Analysing Language Exposure and its Consequences on Bilingual Development in Dutch–English-Speaking Children in Australia
Keywords:bilingualism, Language acquisition, Dutch/English, Language loss, bilingual children
The purpose of this study was to determine if there are differences in overall language ability and vocabulary of either Australian or overseas born bilingual Dutch–English children and the possible parental influence on these children’s language development. The participants were 86 children aged 4–12 years living in Australia and either born there or overseas in the Netherlands. Standardized language assessments were used to assess children’s expressive and receptive language skills in Dutch and English. Children born in Australia scored significantly higher on English language assessments and lower on the Dutch language assessments. When children’s parents frequently spoke Dutch with their children, they had significantly better Dutch skills, and when parents spoke primarily English at home, their children had better English skills. Based on outcomes on the questionnaires, multivariate logistic regression identified that storytelling and reading books in the heritage language contributed significantly to children’s Dutch language development). The study could not identify factors that contribute to English language development in Dutch children in Australia. However, for the Dutch language, frequent storytelling and reading books in Dutch are both important factors for development of the native language.
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