Gender and Behaviour

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Perceived societal expectations of boys and girls on the learning of English as a second language and how they affect their performance

BN Madu


This paper reports on an investigation into perceived societal expectations of boys and girls in the learning of English as a second language and how they may affect their performance in English tests and examinations. One hundred and twenty eight (64 female and 64 male) pupils in Grades 8 to 11 from four representative schools in the Polokwane Municipality of the Limpopo Province (South Africa) participated in the study. A quantitative ethnographic design (comprising questionnaires, and documentary analysis) was used to collect the data. 

A t-test was used to establish whether there might be significant differences between the mean scores of boys and girls on both the questionnaire data and test and examination results. Linear Regression Analysis was used to identify whether societal expectations significantly contribute to differential performances between female and male pupils (e.g., pupil's scores on English tests/examinations) and the level at which (in percentage) the factor contributed to the performance. The results showed more societal expectations on girls than on boys; and when all the pupils are put together, more societal pressure lead to worse performance in English language. It is therefore suggested that inspiration can be drawn from the findings in policy formulation regarding unisex versus single-sex schools, language instruction, especially attention given to undue societal pressure on girls with respect to the learning of English as a second language and approaches used in dealing with both sexes in second language classrooms.
AJOL African Journals Online