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Encyclopedia of Bilingual Education

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Encyclopedia of Bilingual Education

Josué M. González

Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: July 01, 2008 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412963985 | Print ISBN: 9781412937207 | Online ISBN: 9781412963985 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Threshold Hypothesis

Kara T. McAlister

The threshold hypothesis was originally introduced by James Cummins in 1976 and Pertti Toukomaa and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas in 1977 as a theoretical model for explaining the effects of bilingualism on academic success in children, and it was later popularized by Cummins's further work in the United States. It has been shown that bilingualism has numerous positive cognitive effects for bilingual individuals, although these effects do not always translate into school success. The threshold hypothesis suggests that the effects of bilingualism are actually mediated by the degree of age-appropriate competence in each language, rather than the state of being bilingual. In practical terms, this suggests that children who are developmentally competent in both languages, often termed balanced bilinguals, would experience positive cognitive advantages of being bilingual, whereas children who are developmentally competent in only one of their two languages, often termed dominant bilinguals, would experience neither positive nor negative effects. limited ...

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