“Many people think that children are fully automatic language sponges. That is not true. It is also often thought that multilingualism is a problem for children. Again incorrect.”

Research focus: Multilingualism, Language development, Language disorders

Elma Blom is Professor of Language Development and Multilingualism in Family and Education.

Focus on multilingual children and developmental language disorder (DLD)

Blom is interested in the development of multilingual children and developmental language disorder. In her research she focuses, among other things, on distinguishing language delay from a congenital language disorder, diagnostics in multilingual children, relationships between cognitive development and language development and the influence of language environment.

Blom is leader of the research consortium Multilingual voices in STEM education (Multi-STEM). Within this consortium Blom looks at the different contexts in which children learn: at school, at home, but also in science museums. "Language can stand in the way of participation and knowledge development in education, especially if a child is not yet fully proficient in the Dutch language. How can we solve this problem?” The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a major grant to the consortium for this purpose.


Blom received a Vici grant from NWO for the Children and Language Mixing: developmental, psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic aspects (CALM) research. Many bilinguals combine or mix languages when they speak. Blom aims to find out if children have difficulties learning language from mixed sources, how and why children mix, and if language mixing is different for children with and without a Developmental Language Disorder.


Language development and multilingualism in family and educational contexts
Inaugural lecture date