"I did research on high-school students’ reading comprehension in Aruba’s four main languages: Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish. Aruba is a multilingual society that struggles with language issues in education. Dutch is the official language in schools, and is considered an important language in part because many students want to continue their education in the Netherlands, but earlier studies have shown that educating Aruban children – most of whom speak Papiamento at home -- in Dutch does not work optimally. My research in Aruba contributed to this body of research with new findings concerning the actual language abilities and preferences of high school students. The students in my study – 402 in all -- read a short text translated into one of the four languages, and took a small test to check their understanding. I also asked questions about their language use in daily life and about language attitudes. My conclusion was, very shortly stated, that Aruban students tend to understand and like a text best when they have read it in English.
At first I feared, but eventually enjoyed, the responsibility of carrying out research from scratch. It felt good to arrange all the practical details myself and to write up the results of what had been my own research. It was also stimulating and enjoyable to work with people from another culture and to be in touch with a language that was new to me (Papiamento). On top of that, I was lucky enough to meet some 400 beautiful teenagers, who happily participated in the research, and many more people who helped me along the way."
-Florianne Sollie, UCU Class of 2015