Question: Based on what I think I have understood about the disproval of left/right brain dominance etc, is there such a thing as someone who is naturally "good at languages"? Or are all pupils equally capable of excelling in foreign languages, dependent upon how good the teacher is?
anon answered on 27 Apr 2015:
Good question. I wrote a blog piece on the differences in learning between boys and girls in school, which many people have equated to differences in the structure of the brain. You can read the whole piece here http://bit.ly/1Jv62AW
Here is one of the most relevant portions though:
“Research has shown significant differences in the way minds of girls and boys function in relation to learning. Girl’s have been shown to have a larger hippocampus (memory storage area in the brain), stronger neural connectors (more sensually detailed memory storage, listening skills, etc.), and a faster developed/more active prefrontal cortex (reducing impulsivity). Boy’s brains have also been shown to have less oxytocin (a bonding chemical that helps neutralize impulsivity) and compartmentalize learning (less multitasking ability).”
That being said, I believe the environment shapes our ability to learn more so than any innate differences. It is likely that girls do better at learning languages because western culture shapes young girls to be more vocal (i.e. talk on the phone more, sing more, etc.). I do believe that all pupils are equally capable of excelling in foreign languages, depending on the quality of the teacher. Some will be more interested or comfortable learning a new language and it will seem to ‘come easier’ to them – but this isn’t necessarily related to innate differences in the brain – its probably just as related to their culture, personality, interest and experiences.