Volume 84, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0025-9454
  • E-ISSN: 1876-2816


The impact of the mother tongue on the acquisition of Dutch as a destination language: The case of 13 West-European first languages .

This study reports on the impact of 13 West-European first languages spoken in 18 different language regions on the acquisition of Dutch. Results based on data from approximately 5,500 first-generation migrants, showed that the mother tongue had a considerable impact on the scores for two language skills as measured by the State Exam Dutch as a Second Language, namely oral and written proficiency in Dutch. Multilevel analyses revealed that the effect of the mother tongue could adequately be modeled by means of the cognate linguistic distance measure, adopted from McMahon and McMahon (2005). The explanatory power of the genetic linguistic distance measure (Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994) was rather poor. In addition, migrant characteristics (age of arrival, length of residence, number of hours of Dutch lessons, education, and gender) and the contextual characteristic quality of schooling in the country of origin contributed to the explanation of the variation in Dutch speaking and writing skills.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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