In the period from 2018 to 2022 eleven childcare organizations in the Netherlands will offer bilingual daycare to children between the ages zero to four. The everyday language will be English or French as well as Dutch. The MIND research team of the University of Amsterdam will study the impact of bilingual daycare on language development in young children.

The research will focus on three topics:

 

Development of Dutch language Proficiency

“In my research for project MIND, I will investigate the impact of bilingual daycare on the acquisition of Dutch. It is possible that the offering of English or French not only affects proficiency in these languages, but also proficiency in Dutch. In Dutch, there are relatively few studies that investigate these effects. Therefore, my main goal is to understand how bilingual daycare affects on the development of Dutch in young children. I will do so by testing vocabulary and various grammatical structures, especially structures that might be easily influenced by English or French. This study will also investigate whether and how the second language is used in more spontaneous free play situations.’’
Darlene Keydeniers, PhD Project MIND

Development of second language proficiency in English and French

“For my part of the project, I will be studying the development in English and French. It is a  common assumption in linguistics that input is vital for the acquisition of a second language. Will the input offered by these daycare be enough for children to make much progress in learning English or French? And how much English or French input do these children need to progress? I will investigate these questions by doing vocabulary and grammar activities with the children every ten months. In addition, I will investigate the kind of input that is offered. How does the daycare teacher speak to the children, and how do they react to this? What is the influence of the input of the teacher on the second language use of the children? To get an idea of how this works I will observe conversations in the second language between the teacher and the children.”
Kyra Hanekamp, PhD Project MIND

The role of native language

 “The central question in my research for project MIND is what role the native language plays in the language development of children at bilingual daycare centers. Will children with a well-developed vocabulary and grammar in their native language acquire a second language more easily than children who have less well-developed language skills in their native language? And does the extent to which parents undertake stimulating activities at home (like reading to their children) influence the acquisition of a second language? When answering these questions I will differentiate between children who have learned Dutch (or English or French) as their first  language, and children who are learning Dutch (or English or French) as their second language. I will analyze the vocabulary and grammar data and the information parents provided by filling out questionnaires concerning language use at home. I will make use of various research methods to collect data from children, parents and  pedagogical staff.’’
Josje Verhagen, Postdoctoral researcher Project MIND