Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1568-1491
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9749
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Meara (2005) developed the LLAMA tests as a free, language-neutral, user-friendly suite of aptitude tests incorporating four separate elements: vocabulary learning (LLAMA_B), phonetic (implicit) memory (LLAMA_D), sound-symbol correspondence (LLAMA_E) and grammatical inferencing (LLAMA_F) based on the standardised MLAT tests (Carroll & Sapon 1959). Recently, they have become increasingly popular in L2 acquisition research (Grañena & Long 2013b). However, Meara has expressed concern about the wide use of these tests without validity testing (cf. Grañena 2013a). To this end, we investigated several areas relating to the LLAMA tests, i.e. (1) the role of gender in LLAMA test performance; (2) language neutrality; (3) the role of age; (4) the role of formal education qualifications; (5) the effect of playing logic puzzles on LLAMA scores and (6) the effect of changing the test timings to scores. 229 participants from a range of language backgrounds, aged 10–75 with various education levels, typologically distinct L1s, and varying levels of multilingualism were tested. A subset of participants was also tested with varying timings for the tests. The results showed that the LLAMA tests are gender and language neutral. The younger learners (10–11s) performed significantly worse than the adults in the sound/symbol correspondence task (LLAMA_E). Formal education qualifications show a significant advantage in 3 of the LLAMA subcomponents (B, E, F) but not the implicit measure (LLAMA_D). Playing logic puzzles did not improve LLAMA test scores. The timings appear to be optimal apart from LLAMA_F, which could be shortened. We suggest that the LLAMA aptitude tests are not significantly affected by these factors although researchers using these tests should be aware of the possible impact of education level on some components of the tests.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abrahamsson, N. & Hyltenstam, K
    2008 The robustness of aptitude effects in near-native second language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30(4): 481–509. doi: 10.1017/S027226310808073X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S027226310808073X [Google Scholar]
  2. Birdsong, D. & Molis, M
    2001 On the evidence for maturational constraints in second-language acquisition. Journal of memory and language, 44(2): 235–249. doi: 10.1006/jmla.2000.2750
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.2000.2750 [Google Scholar]
  3. Carlsson, M.O. , Zou, K.H. , Yu, C.R. , Liu, K. & Sun, F.W
    2014 A comparison of nonparametric and parametric methods to adjust for baseline measures. Contemporary clinical trials, 37(2): 225–233. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2014.01.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2014.01.002 [Google Scholar]
  4. Carroll, J.B
    1981 Twenty-five years of research on foreign language aptitude. Individual differences and universals in language learning aptitude, 83–118.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. 1990 Cognitive abilities in foreign language aptitude: Then and now. Language aptitude reconsidered, 11–29.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Carroll, J.B. & Sapon, S.M
    1959Modern language aptitude test. San Antonio, Texas: The Psychological Corporation.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. 1967Modern Language Aptitude Test-Elementary Manual. San Antonio, Texas: The Psychological Corporation.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Ceci, S.J
    1991 How Much Does Schooling Influence General Intelligence and Its Cognitive Components? A Reassessment of the Evidence. Developmental Psychology, 27(5): 703–722. doi: 10.1037/0012‑1649.27.5.703
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.27.5.703 [Google Scholar]
  9. De Bot, K
    2013 Circadian rhythms and second language development. International Journal of Bilingualism, online access. doi: 1367006913489201.
