Girls and boys learn to use language differently, according to a new study which found that girls were more likely to remember words while boys were more likely to create words and sentences in ‘real-time’.
Language scholars believe language uses both a mental dictionary and a mental grammar. The mental ‘dictionary’ stores sounds, words and common phrases, while mental ‘grammar’ involves the real-time composition of longer words and sentences. For example, making a longer word ‘walked’ from a smaller one ‘walk’. Most research into understanding how these processes work has been carried out with adults.
“Most researchers agree that the way we use language in our minds involves both storing and real-time composition,” said lead researcher Dr Cristina Dye, a specialist in child language development at Newcastle University. “But a lot of the specifics about how this happens are unclear, such as identifying exactly which parts of language are stored and which are composed.
“Most research on this topic has concentrated on adults and we wanted to see if studying children could help us learn more about these processes.”
A test based around 29 irregular verbs and 29 regular verbs was presented to the young participants. Only verbs which would be known by eight-year-olds were used.
They were presented with two sentences. One featured the verb in the context of the sentence, with the second sentence containing a blank to allow the children to produce the past-tense form. For example: Every day I walk to school. Just like every day, yesterday I ____ to school.
The children were asked to produce the missing word as quickly and as accurately as possible and their response times were recorded. The results were then analysed to discover which words were stored or created in real-time.
Results showed girls were more likely to memorise words and phrases – use their mental dictionary - while boys used mental grammar - i.e assembled these from smaller parts - more often.
The findings could have implications in the way youngsters are taught in the classroom, believes Dr Dye, who is based in the Centre for Research in Linguistics and Language Sciences.
She said: “What we found as we carried out the study was that girls were far more likely to remember forms like ‘walked’ while boys relied much more on their mental grammar to compose ‘walked’ from ‘walk’ and ‘ed’. This fits in with previous research which has identified differences between the sexes when it comes to memorizing facts and events, where girls also seem to have an advantage compared to boys.
“One interesting aside to this is that as girls often outperform boys at school, it could be that the curriculum is put together in a way which benefits the way girls learn. It may be worth further investigation to see if this is the case and if so, is there a way lessons could be changed so boys can get the most out of them too.”
Dye will be discussing aspects of the research at a conference called Grammar: Universals and Acquisitions at Cambridge University tomorrow, June 30th.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Kudos To "The Independent" Newspaper For Debunking Nibiru "Blood Moon" Hoax
- Climate Change Has Less Impact On Drought Than Previously Expected
- Your Microbiome Did Not Cause Your Weight Problem
- Dogs Understand Both Vocabulary And Intonation Of Human Speech
- Fewer Cardiovascular Drugs Being Studied In Clinical Trials
- State Of Academic Freedom 2016
- USDA Microbiologist Warns Bacteria In Vaping Products May Be A Health Concern
- "The question about pions and iron goes back to Mesonic Atoms (See: SciAm, Sergio De Bennedetti..."
- "Yes it is interesting. Actually planet 9 would be as big as Neptune if it exists, several times..."
- "Apparently planet 9 exists. Not Nobiru but another dwarf planet. This planet could destroy a couple..."
- "Thank you. You know, I am of the firm belief that if a blog has a title that includes Science in..."
- "Firstly, I want to inform everyone apart from Kaylee that the following doesn't apply to the topic..."
- <a href="/news/2016/08/30/how-do-herpes-drugs-work-9941">How Do Herpes Drugs Work? <i class="fa fa-angle-double-right"></i></a>
- <a href="/news/2016/08/30/school-meals-eat-tu-principals-9938">School meals - Eat tu Principals? <i class="fa fa-angle-double-right"></i></a>
- <a href="/annual-reports">Annual Reports <i class="fa fa-angle-double-right"></i></a>
- <a href="/news/2016/08/30/breastmilk-sugar-helps-prevent-group-b-strep-infection-babies-9934">Breastmilk Sugar Helps Prevent Group B Strep Infection in Babies <i class="fa fa-angle-double-right"></i></a>
- <a href="/news/2016/08/30/concussion-recovery-time-cut-half-when-athletes-immediately-sit-9933">Concussion Recovery Time Cut in Half When Athletes Immediately Sit <i class="fa fa-angle-double-right"></i></a>
- <a href="/news/2016/08/29/icymi-acshs-most-popular-articles-summer-9931">ICYMI: ACSH's Most Popular Articles of the Summer <i class="fa fa-angle-double-right"></i></a>
- Progress in refining the genetic causes of schizophrenia
- Researchers discover machines can learn by simply observing
- Technique could assess historic changes to Antarctic sea ice and glaciers
- Factors associated with improvement in survival following heart attack
- System may help treat rare genetic disorder, reduce severe side effects