Differences in language development among young children in Northeast Netherlands

Bé Poolman

Research output: Ph.D. ThesisPhD Research internal, graduation external


It is generally assumed that in the countryside of Northeast Netherlands children enter primary school with a language delay. Despite the apparent consensus,
unequivocal evidence demonstrating that the number of young children with language delays and the magnitude of these delays is, however, lacking. The first aim of this dissertation was, therefore, to examine whether children in Northeast Netherlands indeed enter primary school with language delays, compared to national norms and to same-aged children in other parts of the country. The second aim was to examine the role of socioeconomic and cultural determinants of language development in young children at the beginning stages of primary education.
The findings revealed that there are no overall language delays in young children at the beginning stage of primary education in Northeast Netherlands. The predominant image that young children in this region start primary school with a language delay, needs to be adjusted. However, there are clear indications that within the general population in Northeast Netherlands, a relatively large group of children suffers from persistent language delays. It is suggested that changing demographic composition of the villages in the northeastern countryside is related to the differences in language skills that are indicated in this research. Empirical evidence is found for this assumption: this research has revealed that the relationship of socioeconomic factors such as maternal education and language skills of young children are mediated by cultural factors such as the literacy use of parents, their beliefs about child rearing and education, and their expectations regarding children’s academic achievement
Original languageEnglish
  • Minnaert, Alexander, Supervisor, External person
  • Leseman, P.P.M., Supervisor, External person
  • Doornenbal, Jeannette, Supervisor
  • Elbers, Ed, Advisor, External person
  • de Glopper, Kees, Advisor, External person
  • Timmerman, Margaretha, Advisor, External person
Place of PublicationGroningen
Print ISBNs9789402800531
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • language development
  • children
  • underdeveloped areas
  • northeast netherlands


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