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Bilinguals score higher on intelligence

HAIFA, Israel, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Researchers in Israel associate bilingualism not only with higher intelligence test scores but also with a greater ability to learn a third language.

Researchers led by Salim Abu-Rabia and Ekaterina Sanitsky of the University of Haifa in Israel said they sought to determine whether knowing two languages -- in this study, Russian and Hebrew -- would prove an advantage when learning a third language, English.

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The researchers found students who spoke Russian and Hebrew demonstrated higher proficiency not only in English, but also in Hebrew. In the intelligence test, the gap was more than 7 percent on the side of the Russian speakers.

"Gaining command of a number of languages improves proficiency in native languages," Abu-Rabia said in a statement. "Our study has also shown that applying language skills from one language to another is a critical cognitive function that makes it easier for an individual to go through the learning process successfully. Hence, it is clear that tri-lingual education would be most successful when started at a young age and when it is provided with highly structured and substantive practice."

Abu-Rabia, Sanitsky and colleagues tested sixth graders -- 40 Russian/Hebrew speakers and 42 native Hebrew-speaking students.

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