Six Decades of Research on Language Aptitude: An Introduction

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Peter Kim


This forum is dedicated to the discussion on language aptitude and is motivated by a talk by Professor Shaofeng Li (2020) titled Six decades of research on language aptitude: a systemic and critical review, organized in the Fall of 2020 by Columbia University, Teachers College Center for International Foreign Language Teacher Education (CIFLTE). Dr. Li is an associate professor in Foreign and Second Language Education at Florida State University. He has written extensively on the role of language aptitude in SLA, including a meta-analytic review of research on language aptitude and second language grammar acquisition (Li, 2015), followed by another meta-analysis on the construct validity of language aptitude (Li, 2016). Motivated by these findings, the talk introduced the latest advances in language aptitude research, particularly the conceptualization and measurement of implicit language aptitude and evidence on the validity of the construct. As a way of extending the discussion, students in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) doctoral seminar in the Applied Linguistics and TESOL Program at Teachers College, Columbia University were asked to reflect on the talk and provide their commentaries on the six decades of aptitude research and what it means for the field of SLA. In response, three papers were submitted to the present forum.

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