Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Three experiments investigated the role of a speci®c language in human representations of number. Russian±English bilingual college students were taught new numerical operations (Experiment 1), new arithmetic equations (Experiments 1 and 2), or new geographical or historical facts involving numerical or non-numerical information (Experiment 3). After learning a set of items in each of their two languages, subjects were tested for knowledge of those items, and new items, in both languages. In all the studies, subjects retrieved information about exact numbers more effectively in the language of training, and they solved trained problems more effectively than untrained problems. In contrast, subjects retrieved information about approximate numbers and non-numerical facts with equal ef®ciency in their two languages, and their training on approximate number facts generalized to new facts of the same type. These ®ndings suggest that a speci®c, natural language contributes to the representation of large, exact numbers but not to the approximate number representations that humans share with other mammals. Language appears to play a role in learning about exact numbers in a variety of contexts, a ®nding with implications for practice in bilingual education. The ®ndings prompt more general speculations about the role of language in the development of speci®cally human cognitive abilities. q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.|
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