Different flags hanging across the street
Different flags hanging across the street

Multilingualism at school and in society

1 January 2023 until 31 January 2024
Project type

Although surprisingly beautiful innovations are popping up everywhere, school subject tradition often still determines how language proficiency is approached in secondary education: Dutch is mother tongue education, and Dutch is the language of instruction for all school subjects (except at TTO schools). Moreover, the use of other languages is often explicitly excluded. Other languages are foreign languages (often target languages French, German or English) or home languages (dialects, home languages, neighborhood languages). This is also known as the pillarization of language education. Students often have greater language potential than is exploited at school, so they miss out on success experiences, or the enjoyment of language eludes them. Better yet, exploring their multilingualism will also benefit their language skills in Dutch.

Furthermore, monolingualism (namely Dutch) at school has little to do with the reality of the students' living environment and the reality of Dutch society, which is precisely multicultural and multilingual. The acquisition of cross-language decoding strategies is therefore of great importance for the educational and/or professional development of students and for their social well-being.

We are developing an (online) workshop that appeals to students' linguistic and cultural awareness by introducing them to their own language potential. The module lets students experience what language knowledge they already have, and how to use it. How can you become multilingual without speaking other languages? How can you understand others without understanding them? In the module, students learn what language awareness is, what unconscious strategies they can make conscious, how to achieve mutual understanding by combining present knowledge well. This is done with a knowledge clip, a game and a teacher instruction. This material is made available to Dutch teachers, foreign language teachers and other interested parties. Target group: 10 to 12 year olds (primary education/undergraduate VWO).

Goal of this module is to let students experience that they have more language skills than they think: they can use their home language, their dialect or their neighborhood language and their knowledge of the world to communicate successfully.

Goal for the researchers: the goal is to develop a game, in which teams communicate with each other over the Internet to achieve a game outcome (think negotiation games). The data generated by this game will be used for further research.

Contact information