The Left Side of the Brain is for Languages

By Dr. Robert Wallace

May 13, 2016 4 min read

DR. WALLACE: I'm South Korean and living in the U.S. with an American family and they treat me like I was their own son. I'm in the 11th grade and get very good grades, but I'm only average in mathematics. I need some intelligent advice, please.

My South Korean father told me that the left side of my brain is for languages while the right side is for mathematics. I can speak, read and write in four languages besides Korean (English, Spanish, French and Chinese), but I have trouble with mathematics. My father also told me that the left side of my brain is highly developed while the right side is a little underdeveloped, but will eventually develop equally with my left side.

I truly hope my father is correct because when I was young I always received high marks in mathematics, but now I only get C's instead of A's. I've heard that if you are not good in mathematics you cannot go to an American university and this makes me sad and worried. What can I do? I want to make my parents proud of me. — Kurt, Tampa, Fla.

KURT: Welcome to America! I'm sure you will do well in all of your classes and that your parents will be very proud of you.

Some students have a mental block about mathematics even though they are intelligent and capable of doing well in other subjects. Have your American family meet with your counselor to discuss what you need to accomplish to succeed in mathematics.

Something tells me the right side of your brain is every bit as effective as the left side. In mathematics, it is very important not to fall behind, so ask a lot of questions and if you need additional help, your teacher will find time to assist you.

Write to me in a few weeks and tell me about your schedule and how you are doing. I'm positive that you will be doing well.

And don't worry about being unable to get into an American university! I'm sure someone with your command of languages, intelligence and determination would have no trouble getting into most schools, if you decide you want to continue your schooling in this country.


DR. WALLACE: All I ever hear from my parents is that today's teens are wild and out of control. They usually start this type of conversation by saying, "When I was your age, we..." Are today's teens as bad as everybody thinks? — Nameless, Worland, Wyo.

NAMELESS: When reminiscing about days gone by, many adults remember only what they want to remember. I honestly believe today's teens generally are more intelligent, wise and better able to cope with a complex world than the teens of my generation.

I'm fortunate to be able to travel the United States and Canada and to talk with today's youth. I must say, I'm totally impressed and I believe the future is in good hands!

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District

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