, Volume 23, Issue 3-4, pp 415-434,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 Oct 2009

Acquiring reading and vocabulary in Dutch and English: the effect of concurrent instruction


To investigate the effect of concurrent instruction in Dutch and English on reading acquisition in both languages, 23 pupils were selected from a school with bilingual education, and 23 from a school with education in Dutch only. The pupils had a Dutch majority language background and were comparable with regard to social-economic status (SES). Reading and vocabulary were measured twice within an interval of 1 year in Grade 2 and 3. The bilingual group performed better on most English and some of the Dutch tests. Controlling for general variables and related skills, instruction in English contributed significantly to the prediction of L2 vocabulary and orthographic awareness at the second measurement. As expected, word reading fluency was easier to acquire in Dutch with its relatively transparent orthography in comparison to English with its deep orthography, but the skills intercorrelated highly. With regard to cross-linguistic transfer, orthographic knowledge and reading comprehension in Dutch were positively influenced by bilingual instruction, but there was no indication of generalization to orthographic awareness or knowledge of a language in which no instruction had been given (German). The results of the present study support the assumption that concurrent instruction in Dutch and English has positive effects on the acquisition of L2 English and L1 Dutch.