What’s the key to success in learning a foreign language? Surely it’s a genuine desire to communicate with other people. I can’t think of another valid reason. That’s why in general women are better than men at learning languages. If you’re a man and you want to learn a language, I’m going to tell you why you will find it more difficult than a woman and what you can do about it.
I’m probably going to be accused of stereotyping men and women here, but time and time again studies have shown that generally, (there are always exceptions) men score higher in maths tests and women score higher in language tests. I’m not a scientist, and I don’t want to bore you with scientific detail, but my experiences as a teacher pretty much confirm the scientists’ view.
When I’m teaching a conversation class, it’s instantly obvious who are going to make the fastest progress because these are the ones who quickly get involved by asking questions. And more often than not, it’s the female members of the group that ask the most questions.
Women are simply more interested in human beings than men. They genuinely mean it when they ask “how are you?” Being wives and mothers may have something to do with it, I mean, they are conditioned by society to be the ones that care. Men, on the other hand, are less interested in people and more interested in things, notably, cars, computers, gadgets, etc.
If you are man reading this article, you have to get out of your macho cave and learn to be more interested in people. And swallow your pride when it comes to making mistakes. Women have fewer complexes about committing errors, because the important thing for them is to discover things about their interlocutors. We all learn by making mistakes, it’s a natural part of the process. Learning a language is not a competition – men sometimes see their limitations as a “defeat” so they prefer not to speak at all.
Winston Churchill once said, “jaw jaw is better than war war.” Learning to understand how other people think and what motivates them is the key to good communication, which can be even more difficult in a foreign language. So you guys, take a leaf out the girls’ book, and be more interested in the people around you!