Faculty of Social Sciences
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Mercelina, Gil-Marie


Bilingualism, literacy and school success in the Dutch Caribbean

When it comes to literacy development on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao their particular multilingual context should be recognized. On the Leeward Islands, most of the children have exclusively Papiamentu/o (L1) as their mother tongue, but still the majority of these children first learn to read in Dutch (L2), a foreign language. In the majority of the schools reading is first taught in Dutch and then followed by Papiamentu/o. In only a few schools reading is first taught in the mother tongue and then followed by Dutch. Not only is there a big variation in the school curriculum, but also in the Dutch and Papiamentu/o skills and motivation that children bring to school, in home environment and in school and teacher factors. At this moment however, there is still little to no information about the personal variation in Learning to read and Reading to learn in this multilingual context. To gain insight on this topic a two-part project has been set up to follow these two developments. My part of the project focuses on the development of Learning to read in the first three grades of primary school.  The development of beginning reading skills in both L1 and L2 will be examined as a function of order of instruction, on the one hand, and child, family and school characteristics, on the other hand.

This project will not only provide scientific insight into the development of literacy in a multilingual context but also yield guidelines for literacy instruction in Papiamentu and Dutch in perspective of optimal school success.


Prof. Dr. Ludo Verhoeven, Prof. Dr. Eliane Segers, Prof. Dr. Ronald Severing