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Research at the University of Haifa: speakers of two languages ​​manage to learn a third language more easily

It was also found out in the study: Russian speakers as a mother tongue had a better command of Hebrew compared to Hebrew speakers as a mother tongue. "Learning and preserving one's mother tongue does not come at the expense of learning another language, but rather the exact opposite: Russian only strengthens Hebrew and mastery of these two languages ​​improves skill and mastery of English," the researchers noted.

rosetta stone
rosetta stone

English courses for beginners or other foreign language courses for young people are an issue that is becoming very common, also in Israel. Besides basic preparation courses for learning English which are the most common - English courses for beginners, various advanced courses are also offered, designed for people who require English or another language in their daily routine. But is it possible to spare your child the need for this? Is it possible to waive courses and prepare it ahead of time for a certain language? New research findings show that it is. Previous findings suggest that exposure to a language such as English at an early stage may help the child dramatically later on and thus save him trouble and resources later on. In addition to this, a new study now brings up another fascinating finding that speakers of two languages ​​manage to learn a third language more easily, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa led by Professor Salim Abu-Rabia and Ekaterina Snitsky from the Department of Special Education.

The research sought to test the extent of the contribution of knowing two languages ​​to learning a third language. The researchers hypothesized that knowing two languages, one of which is Russian and the other Hebrew, helps to demonstrate a better mastery in studying English as a third language, compared to their students mastering one language, Hebrew.

Two groups selected from a representative sample of 40th grade boys and girls in Israel who are learning English as a foreign language participated in the study. In the first group there were 42 students, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, whose mother tongue is Russian and Hebrew is their second language. The second group included XNUMX students who speak only Hebrew as their mother tongue, who learn English as a second language as part of their school studies.

The experiment included two types of meetings: a group meeting and a meeting with each child individually. In the group meeting, reading strategy tests were conducted, familiarization tests with the rules of the writing systems of each language and personal questionnaires were handed out. As part of the personal meetings with the students, the researchers gave the tests in Hebrew and English to the group of Hebrew language speakers only, and the exact same tests only with the addition of the Russian language, also to the group of native Russian speakers. The researchers compared and cross-referenced the test results of the first personal meeting with the results of the second personal meeting.

The findings show that among the students whose mother tongue was Russian, a better level of control was found not only in the acquired language, English, but also in Hebrew by a much higher percentage (the average total gap of all tests reaches more than 13%). In addition to that, in certain tests the gap in mastery of the English language was even higher in favor of the Russian speakers: in the spelling task the gap was over 20%, in orthographic knowledge tests the gap was 22% and in morphological knowledge tests the gap rose to 35%. In the intelligence test (Raven) the gap was more than 7% in favor of native Russian speakers. According to the researchers, this finding indicates that the more languages ​​we learn, the more intelligent we become.

They also added that from the fact that native Russian speakers mastered Hebrew better than native Hebrew speakers, it can be concluded that learning and preserving one's native language does not come at the expense of learning another language - Hebrew - but rather the exact opposite: Russian only strengthens Hebrew and mastering these two languages ​​improves The skill and mastery of the third language. Course English studies for beginners Or a course in Russian or Hebrew, they will no longer need it!

"Knowing several languages ​​improves mastery of native languages. This is because languages ​​reinforce each other, and the skills become stronger in the phonological, morphological, and syntactic aspects. These skills are the necessary foundation for the ability to acquire reading. The findings of this study also show that the transfer of skills from language to language is an important cognitive function that makes the learning process easier for us and clearly shows that trilingual education is better if it is done from a young age and with well-understood real experiences", concluded Prof. Abu-Rabia.

31 תגובות

  1. Hello, I'm a child from the research work in robotics at the Alon division in Ra'anana and we are looking for learning difficulties in learning a language so that we can create a product that will solve this challenge. We ask for your advice.
    Thank you very much, waiting for the answer, the children of robotics.

  2. Umm.. the researchers didn't consider maybe another, slightly different explanation that says maybe the immigrants from Russia are more diligent and diligent in their studies, or at the very least less breezy than English lessons?.. I don't want someone to tell me I'm a simple racist. I know that the parents (of the immigrants) usually education is a place First, a child who brings home a score of less than 80 will receive a moral sermon for not understanding how important it is to study well and of course some kind of punishment.

  3. made by speakers of Semitic languages, more implied here, that the Israelis are less intelligent than the gentiles in the land, of course this is absurd, most of the immigrants and Arabs are inferior in their level of root Hebrew to the average Israeli, even mastery of the letters AHUI, not to mention the guttural consonants "Ha-Ra" , they lack.

