Stanley Sapon, the authors of the MLAT, language learning aptitude refers to the “prediction of how well, relative to other individuals, an individual can learn a foreign language in a given amount of time and under given conditions”. Similar tests have been created how to learn a foreign language pimsleur pdf younger age groups. Stanley Sapon are responsible for the development of the MLAT.
They designed the test as part of a five-year research study at Harvard University between 1953 and 1958. One initial purpose of developing the Modern Language Aptitude Test was to help the US Government find and train people who would be successful learners of a foreign language in an intensive program of instruction. After field testing many different kinds of verbal tasks, Carroll chose five tasks that he felt worked well as a combination in predicting foreign language learning success in a variety of contexts. These tasks were minimally correlated with one another, but used together they had demonstrated high predictive validity with respect to such criteria as language proficiency ratings and grades in foreign language classes. The design of the MLAT also reflects a major conclusion of Carroll’s research, which was that language learning aptitude was not a “general” unitary ability, but rather a composite of at least four relatively independent “specialized” abilities.
The four aspects, or “components”, of language learning aptitude that Carroll identified were phonetic coding ability, grammatical sensitivity, rote learning ability and inductive language learning ability. The data used to calculate the statistical norms for the MLAT were collected in 1958. The MLAT was administered to approximately nineteen hundred students in grades nine to twelve and thirteen hundred students from ten colleges and universities. For adult norms, the MLAT was administered to about one thousand military and civilian employees of the government. The test was given to the subjects before starting a language course in a school or university or and intensive training program of the US Government.
Their performance in the language program was later compared to their score on the MLAT to determine the predictive validity of the test. The MLAT consists of five sections, each one testing separate abilities. This section is designed in part to measure the subject’s memory as well as an “auditory alertness” factor which would affect the subject’s auditory comprehension of a foreign language. This section is designed to measure the subject’s sound-symbol association ability, which is the ability to learn correlations between a speech sound and written symbols. This section is designed to measure the subject’s sensitivity to grammatical structure without using any grammatical terminology.
This section is designed to measure the subject’s rote memorization ability, which is a typical component of foreign language learning. The uses for the Modern Language Aptitude Test include selection, placement and diagnosis of learning abilities. The MLAT can be used to select individuals who show promise in learning foreign languages in order to justify the time and expense of placing them in a language training program. In situations where there is more than one class or group of students in a language training program or course, the students can be placed according to their language learning aptitude so that each class can work at the most beneficial pace. Looking at an individual’s score on the different parts of the test can be help to match students’ learning styles with instructional approaches.