CLS-valorisation grants 2022 awarded

Date of news: 28 April 2022

The Centre for Language Studies (CLS) has awarded five valorisation grants of 5,000 to 10,000 euros to CLS researchers. In the coming year, they will be working on an online dictionary of Nimweegs, teaching materials on sign language, language acquisition in an asylum centre, instructional material for primary school pupils for a first introduction to 'foreign' languages and submitting a new emoji.

pexels-rodnae-productions-7005687 (1)Photo by RODNAE Productions

Valorisation has become increasingly important as part of research output. To further stimulate valorisation initiatives, the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) annually offers a number of valorisation grants for which CLS staff can apply.

The selection was made by the CLS management team and the head of the grants support team. The valorisation grants 2022 were awarded to:

A detailed description per project can be found below.


Nimweegs Online - Prof. Marc van Oostendorp, Prof. Roeland van Hout and Dr Henk van den Heuvel

Nimweegs, the name of the dialect of Nijmegen, has been a source of inspiration for many activities at the Radboud University, in scientific theses and articles, but also at public events in the city such as the 'Nimweegs soap theatre' and 'the Nimweegs dictee (dictation)'. Research into Dutch dialects, and in particular the creation of dictionaries of those dialects, is an important task of linguists at Radboud University. Many of the large-scale, regional dialect dictionaries made in the past are now available online.

A project of particular importance for the university's outreach to the local community was the Nijmeegs dialectwoordenboek, the Nijmegen dialect dictionary (ND), which appeared in 2006 but has been out of print for a good number of years. The ND was a spin-off of dialectological activities at CLS and was the result of a successful exchange between linguistic expertise and dialect speakers from the Nijmegen community.

The main goal of the project Nimweegs Online is to design and to develop a new website on which the dialect of Nijmegen becomes visible and audible, supplemented with relevant dialect material based on almost a century of research, including data from the ND. One of the essential aspects of the website will be to make the dialect audible. The website will be launched together with a reprint of the paper dictionary by the local publisher and bookstore Dekker v.d. Vegt in a large public event.

You Understand Already - Dr Eva Knopp, Dr Sabine Jentges, Prof Marc van Oostendorp, Dr Warda Nejjari and Chrissy Laurentzen

The Netherlands is a multilingual society and many children in Dutch primary schools are exposed to other languages on a daily basis. Even if children do not speak a language other than Dutch at home, children in their neighbourhood or class do. In Dutch primary education, English is a compulsory subject from no later than group 7, and two other foreign languages (German, French, Spanish) become compulsory in the course of secondary education.

The researchers want to develop lessons for younger children - in cooperation with primary schools - so that they can discover their own language skills and become familiar with the study of language before they actively start learning a foreign language in group 7. The teaching material will consist of different lesbrieven (instructional packages) for grades 5 and 6, each also containing a kennisclip (instructional video). The instructional packages will make use of scientific insights, in particular receptive multilingualism (RM) strategies, which can be used when decoding texts in an unknown but related language. In this way, pupils learn that foreign languages are not necessarily 'strange' and incomprehensible.

The final instructional package and video will be published on a website. The researchers are starting with a pilot for German and hope to continue with languages such as English, French and Spanish, but also with languages that represent relatively large minority groups in the Netherlands, such as Frisian, Berber/Moroccan Arabic, Turkish, Chinese Mandarin, Papiamento and Polish.

Teaching materials about sign language and deafness for primary schools - Dr Ellen Ormel

The aim of this project is to develop teaching materials about sign language and deafness for different age groups, aimed at mainstream primary schools and (language) festivals and activities, such as Drongo and Kletskoppen. The aim is to raise awareness among children, parents and teachers about the impact of deafness and sign language on the lives of deaf people. Material will initially be developed for children between 4 and 8 years old (and preferably for older children in later projects).

The teaching material will consist of two sets. The first set consists of two live sessions of about half an hour with a sign language interpreter or a deaf person for hearing children and their teachers in mainstream primary schools. The sessions can also be used as a workshop at festivals, such as Kletskoppen, or in libraries. In the sessions, children learn a range of signs, are educated about deafness and its effects on language use, and awareness is raised about the consequences of having a deaf child in a hearing family and in mainstream schools.

The second set of materials consists of online resources that can be used by teachers and the children in their classes. Research results form the basis for the development of the online teaching materials. The material will consist of an introductory text for teachers and videos for children and their teachers.

Stimulating language acquisition in AZC Gilze: Language playhouse & Stepping Stones - Prof. Paula Fikkert

Children who grow up in asylum centres have had to flee from unsafe countries, endure traumatic experiences and live in unfavourable conditions. Although they are now safe,  young children from 0 to 4 years old are particularly at risk of a language disadvantage. When the children are four years old, they go to school where the key to learning is the command of the language of instruction: Dutch.

What these children need is more and richer language input at an early age. In recent years, Paula Fikkert and her team have developed the Noplica Language Playhouse. This is a physical outhouse in a schoolyard, with three playrooms, which provides language input in a playful manner. The games are based on studies of language learning. After one of the games was a successful activity at the WarChild Peace Festival, TeamUp - a collaboration between WarChild, Safe the Children and Unicef - is working to secure funding for a playhouse at AZC Gilze, a large asylum seekers' centre with many children.

Fikkert and her team want to create a community within AZC Gilze, which aims to strengthen language education for young children (2-6 years). A second part of the project focuses on refugee mothers with babies (0-2 years) in asylum centres. With the special language method Stepping Stones, the mothers will in 12 weeks receive basic knowledge of Dutch and knowledge on raising a child in the Netherlands, including information on language development.

Emoji Proposal - Dr Lieke Verheijen

The crying face, the laughing turd, the applauding hand. Everyone knows them. But how do new emojis come about? With this study, communication expert Lieke Verheijen wants to examine how the emoji-submission process works in practice. What does the Unicode Consortium, which has to approve all emojis, look for? What characterises a successful emoji submission? Can we submit a successful emoji proposal ourselves? The ultimate goal is to have a new music emoji accepted by the Unicode Consortium. For this, Verheijen will cooperate with Radio Veronica and Dr. Neil Cohn (Tilburg University), an emoji expert, who has previously submitted four successful emoji proposals.