    https://doi.org/1367006913489201 [Google Scholar]
  10. DeKeyser, R
    2000 The robustness of critical period effects in second language acquisition. Studies in second language acquisition, 22(04): 499–533.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. 2008 Implicit and Explicit Learning. InThe handbook of second language acquisition. (Blackwell handbooks in linguistics) C. Doughty & M. Long (eds.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Dörnyei, Z
    2010 “The relationship between language aptitude and language learning motivation: Individual differences from a dynamic systems perspective”. InContinuum companion to second language acquisition. E. Macaro (ed.), 247–267. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Dörnyei, Z. & Ushioda, E
    (eds.) 2009Motivation, language identity and the L2 self. Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Eisenstein, M
    1980 Childhood bilingualism and adult language learning aptitude. Revue Internationale De Psychologie Appliquee/International Review of Applied Psychology, 29(1–2): 159–172. doi: 10.1111/j.1464‑0597.1980.tb00888.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.1980.tb00888.x [Google Scholar]
  15. Flege, J.E. , Yeni-Komshian, G.H. & Liu, S
    1999 Age constraints on second-language acquisition. Journal of memory and language, 41(1): 78–104. doi: 10.1006/jmla.1999.2638
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1999.2638 [Google Scholar]
  16. Gholamain, M. & Geva, E
    1999 Orthographic and Cognitive Factors in the Concurrent Development of Basic Reading Skills in English and Persian. Language Learning, 49(2): 183–217. doi: 10.1111/0023‑8333.00087
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0023-8333.00087 [Google Scholar]
  17. Grañena, G
    2013a “Cognitive aptitudes for second language learning and the LLAMA Language Aptitude Test.” InSensitive periods, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment, G. Grañena , & M. Long (eds.), 105–129. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. doi: 10.1075/lllt.35.04gra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.35.04gra [Google Scholar]
  18. 2013b Individual differences in sequence learning ability and second language acquisition in early childhood and adulthood. Language Learning, 63(4): 665–703. doi: 10.1111/lang.12018
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12018 [Google Scholar]
  19. Grañena, G. & Long, M
    2013a Age of onset, length of residence, language aptitude, and ultimate l2 attainment in three linguistic domains. Second Language Research, 29(3): 311–343. doi: 10.1177/0267658312461497
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658312461497 [Google Scholar]
  20. (eds.) 2013bSensitive periods, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment (Vol. 35). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. doi: 10.1075/lllt.35
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.35 [Google Scholar]
  21. Green, D. & Meara, P
    1987 The effects of script on visual search. Second Language Research, 3(2): 102–113. doi: 10.1177/026765838700300202
    https://doi.org/10.1177/026765838700300202 [Google Scholar]
  22. Grigorenko, E.L. , Sternberg, R.J. & Ehrman, M.E
    2000 A Theory‐Based Approach to the Measurement of Foreign Language Learning Ability: The Canal‐F Theory and Test. The Modern Language Journal, 84(3): 390–405. doi: 10.1111/0026‑7902.00076
    https://doi.org/10.1111/0026-7902.00076 [Google Scholar]
  23. Hamada, M. & Koda, K
    2008 Influence of first language orthographic experience on second language decoding and word learning. Language Learning, 58(1): 1–31. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2007.00433.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2007.00433.x [Google Scholar]
  24. Johnson, J.S. & Newport, E.L
    1989 Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive psychology, 21(1): 60–99. doi: 10.1016/0010‑0285(89)90003‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(89)90003-0 [Google Scholar]
  25. Kormos, J
    2013 New conceptualizations of language aptitude in second language attainment. Sensitive periods, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment, 35, 131.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Krashen, S.D
    1981 Aptitude and attitude in relation to second language acquisition and learning. Individual differences and universals in language learning aptitude, 155–175.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Larson-Hall, J. & Dewey, D
    2012 An examination of the effects of input, aptitude, and motivation on the language proficiency of missionaries learning Japanese as a second language. Second language acquisition abroad: The LDS missionary experience, 45, 51.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Lenneberg, E.H
    1967Biological foundations of language (Vol. 68). New York: Wiley.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Lundell, F.F. & Sandgren, M
    2013 High-level proficiency in late L2 acquisition Relationships between collocational production. InSensitive periods, language aptitude, and ultimate L2 attainment. G. Grañena & M. Long (eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. doi: 10.1075/lllt.35.09for
