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Academic Paper

Author: Frans W. P. Van der Slik
Institution: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: Dutch
Abstract: This study reports on the impact of 11 West European first languages on the acquisition of Dutch. Using data from nearly 6,000 second-language learners, it was found that the mother tongue had a rather large impact on two language skills—namely, oral and written proficiency—as measured by the scores received by these learners on the State Examination of Dutch as a Second Language. Multilevel analyses showed that the effect of the mother tongue can adequately be modeled by means of the cognate linguistic distance measure, adopted from McMahon and McMahon (2005). The explanative power of the genetic linguistic distance measure (Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, & Piazza, 1994), on the other hand, was rather poor. Additionally, learner characteristics (age of arrival, length of residence, hours studying Dutch, education, and gender) and context characteristics (quality of schooling in the country of origin and multilingual country of origin) explained part of the variation in Dutch speaking and writing skills.


This article appears IN Studies in Second Language Acquisition Vol. 32, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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