  4. You don't sound racist, you are a low-brow Neanderthal, I know many Russians whose English is lousy and Ethiopians who speak English better than them, the only thing that is increased in people of your type is your brazenness and fierceness, in addition to your brainwashing culture

  5. I don't want to sound racist, but there is an alternative explanation for the results of the study: it may be that immigrants from the former Soviet Union have better genes than Israelis, whose parents immigrated from countries that were not part of the former Soviet Union, which allowed a better brain to develop.

  6. But not all is well:
    At the end of this week, an article about stutterers was published in Mossaf Haaretz.
    A study conducted in the Swiss army to identify risk factors for stuttering was cited there.
    Bilingualism was found to be one of those risk factors.

  7. Friends:
    I will not continue this stupid argument.
    The natives of the country are mostly of Russian origin.
    As you have been shown, there are additional confirmations for the claims made by the authors of the article.
    This is a journalistic article and for some reason you are guessing (in my opinion, showing disdain that lacks any logic) that the researchers did not deal with what is not mentioned, even though with the same degree of confirmation and with much more logic you could assume that they actually addressed the matter.
    I see no need to continue such a fruitless debate.

  8. Michael - these are not two random groups, but two groups with distinctly different ethnic characteristics (the Russian immigrants and the natives of Israel). It turns out, for example, that you will find a gap of 7 percent or more even in knowing how to play and in chess level! The difference is characterized by higher intelligence, and better Hebrew and English, detached from bilingualism.
    Another thing that is very influential is the motivation to learn Hebrew of a new immigrant, in order to integrate into the local population.
    Anton - there is an advantage for bilinguals in various aspects (and there are also disadvantages, for example greater forgetfulness in old age!), but there is (as far as I know) no advantage for bilinguals in the mother tongue of the non-bilingual group! For example (in response to Michael) - apart from the members of the Knesset, who are certainly not a representative group, is the Arab-Israeli public more eloquent than the Jewish-Israeli public in Hebrew? wonder Also, I did not do any research on the subject, but from my knowledge of native Russian speakers, I did not find them to be better at Hebrew.
    Try to do some research - are native Yiddish speakers who also know Hebrew better in the English (or Hebrew) tests, and argue how critical a cultural influence is (I'm talking of course about the ultra-chassidic stream...)

  9. Damn, a little late..
    For comparison, Ashkenazi Jews receive high IQ scores on average of approximately one full standard deviation (!) (between 12-15 points!) So there is probably a big difference sometimes between populations
    By the way, the differences are between Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jews, and not between all Jewish populations, which means that there is a big difference within the Jews themselves.
    There are studies by Hernstein and Marie that show such differences not only between Jews and non-Jews.. and these are not small differences at all, (even if the opinions differ, such differences must still be neutralized in order to verify the results of the study..)
    And so, why reject a substantive comment on the article?

  10. Are 82 students enough to determine that the claim is true?

    In addition, several comments here pointed to other elements that may affect the result (Ulysses, here Ada)

  11. Dear Friends,
    Despite the articles that talk about the merits of bilingualism in the development of the brain, as suggested in Anton's answer #18 - there is a problem with the current research.
    To generalize about all 2+1 languages ​​- I would suggest conducting a parallel study, (not in Israel) in which 2+1 completely different languages ​​participate. For example: German + Swedish and a third language: Turkish.
    The results presented in the Haifa University study may only be relevant to Israel.

  12. Eric:
    The fact that the languages ​​were not acquired in an orderly manner completely negates the possibility that her study had an effect on "learning habits".
    A child who plays with his friends and learns words during the game does not sit aside with a dictionary and write down words for him to find out their meaning later.
    A huge part of the old population in Israel is of Russian origin.
    A difference of 7 IQ points on average is a huge difference (but really!) and there is no way it would be obtained from two random groups of Jews.
    There is no reason to sacrifice the truth on the altar of the desire to slaughter political correctness - sometimes the truth is also political correctness.

  13. By the way.. you wrote that there is too little chance for there to be a gap of so many IQ points between 2 random groups, but they are not random since one group has a different ethnic and probably also cultural origin.. and therefore Avraham was right.. it is possible that the intelligence It is a variable related to origin and environment, and which explains the better ability to absorb languages.

  14. To God
    According to the way I understood Ulysses' words, the fact that the two languages ​​were not acquired in an organized framework, does not answer the fact that it is possible that learning habits acquired at home, in general, affect the way an individual receives the language. An intelligent child will read more in both languages ​​and use a larger vocabulary, and this can be a byproduct of education for excellence.
    What else could be a bias from the very fact that Russian and Hebrew speakers are usually children of a Russian family, theoretically it could also be that Russians have a better language absorption.. (politically correct or not, this bias needs to be eliminated in order to determine..)

