Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 June 2021
Giftedness, genius, and exceptional ability have captured the imagination of philosophers, educators, scientists, and researchers across disciplines for centuries. This chapter charts the giftedness concept through time and across competing theoretical paradigms. Those in the “nature” camp assert that giftedness is fundamentally inborn, while those who prioritize experience or “nurture” point to concentrated effort and practice, along with external opportunities, drive, etc.
Fuzzy terminology, narrow empirical approaches, and the inability to directly observe the mind-brain mean that the etiology of giftedness remains a mystery, and a point of heated contention in some disciplines. The problematics and usefulness of this concept for second language acquisition and learning are introduced, along with the argument for a broader, contextualized, and personalized account of L2 native-likeness.