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Gender Differences in Language Use and Learning

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Kendall Serpe

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Gender Differences in Language Use and Learning

Broca and Wernicke's Areas
•Area of Broca and Wernicke's are larger in women
Broca's area- associated with language output (located in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex)
• Wernicke's area- language inputs (located in the superior temporal cortex)
•Scientists did an experiment where they mesaured gray matter volumes in cortical regions in men and women
•23% larger volume for women in Broca's area
•13% larger volume in Wernicke's area
(Sabbatini, 1997) Tips for Teaching Girls

1. Use manipulatives
2. Promote exploration of the world
3. Promote leadership by creating working groups and teams
4. Provide opportunities for girls to study together
5. Encourage interest in activities or school subjects normally associated with male interest or success
6. Connect science and math to the real world so girls can more easily relate
7. Provide interesting reading
8. Allow girls to create their own challenges where they can make safe risks

(Sax, 2005)
Tips for Teaching Boys
1. Surround them with reading material that they will enjoy with a variety of reading levels to help them enjoy reading
2. Give writing assignments in which girls can write about description, sensory details and boys can describe events or actions
3. Keep verbal instruction short
4. Use graphic organizers
5. Utilize technology as a learning and teaching tool
6. Make lessons kinesthetic and experiential, allowing room to move
7. Use manipulatives that require boys to use fine motor skills
(Sax, 2005) Left Hemisphere versus Right Hemisphere

The left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical, sequential order
The right hemisphere is more visual and processes intuitively
Boys separate language: For boys, language is most often in the left hemisphere
Girls, however, use both hemispheres for language
Boys have a thicker right hemisphere. This means they are more spatial and mathematical.

Mostafa, Omnia. "Male/Female Brain Differences". Medical Education Online.

Research Findings: Brain Differences Appear Biological

-conducted by researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Haifa
-data showed that areas of the brain associated with language work harder in girls
-boys and girls rely on different parts of the brain when performing language tasks
-Procedure: Using an fMRI, the researchers measured brain activity in 31 boys and in 31 girls aged 9 to 15 as they performed spelling and writing language tasks.
-The tasks were delivered in two sensory modalities -- visual and auditory. When visually presented, the children read certain words without hearing them. Presented in an auditory mode, they heard words aloud but did not see them.
[Northwestern University. Boys' And Girls' Brains Are Different: Gender Differences In Language Appear Biological.]

Conclusions from research...

*Girls showed greater activation in language areas of the brain than boys. Their performance accuracy correlated with the degree of activation in these language areas.
*In boys, accurate performance depended, when reading words, on how hard visual areas of the brain worked. In hearing words, boys' performance depended on how hard auditory areas of the brain worked.
*language processing is more sensory in boys and more abstract in girls
*This could have major implications for modalities for teaching children and even provide support for advocates of single sex classrooms!
[Northwestern University. Boys' And Girls' Brains Are Different: Gender Differences In Language Appear Biological.] Sociolinguistics!!

What does that even mean?
-It is the study of language and linguistic behavior as influenced by social and cultural factors.

"Sociolinguistic". The Free Dictionary. April 26, 2010 <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sociolinguistic>.
Fun Facts: Different Purposes for using Language in Society

--Body language is used differently by men and women. Women typically use nonverbal communication directly while men use it indirectly.
--what? Men and women express gender communication differences in content, style, and structure. Men often talk about sports, money, and business; women most often discuss people, feelings, and relationships.
--why? Men often express themselves to fix a problem, converse for competition, and talk to resolve problems. Women most often express themselves to understand, converse to support, and talk to connect.
--how? Men typically use precise words, to the point, without descriptive details. Women are more detailed, apologetic, and vague.

[Kelley, Rhonda. "Communication between Men and Women in the Context of the Christian Community".]
Two Cultures Theory

-developed by Daniel Maltz and Ruth Borker
-conversational styles differ between men and women
-different styles may be responsible for the miscommunication that often occurs in male-female conversations.
-Example: "mmhmm" women interpret as "yes, continue.." men interpret as "she's agreeing with me"
-miscommunication stems from the two sets of rules for conversational maintenance: one set for men, the other for women
-the rules exist because men and women form their own sub-cultures; rules are learned from peers, NOT adults (ages 5-15)

[ Daniel N. Maltz and Ruth A. Borker, A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication. In Coates, J. (ed.), Language and Gender: A Reader, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1998).] Two Cultures Theory continued: Gender Specific Characteristics

*Characteristics specific to females: play in small groups. Often pair off. Friendship involves intimacy and loyalty. Most of the relationship revolves around words. Conversation is interactional. Occasionally referred to as “Friendly talk”
*Characteristics specific to males: play in large groups. Language is used to assert dominance and maintain an audience. Monologues for entertainment purposes. Tell lots of jokes to keep attention. Respond to other men with challenges rather than support.
*Summary: Maltz and Borker argue that these differences in the rules for conversation maintenance are at least partly responsible for conflict in mixed-gender friendly conversation.

