Threshold hypothesis

The threshold hypothesis is a hypothesis concerning second language acquisition set forth in a study by Cummins (1976[1]) that stated that a minimum threshold in language proficiency must be passed before a second-language speaker can reap any benefits from language. It also states that, in order to gain proficiency in a second language, the learner must also have passed a certain and age appropriate level of competence in his or her first language.[2]


  1. Cummins J. (1976). The influence of bilingualism on cognitive growth: a synthesis of research findings and explanatory hypotheses. Work. Pap. Biling. 9, 1–43 :
  2. Charlotte Franson (2 May 2009). "Bilingual Language Acquisition". National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC): ITTSEAL website. National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
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