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Early gender diversity in reading and writing: Research and didactical consequences

Learning languages is strongly influenced by an existing, but in institutionalised settings of language learning, still widely disregarded diversity. In many respects, boys and girls, men and women obviously learn and use languages in a completely different way. This initially hypothetical claim, based on pedagogical and educational as well as linguistic and psychological observations, can currently be newly restated using neuro-scientific research. Extraordinary progress in functional brain imaging now allows scientists to broadly understand the neural systems serving language skills, and how these systems differ in gender. So, they can prove evidence of developmental differences between males and females in language acquisition related brain structure during childhood as well as adolescence. A cross-science, non-statistical synopsis of these studies, focusing on early reading and writing competences, is absolutely necessary to prepare, identify and select evidence-based implications. In some specific aspects, the results indicate a paradigm shift in early reading and writing skills development to the explicit advantage of females, mainly in the pre-primary and primary language classroom. These, however, may not lead to discrimination or injustice of any kind – not even through school didactics or pedagogy for example – but have to be considered an asset.

KEYWORDS: language acquisition, early language learning, gender diversity, neuro-didactics, differentiation, reading and writing skills

Heiner Böttger. Full Professor of English Didactics and EFL at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany. Chairman of the Early Language Learning Advisory Board, founded in Munich. Present research mainly focuses on the preconditions for language learning and the role of memory within the language acquisition process. Explores how children develop communicative competences, which language strategies they use and when, the brain processes underlying language development and the jigsaw pieces for acquiring three or more languages.


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