Analysing Language Exposure and its Consequences on Bilingual Development in Dutch–English-Speaking Children in Australia


  • Marrit Janabi University of Sydney
  • Alison Purcell University of Sydney
  • Elisabeth Duursma University of Wollongong
  • Margot Bochane Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen
  • Hans Bogaardt University of Sydney



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.


Adesope, O. O., Lavin, T., Thompson, T. & Ungerleider, C. (2010). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the cognitive correlates of bilingualism. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 207â??45.

Altarriba, J. & Heredia, R. R. (2018). An introduction to bilingualism: Principles and processes. Abingdon: Routledge.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Census of population and housing: Reflecting Australia â?? stories from the Census, 2016. Cultural diversity in Australia, 2016. Retrieved from[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0~2016~Main%20Features~Cultural%20Diversity%20Article~20

Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing. (2018). Netherlands-born community information summary. Retrieved from

Bialystok, E., Peets, K. F. & Moreno, S. (2014). Producing bilinguals through immersion education: Development of metalinguistic awareness. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(1), 177â??91.

Botelho, M. J. & Rudman, M. K. (2009). Critical multicultural analysis of childrenâ??s literature: Mirrors, windows, and doors. Abingdon: Routledge.

Bowes, J., Grace, R. & Hodge, K. (2012). Children, families and communities: Contexts and consequences. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22(6), 723.

Bronfenbrenner, U. & Morris, P. A. (2007). The bioecological model of human development. Handbook of Child Psychology, 1, 793â??825.

Bus, A. G., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H. & Pellegrini, A. D. (1995). Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. Review of Educational Research, 65(1), 1â??21.

Busse, V., Jungclaus, J., Roden, I., Russo, F. A. & Kreutz, G. (2018). Combining song-and speech-based language teaching: An intervention with recently migrated children. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2386.

Clyne, M. (2005). Australiaâ??s language potential. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Collier, V. P. & Thomas, W. P. (1989). How quickly can immigrants become proficient in school English. Journal of Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, 5(1), 26â??38.

Cummins, J. (1981). Age on arrival and immigrant second language learning in Canada: A reassessment. Applied Linguistics, 2, 132â??49.

Cummins, J. (2001). Bilingual childrenâ??s mother tongue: Why is it important for education. Sprogforum, 7(19), 15â??20.

Dowdall, N., Melendezâ?Torres, G. J., Murray, L., Gardner, F., Hartford, L. & Cooper, P. J. (2020). Shared picture book reading interventions for child language development: A systematic review and metaâ?analysis. Child Development, 91(2), e383â??99.

Duch, H., Fisher, E. M., Ensari, I. & Harrington, A. (2013). Screen time use in children under 3 years old: A systematic review of correlates. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(1), 102.

Dunn, L. M. & Dunn, D. M. (2007). PPVT-4: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, 4th edition. Bloomington, MN: NCS Pearson.

Duursma, E., Augustyn, M. & Zuckerman, B. (2008). Reading aloud to children: The evidence. Archives of disease in childhood, 93(7), 554â??57.

Eisenchlas, S. A. & Schalley, A. C. (2019). Reaching out to migrant and refugee commun­ities to support home language maintenance. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 22(5), 564â??75.

Eisenchlas, S. A., Schalley, A. C. & Guillemin, D. (2013). The importance of literacy in the home language: The view from Australia. Sage Open, 3(4).

Ettekal, A. & Mahoney, J. (2017). Ecological systems theory. In K. Peppler (ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of out-of-school learning (vol. 1, pp. 239â??41). Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Fletcher, K. L. & Reese, E. (2005). Picture book reading with young children: A conceptual framework. Developmental Review, 25(1), 64â??103.

Funk, J. B., Brouwer, J., Curtiss, K. & McBroom, E. (2009). Parents of preschoolers: Expert media recommendations and ratings knowledge, media-effects beliefs, and monitoring practices. Pediatrics, 123(3), 981.

Gass, S. & Selinker, L. (2008). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Abingdon: Routledge.

Genesee, F. (2015). Myths about early childhood bilingualism. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 56(1), 6.

