Language Matters: Does Gender Matter, Too?

It’s long been said that women are better at learning languages than men.  While broad statements like these always need to be looked at with a critical eye, there are some differences in the way women and men learn languages that can help explain why women tend to be more proficient at picking up a new language.

In children, boys and girls process language differently in the brain.  Girls’ brains show more activity in language encoding areas when learning language, while boys’ brains show more activity in in visual and aural areas.  This means that girls are more efficient in learning language abstractly, while boys need images and sounds to learn effectively.

Female language learners use more study methods than male learners, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening.

Female learners are four times more likely to talk with native speakers of the language they’re trying to learn, according to one language learning website.  These casual online conversations can help learners pick up slang and colloquialisms while becoming more comfortable with the language.

Finally, girls tend to be more motivated to learn languages in school than boys.  The reasons behind this are not known (and hotly debated), but it might have something to do with the idea that language learning is more female-dominated.

None of these facts necessarily prove that women are better at learning languages than men, but they do present some interesting evidence.  What do YOU think?

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