For as long as the modern day woman has existed there has been the question of whether women can really do things as good as, or even better than men. The gender battle is an ongoing everlasting point of contention. The fight for equal wages and salaries, the debate about who should be the main provider within the family structure, the question of whether men should be stay at home fathers, all these issues exist and is most likely to keep stewing on.
While working at Oxford English Academy I have often wondered who makes the better learner, male or female? As we always note with our students, personality, goals and general interest in the subject always plays a huge role in how a student performs. But can something as basic as the gender they were born into actually play a role too? Apparently so!
According to various studies women learn a foreign language faster than men. There are many reasons that attribute to this interesting fact. One such being the fact that women talk more! In general it is said that women can speak up to almost 20 000 words per day, where men will average almost 10 000. This means that not only do women talk more, they also use more words to express themselves. Females tend to make longer sentences than men do in general. (I can hear the nods of agreement from the male population out there!) Therefore, women (who are also less afraid of making mistakes) tend to practise their newly acquired skill more than men and do so with more abundance.
According to an article in the Washington Post women do make better language learners but specifically better English learners as well. The article discusses research done by Education First, on which Kate Bell, co-authors on the report had this to say:” Women use a wider range of learning strategies, which helps them to memorise vocabularies better…” However the reason for being better at learning English, specifically as a second language, comes back to gender equity in developing countries. Adam Bickelman was quoted saying,” In countries with low gender equity, women are more likely to be pushed toward careers in the humanities versus engineering, math or science.” This means that most teachers in these countries are females, making the English language more widely used by women.
Add to that the fact that women have also been proven to be more attentive listeners who analyse what they hear. (To the dismay of many a man I’m sure!) Through this analysis comes comprehension and finding the meaning of new words and new expressions, which is all key to mastering a second language.
All in all I do believe these factors play a role to a certain extent. However I have witnessed some amazingly fast learning and progression in some of our male students. It most definitely also comes down to the individual’s frame of mind, approach to the subject and general attitude towards their learning experience. Yet, it’s still good to know that the ladies are one up here. So for now, enough said!