Multilingualism in Children
In order to successfully communicate with one another, we need more than just good grammar and a large vocabulary; we also need to be able to read the quite subtle behaviors of other speakers and pay attention to the context of conversations. We know from previous research that multilingual children make different use of various non-verbal behaviours (or “cues”) that come up during interactions and from the context of the conversation.
Instances of contextual cues are whether there is, for example, a wall blocking the speaker’s sight so that they cannot see the toys that the child is talking about. However, since this line of research is still quite new, there are many fundamental questions about multilingualism in children that MultiCUE aims to answer.
About the Project
MultiCUE began in February 2022 and will run until September 2026. In this period, both multilingual and monolingual children across the Netherlands can participate in the research. MultiCUE is short for “Multilingual children’s Communicative Understanding and Efficiency”.
What are our research goals?
Our research targets four main questions:
- Why do multilingual children use communicative cues differently than monolingual children?
- Do multilingual children use these cues differently than monolingual children in real conversations (outside of experimental set ups in laboratory experiments)?
- Do multilingual children have less trouble understanding non-literal language (such as irony and indirect requests) where the true meaning must be inferred from communicative cues and the context in which a conversation takes place?
- Does the way in which multilingual children use communicative cues (in comparison to monolingual children) influence how they learn a new language?
MultiCUE is funded by NWO research, the Dutch Research Council.
Would your child like to participate in our research? Click below to fill out our participation form!