Children and Language Mixing: developmental, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects (CALM)


An intriguing phenomenon in the field of bilingualism is language mixing, the alternating of languages in the same episode of speech production. Language mixing is common, and research with bilingual adults demonstrates that it is regulated, creative and enhances communication. For children, however, while bilingualism is often seen as an advantage, language mixing provokes concerns. When children mix, it is often taken as a signal for low linguistic proficiency. As such, professionals working with bilingual children often encourage parents to avoid language mixing and ‘cleanly’ stick to one language only. Further reinforcing this idea, the vast majority of research on child bilingualism has investigated children’s two languages separately, excluding mixed utterances and measuring input and development per language. This approach ignores an inherent aspect of child bilingualism and fosters misconceptions. The aim of this research program is to investigate the effects of parental mixing on children’s language development and to develop an innovative, comprehensive model of children’s own mixing. To achieve this, I will 1) demonstrate whether and how mixed language input affects children's language development; 2) determine the influence of social, linguistic and cognitive factors on children's language mixing behaviour; 3) identify the impact of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) on the relation between mixed language input and children’s language development; and 4) elucidate the effect of DLD on children's language mixing behaviour. Children with DLD are included because they will amplify any effects of mixed input and highlight the role of linguistic and cognitive factors in children’s mixing behavior. The results of this novel parent-child investigation will inform scientific theories of bilingual development and language disorders. The findings will give educators and developmental specialists the information they need to help parents and children, and enhance communication between professionals, parents and children, directly impacting wellbeing and development in bilingual children.





Prof. dr. W.B.T. Blom

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Sociale Wetenschappen


01/07/2020 tot 30/06/2025