handedness and language learning

It’s been a while since I did a language-related post, and if I’m being honest this may be one of my last! I’ll be finished my degree in May, which means no more languages pour moi (no pun intended). I can’t say I’m upset…

For my final year dissertation, I did research on the link between handedness and language learning. I effectively forced people to be (somewhat) ambidextrous for two weeks, and then explored whether or not this had an impact on their ability to require new, foreign vocabulary.

Thus far, the link between handedness and language learning hasn’t been broadly researched; this is a bit of a double-edged sword as it meant that I had a unique topic to investigate, but that finding previous studies upon which I could base my research was challenging.

In spite of this – and in spite of my small sample size – there was a definite link between ambidexterity and more successful language learning. The small sample size is obviously something to be wary of, but all in all the results of the study were promising!

So, next time you’re trying to learn a language, try doing something with your non-dominant hand for five minutes each day for a period of time; it could be something as simple as brushing your teeth or writing your name. The idea is that the ‘forced ambidexterity’ will result in higher levels of interhemispherical activity in the brain, thus bringing about more successful language learning. Sounds a bit wishy-washy, but the theory seems to hold up.

Do you have any unusual language-learning methods? Have you ever had to learn a language in a hurry? Do leave a comment down below!

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

Author: The Electric Oracle

Hello! My name is Clodagh, and I run 'The Electric Oracle'. You can read a little more about me on - you guessed it - the 'about' section of my page.

7 thoughts on “handedness and language learning”

  1. Just curious, Clodagh – I’ve always been interested in the relationship between left-handedness (left alone!) and cognitive functions, and have a question or two: Did you have a control group who received equivalent amounts of attention for the same time period but no ambidextrous work? And when you say “more successful,” I’m curious about the group against whom you measured your success — was it the same people before and after your intervention? Also what is meant by “require” new, foreign vocabulary? BTW, do you have to defend this dissertation at any point? Did you have to do statistic analysis? 🙃

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    1. Hi Ellen! To answer your questions: yes, I had a control group who received the same amount of attention but were not exposed to the stimulant (ie ambidextrous work), I meant ‘acquire’ so ‘require’ was a typo, and I will have to defend my dissertation in a viva voce next month! I hope that helps 🙂

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