Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

How specific is second language-learning ability? A twin study

“Learning a second language is crucially important in an increasingly global society, yet surprisingly little is known about why individuals differ so substantially in second language (SL) achievement. We used the twin design to assess the nature, nurture and mediators of individual differences in SL achievement.

All SL measures showed substantial heritability, although heritability was nonsignificantly lower for German (36%) than the other languages (53–62%). Multivariate genetic analyses indicated that a third of genetic influence in SL is shared with intelligence, a third with English independent of intelligence and a further third is unique to SL.”

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Languages do matter!

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