More and more parents in the Netherlands would like to familiarize their children with a second language at a young age. All kinds of advantages are associated with being multilingual. One advantage is that bilinguals do better on the labor market. But they also have a better understanding of differences between cultures, and some think bilingualism also leads to cognitive advantages.
At the moment only Dutch, Frisian or regional dialects may be used as a lingua franca at daycares for children in the Netherlands. Some daycares do offer multilingual care, but this is an exception.
The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment wants to know what the consequences would be if bilingual daycare will be officially allowed. It could be a great advantage for young children to playfully learn a second language. After puberty it generally more difficult to learn a second language. A four year experiment, that will run from 2018 to 2022, aims at understanding what effects bilingualism has on how children develop their languages.
The ministry has selected eleven daycare organizations to participate in this experiment. These childcare centers will offer a maximum of fifty percent of their opening hours either in English in one or several groups. The children, aged between zero and four are followed by researchers of the University of Amsterdam. Read more about the participants and the research of project MIND.