Multilingual children in early partial Dutch-English immersion in the Netherlands.

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2018-02-05
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en
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An increasing number of children with a minority language background are participating in immersion programs even though knowledge about the suitability of this kind of schooling for multilingual children is scarce. This study aimed to provide a detailed evaluation of multilingual children in Dutch-English immersion programs in the Netherlands in comparison to their monolingual peers in immersion and their multilingual peers in mainstream education. While controlling for possibly confounding factors such as SES and age, several Dutch and English language proficiency tasks were compared for 43 multilingual children in grade 1 (± age 4) and grade 3 (± age 6). Outcomes revealed that, in line with earlier German and Canadian findings, multilingual children in immersion programs scored no different from their monolingual peers on Dutch proficiency tasks and on the majority of English proficiency tasks. The only exception was English expressive grammar where the multilingual children outperformed their monolingual peers. In addition, results indicated that multilingual children in immersion programs had similar Dutch proficiency scores to their multilingual peers in mainstream education. Multilingual children in immersion programs outperformed their multilingual peers in mainstream education on most English proficiency tasks, with the exception of expressive vocabulary. Notably, no negative effects of immersion programs or multilingual background for Dutch proficiency, and neutral to positive effects for English proficiency were found. This study contributes to the limited existing research on the suitability of immersion programs and outcomes provide evidence that immersion programs in the Netherlands are a good fit for multilingual children.
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