Emotional Intelligence and Language Competence: A Case Study of the English Language Learners at Taif University English Language Centre

By Farooq, Muhammad Umar | Studies in Literature and Language, February 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

Emotional Intelligence and Language Competence: A Case Study of the English Language Learners at Taif University English Language Centre


Farooq, Muhammad Umar, Studies in Literature and Language


Abstract

Variation in general abilities of human beings gave birth to the concept of intelligence. Since 1990, when for the first time emotional intelligence was introduced, it has become a buzzword in many fields including education, management studies, and artificial intelligence. Within the context of foreign language learning, it is being applied in educational institutions for language competence. An empirical study was conducted on English language learners at Taif University English Language Centre (TUELC) to find out relationship between their Emotional Intelligence (EI) and language competence. For this study, a group of 200 (male and female) students were selected randomly studying English at the undergraduate level. Data collected through EI Inventory was matched with their academic achievement in English language based on assessment of four skills. The result revealed a close relationship between EI and language competence of undergraduate students at TUELC and EI also affects students' English language competence.

Key words: Emotional Intelligence; Language competency; English language teaching; Saudi undergraduates

1. INTRODUCTION

All human beings differ in their general mental capabilities. They are different in their thinking competences, understanding, abilities, skills, comprehension, and other aspects of personality. This realization attracts much attention in the modern age because of the shift to individual differences that "... has rightly influenced the academic world in general and ELT in particular (Javid, 2013, p.255). This leads to the concept of intelligence. Intelligence is a complex construct. It is usually referred to as a general mental capability of thinking abstractly, getting benefit from past experience, learning and understanding new material, reasoning and solving problems. According to Webster's Dictionary (2013), intelligence is a) the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations; b) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests).

Alfred Binet was the first person who designed tests to measure intelligence and it was accepted that intelligence can be measured (Gardner, 2006). These tests, concentrating on cognitive abilities like memory and problem solving, remained popular among masses to assess their IQ level till the beginning of twentieth century. Researchers like Thorndike and Wechsler challenged the concept adding that attitude of people are highly affected by non-cognitive aspects of intelligence as well. According to Thorndike (1920), emotional and social components should also be taken into account in order to get more reliable results from the measurement of intelligence. According to Thorndike (1920), social intelligence refers to "the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls-to act wisely in human relations" (p.228). Later, Guilford and Hoepfner put forward the idea of intelligence as a multidimensional construction consisted of one hundred and twenty different types of intelligence (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Then, Gardner (1983) put forward the idea of Multiple Intelligence which includes 8 types of intelligences: Spatial, musical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, linguistic and logical-mathematical.

Goleman (1998) came up with the idea of Emotional Intelligence defined as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those feelings in and of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing well the emotions in ourselves and in our relationships" (p.317). EI factors such as self-awareness, managing emotions, empathy, cooperation, communication and resolving conflicts are vital not only for academic success but also for lifelong learning and success. Some factors directly while others indirectly contribute to academic success. These indirectly contributing factors develop and support those direct factors for academic success. …

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Emotional Intelligence and Language Competence: A Case Study of the English Language Learners at Taif University English Language Centre
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