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.35.09for [Google Scholar]
  30. Manning, M
    1995Borland’s official no-nonsense guide to Delphi 2. Indianapolis: Sams.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. McLaughlin, B
    1990 The relationship between first and second languages: Language proficiency and language aptitude. The development of second language proficiency, 158–178. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524568.014
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524568.014 [Google Scholar]
  32. Meara, P
    2005LLAMA language aptitude tests: The manual. Swansea: Lognostics.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. 2013 Imaginary Words. InThe encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. C. Chapelle (ed.). Chichester: Wiley
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Muñóz, C
    2014 The Association Between Aptitude Components and Language Skills in Young Learners. InEssential Topics in Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism.Studies in Honor of David Singleton. M. Pawlak & L. Aronin (eds.), 51–68. London: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑01414‑2_4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01414-2_4 [Google Scholar]
  35. Muñoz, C. & Singleton, D
    2011 A critical review of age-related research on L2 ultimate attainment. Language Teaching, 44(01): 1–35. doi: 10.1017/S0261444810000327
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444810000327 [Google Scholar]
  36. Nation, R. & McLaughlin, B
    1986 Novices and experts: An information processing approach to the “good language learner” problem. Applied Psycholinguistics, 7(01): 41–55. doi: 10.1017/S0142716400007177
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716400007177 [Google Scholar]
  37. Nayak, N. , Hansen, N. , Krueger, N. & McLaughlin, B
    1990 Language‐Learning Strategies in Monolingual and Multilingual Adults. Language Learning, 40(2): 221–244. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1990.tb01334.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1990.tb01334.x [Google Scholar]
  38. Opitz, C
    2011First language attrition and second language acquisition in a second language environment (Doctoral dissertation, Trinity College Dublin.).
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Ortega, L
    2009 Foreign Language Aptitude. InUnderstanding second language acquisition. London: Hodder Education, 145–166.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Oxford, R
    1990Language Learning Strategies. What every teacher should know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Parry, T.S. & Stansfield, C.W
    1990Language aptitude reconsidered (Vol. 74). New York: Prentice Hall.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Partchev, I. , De Boeck, P. & Steyer, R
    2013 How much power and speed is measured in this test?Assessment, 20(2): 242–252. doi: 10.1177/1073191111411658
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191111411658 [Google Scholar]
  43. Petersen, C.R. & Al-Haik, A.R
    1976 The Development of the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB). Educational and Psychological Measurement, 36(2): 369–380. doi: 10.1177/001316447603600216
    https://doi.org/10.1177/001316447603600216 [Google Scholar]
  44. Pimsleur, P
    1966Pimsleur language aptitude battery. Harcourt, Brace & World.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Piske, T. , MacKay, I.R. & Flege, J.E
    2001 Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of phonetics, 29(2): 191–215. doi: 10.1006/jpho.2001.0134
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.2001.0134 [Google Scholar]
  46. Quade, D
    1967 Rank analysis of covariance. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 62(320): 1187–1200. doi: 10.1080/01621459.1967.10500925
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1967.10500925 [Google Scholar]
  47. Robinson, P
    2001 Individual differences, cognitive abilities, aptitude complexes and learning conditions in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 17(4): 368–392. doi: 10.1191/026765801681495877
    https://doi.org/10.1191/026765801681495877 [Google Scholar]
  48. 2013 Aptitude in Second Language Acquisition. InThe Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. C. Chapelle (ed.). Chichester: Wiley
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Rogers, V
    2015 Testing the LLAMA aptitude tests: an overview. Presented at Language Research Centre seminar series , Swansea University. Available at: viviennerogers.info/wp-uploads/2011/06/LRC2015_Rogers.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Rogers, V. , Barnett-Legh, T. , Curry, C. & Davey, E
    2015 Validating the LLAMA aptitude tests. Presented at EUROSLA 2015 , York. Available at: viviennerogers.info/wp-uploads/2011/06/EUROSLA2015_Rogers.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Sáfár, A. & Kormos, J
