Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 357–364 | Cite as

Verbal Abilities in Low and Highly Proficient Bilinguals

  • Georgia Andreou
  • Anargyros Karapetsas


The study investigated native language verbal skills among low and highly proficient bilinguals, using the WISC III verbal subtests. Highly proficient bilinguals showed a superiority for almost all verbal subtests. This finding lends support to Threshold Theory which maintains that bilinguals need to achieve high levels of linguistic proficiency before bilingualism can promote cognitive development. Our study also shows that verbal ability underlying proficiency in the native language can be generalized to a foreign language, revealing a causal connection between native and foreign language learning.

bilingualism verbal abilities 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bialystok, E. (1991). Language Processing in Bilingual Children. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Carroll, F. W. (1980). Neurolinguistic processing of a second language: Experimental evidence. In K. C. Diller (Ed.), Research in second language acquisition (pp. 81–86). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.Google Scholar
  3. Cummins, J. (1976). The influence of bilingualism on cognitive growth: A synthesis of research findings and explanatory hypotheses. Working Papers on Bilingualism, 9,1–14.Google Scholar
  4. Diaz, R. M. (1985). Bilingual cognitive development: Addressing three gaps in current research. Child Development, 56,1376–1378.Google Scholar
  5. Ganschow, L., & Sparks, R. (1991). A screening instrument for the identification of foreign language learning problems. Foreign Language Annals, 24,383–398.Google Scholar
  6. Ganschow, L., & Sparks, R. (1995). Effects of direct instruction in Spanish phonology on the native language skills and foreign language aptitude of at risk foreign language learners. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28,107–120.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Green, A. (1986). A time-sharing cross-sectional study in monolinguals and bilinguals at different levels of second language acquisition. Brain and Cognition, 5,477–499.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Hakuta, K., Friedman, B. M., & Diaz, R. M. (1987). Bilingualism and cognitive development: Three perspectives. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Advances in Applied Psycholinguistics: Reading, Writing and Language Learning, Vol II. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hamers, F. J., & Blanc, H. M. (1989). Bilinguality and cognitive development. In J. F. Hamers & H. M. Blanc (Eds.), Bilinguality and Bilingualism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Karapetsas, A., & Andreou. G. (1999). Cognitive development of fluent and nonfluent bilingual speakers assessed with tachistoscopic techniques. Psychological Reports, 84,697–700.Google Scholar
  11. Karapetsas, A., & Andreou, G. (2001). Visual field asymmetries for rhyme and semantic tasks. Brain and Language, 78,53–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Koda, K. (1992). The effects of lower level processing skills on foreign language reading performance: Implications for instruction. Modern Language Journal, 76, 502–512.Google Scholar
  13. Lefebvre, R. C. (1984). A psychological consultation programme for learning disabled adults. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25,361–362.Google Scholar
  14. Lezak, D. M. (1995). Neuropsychological Assessment, (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ricciardelli, A. L. (1992). Bilingualism and cognitive development in relation to Threshold Theory. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 21,301–316.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Roberts, M. P. (1997). Semantic organisation, strategy use and productivity in bilingual semantic verbal stimuli. Brain and Language, 59,412–449.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Sparks, R., & Ganschow, L. (1991). Foreign language learning difficulties: Affective or native language aptitude differences? Modern Language Journal, 75,3–16.Google Scholar
  18. Sparks, R., & Ganschow, L. (1993). Searching for the cognitive locus of foreign language learning problems: Linking first and second language learning. Modern Language Journal, 77,289–302.Google Scholar
  19. Sparks, R., Ganschow, L., & Pohlman, J. (1989). Linguistic coding deficits in foreign language learners. Annals of Dyslexia, 39,179–195.Google Scholar
  20. Stuss, T. D., Alexander, P. M., Hamer, L., Palumbo, C., Dempster, R., Binns, M., Levine, B., & Izukawa, D. (1998). The effects of focal anterior and posterior brain lesions on verbal fluency. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 4,265–278.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Tao, L., & Healy, F. A. (1996). Cognitive strategies in discourse processing: A comparison of Chinese and English speakers. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 25,597–616.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Neurolinguistics and NeuropsychologyUniversity of ThessalyLarissaGreece

Personalised recommendations