Are women really better at learning a language?

A recent article in Scientific American outlined results from a study showing that girls completing a linguistic abilities task showed greater activity in brain areas implicated specifically in language encoding, which decipher information abstractly. Boys, on the other hand, showed a lot of activity in regions tied to visual and auditory functions.

The implications are numerous. It appears that boys need to be taught language both visually (with a textbook) and orally (through a lecture) to get a full grasp of the subject, whereas a girl may be able to pick up the concepts by either method.

At Euroasia, I’ve observed over the years that we consistently have more girls (OK, women) than boys in our classes. On average, women make up about 60%-70% of our client base, and it’s not surprising to see all-female classes at times. I think there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Perhaps language learning is simply more appealing to women. Others would say that girls like the romance associated with learning a second language. It seems like now we have some more compelling biological reasons behind this phenomenon.

However, it has also been interesting to observe the guys who come along for language classes. I’m unsure if it’s PC to say so, but it also appears that the guys who tend to want to learn a second language (in spite of being supposedly biologically inferior in this respect) are more sophisticated, confident, urbane and adventurous. If guys are indeed behind the proverbial eight-ball, perhaps those who choose to learn a language need these qualities in order to succeed. Either that or simply because they wish to be in the presence of beautiful, intelligent women. And I would add that there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

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