Second language acquisition

NetherlandsLine 3: Second language acquisition

The relationship between dyslexia and second language acquisition is addressed in this line of research. Our aim is to gain insight in the impact of dyslexia on different components of second language acquisition, as well as to develop effective interventions for literacy skills in second language of children with dyslexia.

Projects within this line of research include:

ORWELL-project: All children are equal but some are more equal than others. Improving the acquisition of English at school.

Excellent English language education is considered extremely important for societal success. Although English is mandatory, and demands of national exams have recently become more strict, it is yet unknown how teaching can optimally cater for individual differences between children. This project has two aims: 1) Detecting predictors for success in learning English in the last three years of primary education 2) Developing teaching methods to optimize the learning of English as a foreign language for individual learners. These research aims will be studied within two subprojects which are described below.

Subproject 1: Predicting proficiency and optimizing English language skills for individual children

This project will focus on cognitive and motivational predictors of written and oral proficiency in English using a longitudinal approach. It will also specifically target teaching of English comprehension and writing. Affect and motivation will be longitudinally tested and related to literacy skills. In contrast to earlier studies, individual differences in second language learning success are central. In addition to predictors for individual success we use adaptive training programs to improve learning and to gain insight into the learning process itself. We will determine which children show slower learning rates and poorer response to intervention and therefore need individualized instruction.

Subproject 2: Optimizing oral proficiency in English for individual children

The second project is aimed at evaluating intervention studies that aim to improve oral proficiency of English. Children that are at risk of difficulties with learning English at school will be included in this intervention study. Three groups will participate: children with developmental dyslexia; children with specific language impairment and sequential bilingual children who have a minority language as their first language.The intervention study will be carried out during two years and will specifically focus on improving oral proficiency.

Researchers: Maurits van der Molen, Patrick Snellings, Judith Rispens, Jurgen Tijms, Nihayra Leona, Margreet van Koert-Hoogervorst

This research has been made possible with a grant from the Netherlands Initiative for Education research (NRO), part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Dutch research council.


Finished projects within this research theme include:

Second language acquisition in pupils with dyslexia in secondary education

In this project differences in second language acquisition between pupils in secondary education with and without dyslexia were investigated, as well as the effectiveness of a training for reading fluency in English.

Researchers: Renske Eijsvogel, Lisanne van den Hoek, Patrick Snellings

Second language acquisition in poor readers within primary education

This project focused on the differences in second laguage acquisition between poor readers and typical readers in primary education. Additionally, the effectiveness of a training for reading fluency in English for poor readers were evaluated.

Researchers: Barbara de Ridder, Patrick Snellings

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