  15. This study proves another claim, according to which children should be educated from the age of zero and not throw Yahavno on the education system. Instead of letting the child be idle or staring at the children's channel on the TV, he should be taught a second language, reading, playing music, etc., preferably one hour before.

    When I see how Israeli parents raise their children, I am struck with fear. Instead of providing them with quality literature, they buy thin but expensive booklets with rhymes at the level of mandatory kindergarten. Instead of playing classical music for them, the brains of the little ones are dumbed down with confused songs. Instead of sending the son or daughter to learn to play the piano, they are taught darbuka.

    So this free and happy kid has fun until the end of high school, and then finds himself with minimal skills.

  16. Abraham

    You wrote: "a number of times" you should write: "a number of times" or "a few times".

  17. All in all, there is a journalistic article about a study here, but for some reason, most of the commenters think that if the article does not refer to a certain topic, it is a sign that this topic was not handled correctly.
    I think the approach should be the opposite.

  18. Abraham:
    As for how to learn the language - seriously!
    Even if you received an accelerated course in Hebrew - it is clear that the superior mastery of the language is not a result of it.
    It is clear that contrary to your words - the students did not learn "at school" anything that is not taught at school.

  19. By the way - the research, of course, is rare.
    I don't know if anyone will repeat it, but there is no principled prevention and you are welcome to repeat it.
    Since the differences identified are very large, it can be argued that the original study already includes a repetition that such differences are significant even in groups of twenty.

  20. Abraham:
    Your approach is unfair for several reasons:
    1. You do not know if additional background checks were conducted on the students.
    2. If indeed intelligence is a dependent variable, neutralization will actually result in the taking of students who were naturally less intelligent
    3. The chance that two random groups of about 40 students will naturally differ by 7 IQ points is zero.
    4. The Arab members of the Knesset are really more fluent in Hebrew than the Israelis
    5. Language mastery is not just a result of intelligence

  21. A. In order for research results to be valid, it is necessary to neutralize variables that are not the research variables and that may affect the research assumption (which in this case is: "Knowing two languages ​​positively affects the ability to learn a third language")
    The authors of the study found another factor (the level of intelligence) that was different between the groups and for the research premise to be valid they had to neutralize this factor.
    In this case, the authors of the study (Professor Rabia and Oktrina Snitsky) turned the additional factor into a dependent variable and drew a non-committal conclusion.

    B. Every study needs to be "exclusive" in order to be able to repeat it and check the results independently and independently.
    Therefore it is desirable to know exactly how the research was conducted in general and the sample in particular.
    I read the article several times and did not find any mention by the authors of the study of the fact that the "Russian" group learned the Hebrew language on the street and not in another place (e.g. a school)
    Each study must be examined critically and fairly without omitting or adding details that were not there.

  22. Ulysses:
    Your conclusion is not so compatible with the fact that these children did not learn Hebrew and Russian in an organized setting (which allows for more investment) but at home and on the street, where the language is absorbed naturally and no one makes a special investment.

  23. A problematic study, because it does not take into account a very important component - the cultural component. Russians by nature (or more precisely by nature of their culture) strive for excellence and strive for perfection. They have a much higher motivation to acquire an education than a child who comes from an old Israeli family. It would have been more correct to take toddlers, who are at the critical stage of acquiring language skills but before they are affected by their environmental elements.

  24. And perhaps this in general contributes to the explanation of the favorable standing out of ethnic minorities (who have an additional language) among the population where they live, including the advantage of the Jews over other peoples.
    It may also be that the Americans and the English need to draw operative conclusions from this, but to go that far, you need to check which components of intelligence have improved.

  25. By the way - this also explains why the Arab Knesset members are so much more eloquent (in Hebrew) than most of our Knesset members.

  26. It sounds extremely forced.
    They took dozens of students just like that and by chance two groups came out whose natural intelligence is so different?
    The probability of this is zero (I intentionally emphasized natural intelligence because the research shows that there is also acquired intelligence and this was obviously different because of language studies).

  27. The difference between the groups in the intelligence tests can explain both the difference in the level of English and the difference in the level of Hebrew.

    In order to reach valid results, the researchers had to make sure that the two groups have the same level of intelligence and have the same level in the English language and then test their ability to learn another language.

  28. Nissan:
    But it is written that Russian speakers had a better command of Hebrew as well! Note again: those whose mother tongue is Russian mastered Hebrew better than those whose mother tongue is Hebrew!
    It is also written that the results of the intelligence test improved.

    It seems to me that the authors of the study did not jump to conclusions.

  29. It could be that knowing Russian makes learning English easier, and not necessarily knowing two languages ​​at all.
    This is a minimal test I would expect to see. What is the level of control of those who only knew Russian?
    Why jump to conclusions and say it's too easy to learn a third language? Maybe it's easier to learn a similar language? Then research what similar languages ​​are.

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