    2008 Revisiting problems with foreign language aptitude. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 46(2): 113–136. doi: 10.1515/IRAL.2008.005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/IRAL.2008.005 [Google Scholar]
  52. Salthouse, T.A
    2009 When does age-related cognitive decline begin?Neurobiology of aging, 30(4): 507–514. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.09.023
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.09.023 [Google Scholar]
  53. Sawyer, M
    1992 Language Aptitude and Language Experience: Are They Related?The language programs of the International University of Japan: working papers, 3, 27–45.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Service, E. & Kohonen, V
    1995 Is the relation between phonological memory and foreign language learning accounted for by vocabulary acquisition?Applied Psycholinguistics, 16(02): 155–172. doi: 10.1017/S0142716400007062
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716400007062 [Google Scholar]
  55. Service, E
    1992 Phonology, working memory, and foreign-language learning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 45(1): 21–50. doi: 10.1080/14640749208401314
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14640749208401314 [Google Scholar]
  56. Skehan, P
    2002 Theorising and updating aptitude. Individual differences and instructed language learning, 2: 69–94. doi: 10.1075/lllt.2.06ske
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.2.06ske [Google Scholar]
  57. Smeds, H
    2012 Perceptual compensation in blind second language (L2) learners Paper presented at the Nordic conference for bilingualism, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Retrieved from: www.biling.su.se/om-oss/kontakt/medarbetare/helena-smeds-1.91491
  58. Snow, R.E
    1992 Aptitude theory: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Educational psychologist, 27(1): 5–32. doi: 10.1207/s15326985ep2701_3
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep2701_3 [Google Scholar]
  59. Sparks, R.L. , Ganschow, L. , Fluharty, K. & Little, S
    1995 An exploratory study on the effects of Latin on the native language skills and foreign language aptitude of students with and without learning disabilities. Classical Journal, 165–184.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Sparks, R. & Ganschow, L
    2001 Aptitude for learning a foreign language. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 90–111. doi: 10.1017/S026719050100006X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S026719050100006X [Google Scholar]
  61. Speciale, G. , Ellis, N.C. & Bywater, T
    2004 Phonological sequence learning and short-term store capacity determine second language vocabulary acquisition. Applied psycholinguistics, 25(02): 293–321. doi: 10.1017/S0142716404001146
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716404001146 [Google Scholar]
  62. Sternberg, R.J
    2002 “The theory of successful intelligence and its implications of language aptitude testing”. InIndividual differences and instructed language learning. P. Robinson (ed.), 13–44. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. doi: 10.1075/lllt.2.04ste
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.2.04ste [Google Scholar]
  63. Thompson, A.S
    2013 The interface of language aptitude and multilingualism: Reconsidering the bilingual/multilingual dichotomy. The Modern Language Journal, 97: 685–701. doi: 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2013.12034.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2013.12034.x [Google Scholar]
  64. Wesche, M
    1981 Language aptitude measures in streaming, matching students with methods, and diagnosis of learning problems. InIndividual differences and universals in language learning aptitude. K. Diller , (ed.), 119–139.
    [Google Scholar]
  65. Wild, C.L. , Durso, R. & Rubin, D.B
    1982 Effect of increased test‐taking time on test scores by ethnic group, years out of school, and sex. Journal of Educational Measurement, 19(1): 19–28. doi: 10.1111/j.1745‑3984.1982.tb00111.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-3984.1982.tb00111.x [Google Scholar]
  66. Wong, W. & Pyun, D.O
    2012 The Effects of Sentence Writing on Second Language French and Korean Lexical Retention. Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 68(2): 164–189. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.68.2.164
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.68.2.164 [Google Scholar]
  67. Xiang, H. , Dediu, D. , Roberts, L. , Oort, E.V. , Norris, D.G. & Hagoort, P
    2012 The structural connectivity underpinning language aptitude, working memory, and IQ in the perisylvian language network. Language learning,62 (s2): 110–130. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2012.00708.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00708.x [Google Scholar]
  68. Yilmaz, Y
    2013 Relative effects of explicit and implicit feedback: The role of working memory capacity and language analytic ability. Applied Linguistics, 34(3): 344–368. doi: 10.1093/applin/ams044
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/ams044 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error