ROLLS 2 April: Anna Pauwels, Gender and language learning

This week for the Research on Languages and Linguistics seminar series  Prof. Anne Pauwels from SOAS is visiting to talk about ‘Gender and language learning: gendered learning?’. As usual, the talk will be in A071, from 13.00-14.30 and is open to all. 

Anglophone societies appear to have a complex relationship with the learning of languages. Although their populations display a significant degree of bi- or multilingualism, the formal learning of other/foreign languages is rather scarce in comparison to that found in many other societies. This is regularly affirmed through cross-national and regional surveys of second/foreign languages (e.g. Eurobarometer surveys on language learning). Furthermore, there is significant evidence that the participation in language learning is particularly gendered in anglophone societies – the learning of foreign/other languages seems to be a predominantly female (academic) pursuit or choice. Beyond the compulsory stages, boys’ engagement with such learning is low. In this presentation I explore  reasons for this differentiation by drawing upon an extensive study of boys (not) learning languages (Carr & Pauwels 2008) in Australia. This will be complemented by a more recent study investigating gendered behavior in language learning involving the internet. Both studies point towards similar reasons for gendered behavior in relation to language learning.


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