Gendered Language Word Perception: On the Primary Language Acquisition in Los Angeles Adolescents

Lily Eun, Maya Gibson-Ott, Desirae Barrios, Katherine Sandoval 

The Theory of Language Relativity suggests that an individual’s primary language shapes their perceptions and worldviews. Our research dives into how a gendered language like Spanish can affect object perception. The research focused on Spanish-speaking university students in Southern California; through surveys and interviews, the research illustrates how native Spanish speakers will assign gender to English words. Our research also included monolingual English-speaking participants as ‘control’ participants and native English speakers who were also bilingual in Spanish; this allowed our researchers to examine the patterns between bilingual and monolingual participants. Our findings illustrate that native Spanish speakers will assign genders to English words based on their Spanish equivalents; these findings indicate that primary languages have a strong linguistic influence on an individual’s perception regardless of their environment’s language. Our results highlight the importance bilingual assessments could have in the educational field. Accurately gauging students’ true intellect and advocating for inclusive language practices in fundamental education will be beneficial for educators to better provide the necessary resources to aid in a bilingual child’s learning. Our study highlights the implications of cross-cultural communication and the necessity of a change of assessment to be more linguistically sensitive for bilingual students.

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