‘How do bilingual children in Friesland read?’ With this study, postdoctoral researcher Evelyn Bosma (UL/UU) and PhD student Naomi Nota (RU/MPI) won the fifth Klokhuis Science Award. In the coming year, the popular children’s program will make an episode about their research.
How do bilingual children in Friesland read?
In the study, children between the ages of 9 and 12 read sentences in Frisian and Dutch, while an eye-tracker registered their eye movements. The results showed that in Frisian, words that are identical to Dutch (e.g., jurk – jurk ‘dress’) were read faster than words that are a bit (suiker – sûker ‘sugar’) or completely different (varken – baarch ‘pig’). This means that children use their knowledge of Dutch when they read in Frisian. In Dutch, however, the effect was not visible. Bosma and Nota explained their results in terms of language dominance: as all children in Friesland learn to read in Dutch, Dutch is the dominant reading language.
Advancing the European Multilingual Experience
This research was part of the European research project Advancing the European Multilingual Experience (AthEME), a collaborative research project across 8 European countries. Bosma worked as a postdoctoral researcher on the project and supervised Nota’s master’s thesis. Together they wrote the paper Cognate facilitation in Frisian–Dutch bilingual children’s sentence reading: An eye-tracking study (open access).