Influence of Gender Differences on Second Language Acquisition

General Introduction

Gender difference, as social phenomenon, has been reflected in language and been studies in many years for a long time. In past decades, sociolinguistic research dealing with relationship between gender differences and language has undergone significant change and gain full development the use of language can be shaped by many factors, among which gender has a leading role gender is a prominent   element of language learning, has become a subject of research for years. Previous studies of anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, on which they did not a lot of researches have shown that male and female students learn, study, and use language differently. American psychologist E. L. Thordike showed that girls are better than boys in terms of language expression and short-term memory with experiments, and intuition, space analysis of comprehensive ability, and experimental observation. Gender is an issue with important theoretical and psychological assumption in second language learning. Also, a good number of studies cites that girls learns acquire language better and faster than their counter parts. American linguist Ellis explicitly mentioned in his book “The study of second language acquisition” that there exist differences of language learners in language learning, such as gender differences of learning, age differences cognitive differences, personality differences, etc. (Ellis, 1994). And in the study of gender differences, most researches agree that women are superior to men in learning a foreign language (Li, 2005).

The attention to students’ individual differences becomes one of the most important subjects of education theory and practice, and the gender differences are necessary link. This thesis is based on education students teaching, stars with the point of “the gender difference is that the differences male and female students showed in the learning activity” , and puts forward countermeasures for difference teaching, from the aspects of gender differences in learning language in variety of performance such in language learning style, learning memory, learning motivation and the concept of  gender differences and the selection and use of learning strategy.

1-The research problem

This research aims to explore the factors that influence gender to become more proficient or not in acquiring language. It also aims to draw attention to understand the significant difference that exist between gender.

2-The purpose of the study

The purpose of the study is to serve students university, trainee teachers of all ages and training on work levels. It covers two aspects of gender awareness. First of all, it supposed to raise gender awareness with differences in students and secondly, it is supposed to help teachers to raise gender awareness difference in teaching second language.

3-The motivation of the study
this study is crucial to search on this topic especially, as an educators, we should admit this difference because it will bring the light to constantly, attainment successful learning process. Besides, it is very important to discover the characteristics performance in learners’ students individually.

 Theoretical framework

the research of gender differences originated in the west, so of foreign writing on the gender difference are countless. Gender difference is one of the research contents pf differential psychology, with a history of nearly hundred years since the journal of W. Stein Differential Psychology published in Germany in 1911. In the 1920s, the relationship between gender differences and language learning took the attention of sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists in which the produced a lot of researches. And factors of gender differences will be discussed in the following aspects.

I-the factors of gender differences

1-Gender differences in physical.

Psychology studies have shown that the partial side of the two brain hemispheres of men and women is quite different in the development speed and level of specialization. Women’s left hemisphere on sexual partial side of sexual function is earlier and stronger than men. So, they are better than men in terms of language expression and short-term memory. Men on the other hand, develop the right hemisphere, so they are better than women in spatial perception analysis, comprehensive ability and experimental observation. According to Sousa (2011) the difference in brain structure between girls and boys results in learning differences. Because the corpus callusum, with the nerval cable connecting the two hemispheres of the brain is much thicker in girls. This may explain that girls are better at connecting both hemispheres and using them together in cognitive process. Sousa (2011), the Hippocampus, which is responsible for memory formation and consolidation, grows more in girls than boys during adolescence he cited this as a plausible cause of girls’ better language, arithmetic and sequencing skills.
discussing the structural and performance difference between males and females, Sousa wrote that “[a] though no one knowns for sure, the research evidence suggest that the influence of parental hormones, natural selection, and environment could explain these results” (2011,p183).

Women’s sound and pronunciation organs developed much earlier than men, expression and their verbal expression ability and auditory perception are stronger than boys. Female’s hearing for dominant language is usually sensitive consciousness so that their English grades generally better than men’s.
from theory to experience, all researches show that female student’s memory is significantly, better than that of male students in second language learning (including understanding, mechanical memory, short -term memory and long-term memory). And girl’s memory activities are also far stronger than boys. In a word foreign language learning is a memory (Jia, 1996).

2 education and environmental   factors:

Feng points that the individual style of thinking is developed with age in the Education Psychology “according to the research of school period is the mainly image abstract thinking, and the senior high school period main theoretical model on abstract logic thinking”(Feng,1997).

Senior high school Students their abstract logical thinking should be in the proper level. Until now, however, people often think that abstract logical of girls is less than that of boys, because female suffers family, social and gender discrimination in school education. However, there is no scientific basis in second language acquisition.

In fact, numerous examples show that the girl’s abstract logical thinking in images is better than boys.

On second language acquisition- English language learning, students should not only need a better image thinking, but also need to have a good abstract logical thinking ability, especially in grammar learning and reading comprehension. And girls just have these two styles of thinking. So, it is so natural that girls have better English scores than boys.

3. Gender differences in intelligence quality

It well knows that intelligence is not a kind of single ability but the combination of all attention, observation, memory, thinking ability. And of these factors, different gender students show their different characteristics, so as teachers should make the student’s show their distinct gender characteristics thought learning activities and it has a great influence on acquisition of language (especially English). These differences mainly display in the following aspects:

First, perception is the beginning of all human activities and also the foundation of knowledge. According to the researches, perspective of male is more sensitive than that of female. While the hearing, smell, pain ant tactile sensations of women are significantly higher than that of men, especially, the fingertip tactile sensitivity, which makes women more outstanding than men in the field of fine operating activities. As a result of these differences, there are obvious differences in perception between men and women. American Michael conclude that the male is given priority to visual perception and spatial perception and female take advantage in the auditory perception of voice recognition and positioning. So, girls English listening comprehension ability is better than boys.

Second, according to memory, it is usually divided into image memory and motion memory, mood memory, logical memory. Male and female students are significantly different in the contents of memory. Boys are good at logical memory, while girls are good at image, emotion memory. And it is surprising that girls can arouse some exciting and painful memory materials according to a certain kind of representation or emotion. In the nature of the contents to memory, boys attach great importance to the understanding from the point, and they pay more attention to the memory of materials with the objective’s reality and experience to the memory of materials with the objective reality and experience of contact analysis, analyzing the emmer relation between memory materials.  

While girls focus on mechanical memory, and their foreign language word memory ability, is generally higher than boys.

Memory is the most important factors affecting language learning. Second language acquisition has a very close relationship with memory; we can say that where there is memory, there is rich knowledge. Good memory will help second language learners to learn a second language as soon as possible. “Memory is very important in foreign language teaching and learning; and even, foreign language learning program is a memory” (Hu, 1996).

4. Gender differences in learning strategies
Learning strategy is ways for learners to store and process information.

According to the processing theory, the linguist Mott divided strategies into three categories: metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies and social/affective strategies (O. Malley, 1990). With the right strategy, learners can correct incorrect learning behaviors in second language acquisition at any time, making more self-learning guidance, and higher efficiencies. According to our daily teaching observation, it can be easily found that girls’ English strategy is more conscious than boys. Their learning strategies include the plan and reflection.