[Daniel N. Maltz and Ruth A. Borker, A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication. In Coates, J. (ed.), Language and Gender: A Reader, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1998).]
Opposing theories: Two Cultures Theory versus The Dominance Theory

-why did language differences come into being? can be answered by the Two cultures theory or Dominance Theory
-The dominance theory: many of the typical features of "women's language" are characteristics of a "powerless language". It Implies that Males are more powerful and influential than females.
-says that language differences are based on situation-specific authority or power differences and not gender.
-On the other hand, the two-cultures theory explains differences in conversational style by arguing that men and women are part of different sub-cultures

"Language and Gender". English Teaching Online. April 26, 2010 <http://www.teachit.co.uk/armoore/lang/gender.htm#dominance>.
Impact of Culture on Language: Boys
**From birth, boys and girls are treated differently by adults. The culture and the stereotypes that arise from a specific culture affect language use and learning.
-encouraged to be more physical
-talk less as they play
-more likely to be bought video games
-vocabulary is less reflective and more active
-heavily influenced by peer culture

[“Gender Differences in Learning.”]

1mpact of Culture on Language: Girls

-spend more time in the presence of adults
-encouraged to talk about themselves, including motivations and behaviors
-receive praise for neatness and accuracy but not risk taking behavior

[“Gender Differences in Learning.”]

What Girls are Better At:
perceptual speed tasks
most language functions
tasks of ideational fluency and verbal fluency
rapid access and retrieval of information from memory
remembering faces and associating with feelings
("Gender Differences in Learning")
Boys are Better At:
spatial tasks
mechanical skills
mathematical computation tasks
thinking in concepts and patterns
persisting longer in covert retrieval
("Gender Differences in Learning") Works Cited
Daniel N. Maltz and Ruth A. Borker, A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication. In Coates, J. (ed.), Language and Gender: A Reader, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1998).
“Gender Differences in Learning.” Web. 26 Apr 2010. <http://alumni.st-chris.net/wholeschool/learning/Other/ GenderDifferences.pdf>.
Gurian, M. & Stevens, K. (2005) The Minds of Boys. San Francisco: Josey Bass.
Gurian, M. & Stevens, K. “With Boys and Girls in Mind,” Educational Leadership, Nov. 2004.
Kelley, Rhonda. "Communication between Men and Women in the Context of the Christian Community". The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. April 26, 2010. <http://www.cbmw.org/Resources/Articles/Communication-between-Men-and-Women>.
"Language and Gender". English Teaching Online. April 26, 2010 <http://www.teachit.co.uk/armoore/lang/gender.htm#dominance>.
Mostafa, Omnia. "Male/Female Brain Differences". Medical Education Online. April 26, 2010. <http://www.medicaleducationonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=46&Itemid=69>.
Sabbatini, Renato. "Are There Differences between the Brains of Males and Females." State University of Campinas, 1997. Web. 26 Apr 2010. <http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n11/mente/eisntein/cerebro-homens.html>.
Sax, Leanoard (2005). Why Gender Matters. New York: Broadway Books.
ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2008/03/080303120346.htm
"Sociolinguistic". The Free Dictionary. April 26, 2010

Gender Differences in Language Use and Learning

Kendall and Molly The Brain
The pre-frontal cortex develops earlier and grows larger in girls than in boys
Girls have stronger neural connectors between right and left brains
Larger hippocampus
Corpus Callosum 25% larger in girls
More cortical areas devoted to verbal functioning in girls
(Gurian et al., 2004)

Differences in Learning
Girls: Boys:
•Better at object discrimination •Better at object location
•Will focus on faces and things •Will focus on movement
•Use more advanced part of the brain •Use more primitive parts of the brain
•Are more verbal emotive •Are more spatial mechanical
•Develop language and fine •Develop targeting and spatial memory
motor skills earlier than boys earlier than girls
•Prefer to read fiction •Prefer to read nonfiction
•Retain sensory memory detail well •Don’t retain sensory details well

(Gurian et al., 2004)
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