that sends everything to pieces.

Slowly but surely things will come together again. Your autopilot will put things in order and keep you safe rather than forcing you down the horrible path of self sabotage.

This advice isn’t as simple as ‘bake a cake the next time you feel your life is falling apart’; if only it were that simple! No. Baking a cake is a baby step, perhaps even a symptom of a constructive mindset, one that can be cultivated over time should you make a point of doing so.

Lots of love and luck, and apologies for the lack of writing last week!

Clodagh X

dynamics and identity | you are your own person

We are all sorts of things to all sorts of people. The ‘loud one’ in our friend group, yet the ‘quiet one’ at home. It is phenomenal how one person can assume a myriad of identities dependent on setting and circumstance. What’s even more fascinating, however, is how little control we appear to have over our place within a group. Without even realising we slot neatly into a jigsaw, twisting and curving to make room for others in spite of oneself.

There often comes a time at which we no longer want to be a part of the jigsaw. We want to clip a corner here, an edge there, all in an attempt to become a better person (or so one hopes). This isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s never easy as far as I’m concerned. You can reshape yourself as much as you want, but you cannot reshape others unless they want it for themselves.

This in turn means that it is incredibly difficult to change how you are perceived within a group. No matter how few arguments come as a result of your character, if you are perceived as ‘the one who starts arguments’, that is how you will be identified. If you are ‘the peacemaker’, you can start as many arguments you like without turning a hair, all because of your perceived identity within the group.

Grim and all as this may sound, there is something liberating about this realisation. Freedom accompanies the notion that battling others is futile. Your real target should be yourself. Changing yourself means changing your world, not the world we share. The people and events you attract will come as a result of said change, in stark contrast to what came as a result of your place in the jigsaw.

You are your own person. You are free.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

‘you’re no fun’ | what is fun?

I am an introvert through and through. I much prefer quiet, secluded settings to raucous parties, and being around large groups of people can be very taxing on my energy reserves. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing; we all have our own individual personalities, and there is nothing wrong with leaning more towards the quiet side.

It is when we consider the world as a whole that an issue comes about. Our society is undoubtedly extrovert by nature. Think about it. What springs to mind when you think of the word ‘fun’? Parties, sunshine and beaming faces? I would almost bet money that you didn’t imagine a night in, curled up on the couch with a hot drink and fluffy socks. Even as a true introvert, I associate the word ‘fun’  more with what is considered fun than with my idea of fun. I have to fastforward through bright colours and people a-plenty to reach my ‘fun’ place. My happy place. A place where I am – surprise surprise – curled up on the couch with maybe three or four close friends, chatting about life and feeling all the happy feels.

This whole idea of reflecting on the concept of fun occurred to me quite recently, when I realised how much societal standards had impacted upon my own perceptions. Why do I associate parties with ‘fun’, when in reality I borderline hate parties? Why do I imagine hoards of people when I’d so much rather be with close friends and family? It’s almost as though we are indoctrinated from a young age as to what ‘fun’ should be. This makes it so easy to lose touch with yourself and your own needs for the sake of pleasing those around you. It also means that you are automatically ‘boring’ if you don’t go out a lot, or don’t always say a whole lot. For an introvert, this can be hellish. Cruel, even.

I think if I write anymore I’ll just be ranting, so let’s end it here. What I really want to get across with this piece is how subjective ‘fun’ is. It is ok to let off steam at home rather than at parties. It’s even more ok to be aware of how you actually feel, and to make this clear to others. You are not ‘dry’* for not wanting to go out. You’re just you. Be happy about that and let others deal with it.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

* dry = a colloquial term used in Ireland to depict someone who’s no fun (oh, the irony) / won’t go out and drink / won’t go out to have a good time etc etc.

moulding emotion | look at a feeling, let it pass

It starts in your gut. You feel your stomach churn, and soon your mind starts spinning. These cogs turn together, forcing your mouth into action so that, before you know it, you’ve said something you’ll live to regret. All because of a feeling that spun out of control.

This is an all-too-familiar experience for the majority of the human race. Someone says something, we take it personally and bam! the insecurities tumble out at record speed. It is phenomenal how any issue we have with the person facing us can be compressed into a little package of hate within seconds of a misinterpreted remark.

The same thing can happen when we are faced with unpleasant circumstances. Combine this with a lack of control over said circumstances and you have enough fuel to keep the cogs whirring until you’re engulfed in nothing but feeling. All rationality goes out the window, leaving you at the mercy of your primal instincts.

While you can’t necessarily stop a feeling from emerging, you can stop it from developing. All you have to do is acknowledge its presence, and let it pass. Don’t act on it. If that means staying silent for a second, or pausing for breath, don’t hesitate to do so. Just be aware that you’re feeling angry or hurt, even unloved, and allow this awareness to give you a heightened level of understanding. It is with this understanding that we can grow both internally and externally; our relationships with ourselves and others improve, and we ultimately live better lives.

This is something I’ve had to learn the hard way as I’ve grown up (I use the term ‘grow up’ pretty loosely as I still have an awful lot of growing up to do!). So many arguments and bad feelings could have been prevented if I’d just held myself back for a moment. When I did eventually figure all of this out – roughly when I was about 18 –  it was as if I’d been given a new power. I sincerely hope I’ve passed on this power by writing this post!

The next time an unwanted feeling starts growing inside of you, be aware that you do not have to give in to it. Look at it, and let it pass.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

when I’m ready | just do it

You are never completely ready for anything, ever. Never ever. A curveball can hit you square in the face at any given moment, so there is never a ‘right time’ to get things started. Particularly when you feel something in your gut, a stirring that could become something great; it takes courage to pounce on this and just do it.

The art of ‘just doing’ is, in my opinion, a skill that can be honed. Some people are born with it – a little to much of it, at that – and some people need that extra little push to get things moving. Either way, you can always improve on your ability to do rather than think.

There will always be a reason not to do something. For me, my main challenge is getting past the initial stages of a project. I know exactly how it feels to ‘click’ with something, that feeling of not wanting to stop no matter what comes your way. It’s a great feeling, but it doesn’t always come about. There are times when you need to find your groove. Or maybe there isn’t even a groove to begin with, and you have to carve one out with your own two hands. In ways the latter can be even more beneficial; you end up establishing a niche for yourself without even realising. A niche you would never have found if you hadn’t stepped up and done something.

If by some fluke you are reading this, do not be afraid to do. Go for it. Even if you fail spectacularly, you’ll live to tell the tale. I wish I could think of an ending to this post that was a little less cheesy, but a cheesy ending isn’t always a bad ending.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

(P.S. This post was not sponsored by Nike, I promise! But still. Just do it.)