The Threshold Hypothesis Applied to Three Languages in Contact at School.
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This study investigated whether the threshold level hypothesis (Cummins, 1976, 1979) could be applied to a three language in contact school situation. The threshold level hypothesis states that a threshold level of linguistic competence must be attained so that the beneficial cognitive effects of bilingualism comes to light. The learning of three languages at school is becoming more common throughout the world, and one of these three languages in contact school situations occurs in the Basque Country, where Basque and Spanish are the official languages, and English is taught as a foreign language. The Basque Country sample consisted of 252 students, 126 of whom were fifth graders (aged 10 and 11) in their second year of learning English in school and 126 of whom were eighth graders (13 and 14 years old) in their third year of learning English in school. The participants completed Basque, English, and Spanish tests, as well as a background questionnaire and Raven's Progressive Matrices test. The dependant variable was measured via a test of metalinguistic abilities, The threshold hypothesis could be applied either by establishing a third threshold or by maintaining the two original ones. The results show that the maintenance of the original parameters on which the threshold hypothesis is based was more adequate than the proposal of establishing three thresholds. (Contains 6 tables, 4 figures, and 48 references.) (SLD)