Reading aloud at Kletskoppen Festival
Reading aloud at Kletskoppen Festival


Discovering the science of language together

Kletskoppen is a project of the Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics, in which scientists present their knowledge of language and language development to children (2-12 years old) and their (grand)parents in a cheerful and playful way. Kletskoppen develops science-based language games and classes on linguistics and employs these at different kinds of activities across the country, such as (mini-)festivals, roadshows and science days. These involve language acquisition, multilingualism, language enjoyment, language education, reading promotion, low literacy and diversity. Attention is also focused increasingly on audiences that are less likely to come into contact with science.


Central to the activities is a festival that takes place every two years in library De Mariënburg in Nijmegen which, in addition to a market with short language games, offers a wide range of activities, such as interactive quizzes on language and science (‘Ren je rot!’), reading sessions in various languages, workshops on foreign languages, appearances by children’s book authors, musical theatre performances and much more. Preliminary courses are organised to also involve children in the festival that are less likely to come into contact with science, in collaboration with IMC Weekendschool and VoorleesExpress. The festival has now taken place five times (2017, 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2024), and attracted an average of 1000 attendees, about half of whom were children. 

Aside from the festival in Nijmegen, Kletskoppen regularly appears at other festivals, such as Expeditie Next and the Zwarte Cross. Moreover, as part of the NWA project Kletskoppen op Maat, activities take place in The Hague, Rivierenland and Limburg. In 2023, for instance, a successful festival took place for the second time in the Transvaal neighbourhood of The Hague (200 children with a migration background) and a series of four classes on language and science were taught at four primary schools in Limburg and Rivierenland.


The core organisation of Kletskoppen consists of scientific director and linguist Sharon Unsworth, project leader Pim Franssen (impact advisor at Research Office Arts), production manager Marieke van Egeraat (project coordinator at Research Office Arts) and production assistant Marieke van den Akker (research assistant at the Max Planck Institute) They are supported by a Scientific Team of language researchers from different research institutes (in Nijmegen: Centre for Language Studies, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Donders Institute, Behavioural Science Institute; and elsewhere: University of Utrecht, University of Amsterdam, Fryske Akademy, University of Leiden) and a crew made up of student assistants. They work with the organisation and aid the development of new activities. In this way, Kletskoppen offers (junior) researchers and students a chance to gain experience in the field of science communication and public engagement.

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