PhD Positions in Developmental, Psycholinguistic and Sociolinguistic Aspects
Utrecht University Department of Education and Pedagogical Science

Two PhD positions ‘Children and Language Mixing: developmental, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects (CALM)’ (1.0 FTE)

Job description

The Department of Education and Pedagogical Science has two vacancies for PhD candidates in the research programme 'Children and Language Mixing: developmental, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects (CALM)'. CALM has been funded by an NWO Vici Grant. You will be part of a larger project team, which will consist of the principle Investigator, a postdoctoral Researcher and several Research Assistants.

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, most of the 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 CALM is to investigate the effects of parental mixing on the children’s language development and to develop an innovative, comprehensive model of children’s own mixing. The two PhD projects aim to demonstrate whether and how mixed language input affects children's language development (PhD project 1), and determine the influence of social, linguistic and cognitive factors on children's own language mixing behaviour (PhD project 2). The focus will be on preschool children between ages 3-5 years. Ecologically valid home recordings will be collected and analyzed, using Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA). In addition, questionnaires and experimental data will be obtained.


  • conducting the research (literature research, recruiting parents and children, collecting and analyzing observation/questionnaire/experimental data, reporting the results), resulting in international scientific publications and a dissertation;
  • to present results at national and international scientific conferences;
  • teaching (max. 10%) in the form of supervising students writing their Bachelor's and Master's theses;
  • active participation in the research group of the project and of the Department of Education and Pedagogical Sciences, subdivision Special Education: Cognitive and Motor Disabilities;
  • ambition to collaborate with (inter)national partners and to pay visits to these partners.


We are looking for someone who:

  • holds (or nearly holds) a Master’s degree (preferably a Research Master’s) in linguistics, pedagogical sciences, developmental psychology or a related field;
  • has affinity with bilingual language development;
  • has good social skills;
  • is effective and efficient, and able to think conceptually;
  • has good statistical skills;
  • can meet deadlines, and conduct research independently and as part of a team;
  • has good communication skills (written and oral) in English and Dutch. Additional skills in other languages, such as Turkish and/or Polish, could be an advantage.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year, starting preferably 1 September 2021. Upon a positive performance, the appointment will be extended for three more years. The gross salary starts at €2,395 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht is a young and vibrant city with a large academic population, around 30 minutes south of Amsterdam. It combines a beautiful old city centre with a modern university. Utrecht has an excellent quality of life, with plenty of green space and a strong bicycle culture.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in Interdisciplinary Social Science, Cultural Anthropology, Educational Sciences, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology, and Sociology. More than 5,600 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 850 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.

Additional information

Additional information regarding these positions can be obtained from Prof. Elma Blom, via

For more information about employment conditions please contact Natalie Zuiverloon (Management Coordinator Pedagogy), e-mail:

The first interviews will take place in the week of 21 June 2021.


You can apply by using the button below. Please include:

  • a motivation letter (about 1 page), explaining why you are interested in the project and how you meet the requirements;
  • a curriculum vitae with a publication list (if you have any);
  • contact information of two references.

The application deadline is

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