A great amount of research has taken place trying to answer the question whether men's and women's approach to language learning is different, and more importantly, whether it causes one gender advantage upon the other.

The debate about whether women are better at language learning has been around for a while.

A research published last year in the journal Neuropsychologia, showed that girls/women's learning attributes are more abstract. On the other hand, boys/ Men tend to learn better when the concepts they are studying is reinforced with visual cues such as words and illustrations, or auditory cues through listening or repetition.

Males and females use different areas of their brain to process and learn a language.

there is not really a big gender gap in terms of studying a language. Male and female have the same ability; the difference lies in how each of them processes and learn the language.Each use their brain differently to get to the same result in the end: fluency.

It is important to use learning strategies efficiently to become successful at language learning. Those who achieve a high level of second language proficiency are the ones who are active strategy users. And we’ve talked in the past about the importance of reading strategies in the acquisition of a second language. Insofar, no one has tried to ascertain whether there is a significant difference between the type of strategies used by men and women, and the frequency with which they use them.

Is there a difference between the type and frequency of reading strategies used by men and women?

The Study

A study carried out by Alexander Poole, was published in the Journal of College Reading and learning,36(1),2005 trying to answer the question “if and how second language reading strategy at the university level differs according to gender”.

Various studies dealing with second language learning strategies at the university level showed that women used them more, but others have reported very few differences between men and women.

Poole studied 248 ESL students: 110 females and 138 males. They were advanced learners and they were from 9 different language groups and the average age of the students was 23.2 years.

They filled a survey called ‘the survey of reading strategy’ or SORS and the aim was to record self-perceived academic reading strategies.

The SORS contains three kind of strategies:

Global reading strategies

Strategies that students use to plan, monitor and direct their reading like checking to see if their guesses are correct, explicitly deciding which material to pay attention to and what to ignore, and entering a reading task with a certain purpose or goal.

Problem-solving strategies

They are procedures that learners use while reading a text to clear up misunderstanding or difficulties in text comprehension, visualising information to help them remember it, and guessing the meaning of unknown words.

Support strategies

They are auxiliary materials and resources aimed at increasing text comprehension, such as note taking and highlighting important information.

The results Pool reported are as follow:

* There is no significant difference between males and females regarding their overall strategy use.

* None of the strategies was used with low frequency.

* Both genders used problem-solving with high frequency

* Global and support strategies were used with medium frequency by both genders.

He concluded that the strategies used among males and females were very similar, and they used the same number of overall strategies. Advanced male and female college ESL students are more similar than different.

Both female and male students who want to achieve higher second language(L2) reading proficiency use the same strategy to reach their goal.

Oxford (1993) suggests that females tend to be higher L2 achievers because of their higher level of strategy use and not because innate gender differences. This-unfortunately- has not been proven by Poole.

This might open the door to new investigative works trying to analyse why there is a gender difference in general learning strategy and not in reading strategy use.


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