Grøver, V., Rydland, V., Gustafsson, J. E. & Snow, C. E. (2020). Shared book reading in preschool supports bilingual childrenâ??s secondâ?language learning: A clusterâ?randomized trial. Child Development, 91(6), 2192â??2210.

Hammer, C. S., Komaroff, E., Rodriguez, B. L., Lopez, L. M., Scarpino, S. E. & Goldstein, B. (2012). Predicting Spanishâ??English bilingual childrenâ??s language abilities. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55(5), 1251â??64.

Hammer, C. S., Lawrence, F. R. & Miccio, A. W. (2008). Exposure to English before and after entry into head start: Bilingual childrenâ??s receptive language growth in Spanish and English. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(1), 30â??56.

Han, W. J. (2012). Bilingualism and academic achievement. Child Development, 83(1), 300â??321.

Hoff, E., Core, C., Place, S., Rumiche, R., Señor, M. & Parra, M. (2012). Dual language exposure and early bilingual development. Journal of Child Language, 39(1), 1â??27.

Honig, B., Diamond, L., Gutlohn, L. & Cole, C. (2008). Teaching reading sourcebook. Berkeley. CA: Arena Press and Consortium on Reading Excellence.

Howard, S. J. & Melhuish, E. (2017). An early years toolbox for assessing early executive function, language, self-regulation, and social development: Validity, reliability, and preliminary norms. J Psychoeduc Assess, 35(3), 255â??75.

Hutton, J. S., Phelan, K., Horowitz-Kraus, T., Dudley, J., Altaye, M., DeWitt, T. & Holland, S. K. (2017). Story time turbocharger? Child engagement during shared reading and cerebellar activation and connectivity in preschool-age children listening to stories. PloS ONE, 12(5), e0177398.

Ismail, J. (2017). Language exposure and second language learning. The English Teacher, 11.

Jenkins, L., Duursma, E. & Neilsen-Hewett, C. (2019). Perceptions and knowledge of bilingualism and bilingual children among early childhood educators in Australia: Implications for teacher education. In S. Zein & S. Garton (eds), Early language learning and teacher education: International research and practice (pp. 217â??41). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Johnson, J. S. & Newport, E. L. (1989). Critical period effects in second language learning: The influence of maturational state on the acquisition of English as a second language. Cognitive Psychology, 21(1), 60â??99.

Kenji, H. & dâ??Andrea, D. (1992). Some properties of bilingual maintenance and loss in Mexican background high-school students. Applied Linguistics, 13(1), 72â??99.

Kerswill, P. (2006). Migration and language. Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik, 3, 1â??27.

King, K. & Fogle, L. (2006). Bilingual parenting as good parenting: Parentsâ?? perspectives on family language policy for additive bilingualism. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(6), 695â??712.

Kort, W., Schittekatte, M. & Compaan, E. (2008). CELF-4-NL Test voor diagnose en evaluatie van taalproblemen: Handleiding [Test for the evaluation of language problems: Manual]. Amsterdam: Pearson.

Kostoulas, A. & Motsiou, E. (in press). Family language policy in mixed-language families: an exploratory study of online parental discourses. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

Kouritzin, S. G. (1999). Face[t]s of first language loss. Abingdon: Routledge.

Krasileva, K. E., Sanders, S. J. & Bal, V. H. (2017). Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test: Proxy for verbal IQ in genetic studies of autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(4), 1073â??85.

Latham Keh, M. & Stoessel, S. (2017). How first is first? Revisiting language maintenance and shift and the meaning of L1/L2 in three case studies. International Multilingual Research Journal, 11(2), 101â??14.

Lerner, C. & Barr, R. (2015). Screen sense: Setting the record straight--Research-based guidelines for screen use for children under 3 years old. Zero to Three, 35(4), 1â??10.

Mancilla-Martinez, J. & Lesaux, N. K. (2011). Early home language use and later vocabulary development. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 535.

Martín, M. D. (2005). Permanent crisis, tenuous persistence: Foreign languages in Australian universities. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 4(1), 53â??75.

Menyuk, P. & Chesnick, M. (1997). Metalinguistic skills, oral language knowledge, and reading. Topics in Language Disorders, 17(3), 75â??87.

Mol, S. E. & Bus, A. G. (2011). To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. Psychological Bulletin, 137(2), 267.

