No evidence of a positive effect of learning Chinese language as an L2 on spatial ability

Likhanov, Maxim; Bogdanova, Olga; Alenina, Evgenia; Kolienko, Tatiana and Kovas, Yulia. 2023. No evidence of a positive effect of learning Chinese language as an L2 on spatial ability. Scientific Reports, 13, 1262. ISSN 2045-2322 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Spatial ability (SA) was shown to be a robust predictor of success in various educational contexts, including STEM. Thus, ways to improve SA are of interest to educational psychology. There is some evidence that SA might be improved via learning character-based language, e.g. Chinese as a second language (CSL), however, the existing research is quite limited. The study aims to investigate an effect of CSL learning on SA in schoolchildren from Year 2 to Year 7. Current study employs a sample of Russian schoolchildren (N = 283), who learnt: English only, English and Spanish; or English and Chinese. Participants completed Raven’s progressive matrices and Mental rotation task at the age of 8 and again at the age of 14. Our data showed negligible group differences in the initial SA level at Year 2 (before learning second language). Similar negligible differences were found at Year 7. Regression analysis showed that SA was predicted by intelligence (Raven’s) and gender but not language learnt at both ages. This pattern of results indicates that learning a Chinese as a second language is unlikely to affect SA. Further research is needed to investigate whether other factors, such as length, intensity and context of learning, moderate this link.

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20 December 2022Accepted
23 January 2023Published Online

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23 Jan 2023 15:33

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23 Jan 2023 15:36

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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