Young refugee students in primary education; language acquisition and well-being


Young refugee students are a vulnerable group in primary education and teachers find it difficult to meet these children’s educational needs. First, there is a lack of recent and integrated tools for teaching Dutch as a second language (“Dutch L2”), particularly for the first grades of primary education. Developing this is not commercially interesting, and can only be achieved with financial aid from the government (Inspectie van het Onderwijs, 2015a). Second, teachers report that young refugee students often have difficulties to initiate adequate learning behavior. These teachers observe more conflicts and less task-directed behavior in international classes than in regular classes, leading to less optimal learning behavior, and they often suspect underlying distress or trauma. For this reason, they express the need to monitor and stimulate well-being in this particular group of students.
The aim of this project is to combine and further developed materials in a Dutch L2 package for grades 1-2 (of the Dutch school system) and to investigate its effectiveness. Both language and social-emotional well-being are of crucial importance for child development and school learning, and have an intricate relationship. However, there are no studies known that address the effects of well-being and distress on the learning achievements of young refugee children. The proposed project offers the unique possibility to combine an applied study (resulting in a badly-needed Dutch L2 package and instruments for assessing and promoting well-being) with a fundamental, practically relevant study on Dutch L2 acquisition and it’s relation with well-being in young refugee students.



  • W.E. Kupers, M.D. Boelhouwer, M.W.G. van Dijk, H. Leeuwestein(2019): Risicofactoren en Beschermende factoren Trauma-Observatie Schoolse Situaties (ReBTOSS)





Dr. M.W.G. van Dijk

Verbonden aan

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Faculteit Gedrags- en Maatschappijwetenschappen


01/12/2018 tot 31/12/2021