Skip to main content

Communicative competence and personality dimensions in first and second language learners


The purpose of the present study was to examine the relations between communicative competence and five dimensions of personality in 241 first and second language–learning children in The Netherlands. To determine the underlying communicative competence of the first and second language learners of Dutch, a broad array of linguistic measures and teacher judgments were collected. Observational scales referring to the Big Five personality factors were used to characterize the children's personalities. The results showed that three basic components underlie both the monolingual and bilingual children's communicative competence: organizational competence, involving lexical, syntactic, discourse, and functional abilities; pragmatic competence, involving sociocultural routines and illocutionary force; and strategic competence, involving the planning and monitoring of communicative behavior. The relations between the different dimensions of personality and the components of communicative competence revealed the following patterns to characterize first language learners: conscientiousness and emotional stability correlated with basic organizational skills; openness to experience correlated with pragmatic competence; and a broad range of personality characteristics with the acquisition of communicative strategies. In contrast, primarily openness to experience and, to a lesser extent, conscientiousness and extraversion were found to be related to the buildup of basic organizational skills, the acquisition of pragmatic skills, and the development of monitoring strategies in second language learners.

Corresponding author
Ludo Verhoeven, School of Education, University of Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3, 6525 HR Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
  • URL: /core/journals/applied-psycholinguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed