Socioeconomic Status Affects Language Development Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1904 Words
Date:  2022-10-08


Socioeconomic status is the combined total degree of a family's economic and social situation relative to others based on factors like income occupation and occupation. It has long been agreed that different socioeconomic statuses affected the way children perceived and understood languages. However, until now there had not been concrete and provable research that was done on this subject. The language of children is not only affected by the socioeconomic status of the family that they come from but also affected by their gender. In this paper, I will be proving the hypotheses on how socioeconomic status and the gender of a child changes their ability to perceive and understand language.

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Thesis statement: Socioeconomic status of families and the children's gender affect the way these children perceive and understand language.


A research was conducted by researchers from University of Haifa and Northwestern University to see why girls have superior language abilities than boys. The researchers found out that the two parts of the brain that are associated with language are more pronounced and work harder in both girls and boys. Furthermore, boys as well as girls rely on entirely different parts of the brain when performing language tasks. As a result, they concluded that language processing in boys is more sensual while it is more theoretical in girls. By using magnetic resonance technology, the investigators measured the brain activity of 31 boys and 31 girls aged from nine to fifteen while they performed simple language tasks like writing and spelling. The tasks stayed divided into two sensory modalities: visual and auditory. When the tasks were presented visually, the children were told to read individual words without hearing the phrase while when presented audibly, the children heard the words but did not see them (Burman, Douglas, Bitan & Booth, 2008).

Taking the results that they found, the researchers used a sophisticated statistical model to account for the differences in age, gender, linguistic judgment, the method the words were presented and the semantic judgment. The researchers concluded that girls had a significant activation of areas of the brain that are associated with language processing than boys. Furthermore, the language tasks also made areas of the brain linked with intellectual thinking through language to fire up in girls. The performance of girls in the tests was directly related to the amount of activation of the language areas in their brains (Burman, Douglas, Bitan & Booth, 2008).

However, in boys, their performance in the visual tests was directly linked with how much their visible part of their brains was stimulated. Similarly, in the auditory tests, the boys' performance was directly connected to the amount of stimulation in their parts of the brain that controlled auditory stimuli.

In yet another study, researchers sought out to find if there was a correlation between the sex of a child, the family's socioeconomic status and how they affected the ability of a child's language development. The researchers noted that many people pointed out these reasons for a child's language development, but there were no researches that had been done in this field (Mensah, Fiona & Kierman 2010).

They conducted research where they evaluated a group of preschool children of different genders that were coming from families with different socioeconomic statuses. They did tests to see how the children acquired frequent phonological alternation in French. They found out that in children in families with low socioeconomic conditions, there was a difference in the performance of the two genders. Children from families with high socioeconomic statuses did not display any variation in the way the two genders performed in the tests. Boys from families with low socioeconomic conditions had the weakest performance followed by girls from families with the same socioeconomic statuses. The children from families with a high socioeconomic status topped in the performance. What is even more interesting is that both boys and girls from families with high socioeconomic statuses had the same performance. This shows how growing up in families with a significantly low socioeconomic status can hinder a child's ability to process language (Mensah, Fiona & Kierman 2010).

The research also conducted a study on grown women and men who were learning a language together as a group. The women in the group were more likely to speak up and give their opinions on the foreign language without fear of making a mistake. Men, on the other hand, were more reserved and kept mostly to themselves and when they spoke in the foreign language, they were very cautious not to make a mistake. This resulted in a majority of the men not being able to grasp the foreign language like the women did. The resultant performance was that women did better than the men (Mensah, Judith, Glieke & Burg, 2006).

Another research that was done by Devin M. Demaske for the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, the researched researched the different one gender schools and compared their performance to schools with both genders. The researcher's goal was to find out if there was a difference in the way the two genders perceived information and if this would be reflected in their performance. The researcher found that there was a difference in the way boys learned and the way girls learned. The researcher concluded that single-gender schools might be beneficial to the students in some cases. The researcher was also quick to note that he could not make concrete conclusions because he lacked enough history of the schools' performance and other variables that were involved. Furthermore, he notes that single-gender schools have different setting compared to a school with both genders. These factors include more professional developed teachers and more robust community support (Demaske 2010).