Murray, A. & Egan, S. M. (2014). Does reading to infants benefit their cognitive develop­ment at 9-months-old? An investigation using a large birth cohort survey. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 30(3), 303â??15.

Paradis, J. (2011). Individual differences in child English second language acquisition: Comparing child-internal and child-external factors. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingual­ism, 1(3), 213â??37.

Piller, I. (2001). Private language planning: The best of both worlds. Estudios de Socio­lingüística, 2(1), 61â??80.

Piller, I. (2016). Monolingual ways of seeing multilingualism. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 11(1), 25â??33.

Piller, I. & Gerber, L. (in press). Family language policy between the bilingual advantage and the monolingual mindset. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

Poe, M. D., Burchinal, M. R. & Roberts, J. E. (2004). Early language and the development of childrenâ??s reading skills. Journal of School Psychology, 42(4), 315â??32.

Portes, A. & Schauffler, R. (1994). Language and the second generation: Bilingualism yesterday and today. International Migration Review, 28(4), 640â??61.

Pot, A., Porkert, J. & Keijzer, M. (2019). The bidirectional in bilingual: Cognitive, social and linguistic effects of and on third-age language learning. Behavioral Sciences, 9(9), 98.

Prevoo, M. J., Malda, M., Mesman, J., Emmen, R. A., Yeniad, N., van Ijzendoorn, M. H. & Linting, M. (2014). Predicting ethnic minority childrenâ??s vocabulary from socioeconomic status, maternal language and home reading input: different pathways for host and ethnic language. Journal of Child Language, 41(5), 963â??84.

Rosen, G. M. (1993). Self-help or hype? Comments on psychologyâ??s failure to advance self-care. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 24(3), 340.

Sandhofer, C. & Uchikoshi, Y. (2013). Cognitive consequences of dual language learning: Cognitive function, language and literacy, science and mathematics, and social-emotional development. In L. Espinosa (ed.), Californiaâ??s best practices for teaching young dual language learners: Research overview papers. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

Saracho, O. N. & Spodek, B. (2007). Oracy: Social facets of language learning. Early Child Development and Care, 177(6â??7), 695â??705.

Schiffman, H. F. (1998). Linguistic culture and language policy. London: Psychology Press.

Semel, E., Wiig, E. & Secord, W. (2003). Clinical evaluation of language fundamentals. 4th. Toronto, Canada: The Psychological Corporation.

Semingson, P., Pole, K. & Tommerdahl, J. (2015). Using bilingual books to enhance literacy around the world. European Scientific Journal, 11(6). Retrieved from

Shin, S. J. (2004). Developing in two languages: Korean American children in America. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Shin, S. J. (2017). Bilingualism in schools and society: Language, identity, and policy, 2nd edition. London: Taylor & Francis.

Shohamy, E. G. (2006). Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. London: Psychology Press.

Spencer, T. D. & Slocum, T. A. (2010). The effect of a narrative intervention on story retelling and personal story generation skills of preschoolers with risk factors and narrative language delays. Journal of Early Intervention, 32(3), 178â??99.

Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tomopoulos, S., Dreyer, B. P., Tamis-Lemonda, C., Flynn, V., Rovira, I., Tineo, W. & Mendelsohn, A. L. (2006). Books, toys, parentâ??child interaction, and development in young Latino children. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 6(2), 72â??8.

Turnbull, M., Hart, D. & Lapkin, S. (2003). Grade 6 French immersion studentsâ?? performance on large-scale reading, writing, and mathematics tests: Building explanations. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 49, 6â??23.

Veltman, C. (1988). Modelling the language shift process of Hispanic immigrants. International Migration Review, 22(4), 545.

Yates, L., Terraschke, A. & Zielinski, B. (2010). Language training and settlement success: Are they related? Sydney: AMEP Research Centre.



How to Cite

Janabi, Marrit, Alison Purcell, Elisabeth Duursma, Margot Bochane, and Hans Bogaardt. 2020. “Analysing Language Exposure and Its Consequences on Bilingual Development in Dutch–English-Speaking Children in Australia”. Journal of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2 (2):245–268.




Most read articles by the same author(s)