Are Women Still Better at Learning Languages? Examining Gender Differences on Learners’ Academic Performance at University


Several past studies (for instance, Steffens & Jelenec: 2011, Heinzmann: 2009) investigated gender stereotypes on language learning at school. They found that girls were better at language learning than boys. Whatever Japanese university students are majoring in, English is one of compulsory subjects for them to complete their degrees. The author of this study is currently teaching English at one of Japanese universities and he notices that female university students tend to get higher grades in many of his English classes. The aim of this study is to investigate whether female students perform better at leaning English at university level. In addition, it examines reasons why female students are better at learning English than male students. Participants of this study are both 1st and 2nd year students of a private university in Japan (N=386: male students & N=232: female students). This study adopts both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Their final grades in the past two years were quantitatively examined. The results show that female students tend to get higher grades. In this study, 47% of female students got an A+ or A while 30% of male students got an A+ or A. However, only 4% of female students got a F but 16% of male students got a F. The quantitative results tend to prove the myth that women are better language learners than men. As for the qualitative approach, this study discusses reasons of why women tend to be better language learners which will be presented at the conference.

Author Information
Yoshihiko Yamamoto, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2015
Stream: Gender studies / Feminist Theory

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