As shown in the research that was done above, boys have a more sensible approach to understanding and processing language. This means that boys would perform better if they are given tests in the same way that they received the information. For example, male students who received lectures would perform better if the exams of these lectures were done orally. Similarly, they would perform better in written exams if they learned by reading. An explanation for this is that boys might have some bottleneck in their neural brain activity which holds up visual or auditory information from getting to the language processing areas of the brain. Another explanation for this is that boys construct visual and auditory links in such a way that seeing or hearing a word brings back the meaning of the word. Researchers agree that even though the second explanation for this might present boys with a disadvantage when it comes to processing abstract language, this was as a result of evolutionary need. During the times of primitive men, survival was paramount. There was a need to quickly identify sounds and sights that were associated with danger and promptly escape.

Girls, on the other hand, process language abstractly. This means that girls would be able to perform better in exams whether or not the reviews are presented in the same way that they learned. This may seem like girls have an unfair advantage over boys when taking tests. This has been one of the main points of concern of people advocating for classes and teaching of the different genders to be done separately. This might seem like the solution but if we keep dividing boys and girls based on the way that they perceive information, how will they ever hope to work together? Furthermore, boys will feel as if they are intellectually weaker to girls. Instead of this focus should be put on how to improve teaching in class with both genders to cater to the needs of all the sexes.

In the second research, the researchers show us a correlation between the language skills that a child has and the socioeconomic status of the family he or she is from. In families with high socioeconomic status, there was no difference in the language skills that the children from either gender displayed. The children from families with low socioeconomic statuses performed poorly compared to the other children. However, boys from families with low socioeconomic statuses performed the poorest of an entire lot of children that were being studied. When children grow up in a family with a better socioeconomic background, they tend to get exposed to more opportunities to hone their language skills. This might have been the reason why despite the boys having a sensory understanding of language, they were able to perform better than girls from families with low socioeconomic statuses and girls from the same socioeconomic status as them.

However, despite the results of the two pieces of research, there are biases that the investigations did not take account of. For example, one preference that they might have overlooked is the different locations from which the children came from. Children from different parts of the country have different perception and understanding of language. In the second research, the children are tested on the frequency that they acquired phonetical alterations in French. Some children might have been exposed to French while they were younger and as a result, they will provide biased results.

The sector that these researches have the most impact on is the education sector. Children are generally taught together and expected to perform well not considering their abilities or lack thereof. These researches have shown that there is a difference in the brains of boys and girls and the way that they process language. Girls have generally been known to perform better than boys in languages. However, these researchers may provide a different explanation to these results. They propose that girls perform better because their brains are better suited to process language than the minds of boys. This shows the need to grade boys and girls differently as they have different capabilities of processing language. However, research conducted showed there is no relationship between genders and language skills as boys and girls from families with good socioeconomic status, performed in the same way. The results from these researches are not conclusive and more research should be conducted if the differences in the brains of boys and girls are to be taken seriously and the results and recommendations are implemented to the education sector.


From the research articles done above, there is a clear difference in the way boys and girls perceive and understand language. Boys tend to understand a language in a sensible way while girls understand a language abstractly. This is because of the differences in the way the brains of both boys and girls are structures. This tends to make women and girls perform better in languages that boys and men. However, there are research results that show when children of both genders who grow up in families with high socioeconomic status, they perform equally high in languages. These researches contradict each other. Another study concludes that it is the attitude of men avoiding failure that makes them not able to learn foreign languages like women. This shows that there is a need to do further research on the subject if there is any hope of implementing the research recommendations to our day to day lives. The hypothesis is therefore proven to be true.


Burman, Douglas D., Tali Bitan, and James R. Booth. "Sex Differences in Neural Processing of Language among Children." Neuropsychologia 46.5 (2008): 1349-1362. Neuropsychologia. Web.

Eriksson, Marten et al. "Differences between Girls and Boys in Emerging Language Skills: E...

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