Individual Differences and Micro-argumentative Writing Skills in EFL: An Exploratory Study at a Hungarian University

  • Gyula TankóEmail author
  • Kata Csizér
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 29)


An extensive body of literature has been generated on the written argumentation produced by EFL students; however, research studies have not merged analytical perspectives from rhetorical, informal reasoning, and pragma-dialectic perspectives to analyze students’ argumentative writing. Furthermore, the relationship between individual differences (ID) variables and argumentation has received limited attention. In this study, we aimed to investigate high-achieving students’ ID variables profile (Dörnyei, The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, 2005; Dörnyei, The psychology of second language acquisition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009; Schmitt, An introduction to applied linguistics. Arnold Publishers, London, 2002) and written argumentation skills. The study involved the top 30% of 140 first-year English language majors from Budapest. A standardized questionnaire was constructed to collect data on university students’ motivated learning behavior, language-learning selves, anxiety, and self-efficacy as well as on their learning styles and self-regulation. Timed argumentative essays written by students were used to analyze written argumentation skills. The analytical tools employed in the analysis of argumentation skills were the taxonomy of argumentative theses (Tankó and Tamási, A comprehensive taxonomy of argumentative thesis statements: A preliminary pilot study. Working papers in language pedagogy, 2, 1–17. Available online at:, 2008), the justificatory argument model (Toulmin, The uses of argument. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003; Toulmin et al., An introduction to reasoning, 2nd ed. Collier Macmillan, New York, 1984), and the typology of complex argumentation (Van Eemeren et al., Argumentation analysis, evaluation, presentation. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, 2002). The ID profile of high achievers revealed that they are highly motivated learners with a strong ideal L2 self. Although this marked ID profile is reflected in their written argumentation skills, they also have weaknesses that need to be addressed in academic skills courses in order to further improve the quality of their argumentation. (This research was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA K83243).)


Academic writing Written argumentation Writing skills EFL Individual differences survey 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English Applied LinguisticsEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary

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