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.
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.