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De organisatiecommissie is blij dr. Joana Duarte en prof. dr. Hans Bennis te kunnen verwelkomen als plenaire sprekers (abstracts volgen onderaan de pagina).


How education towards multilingualism evolves in Dutch schools: comments and perspectives

Dr. Joana Duarte

Associate lector Meertaligheid NHL Stenden / universitair docent Rijksuniversiteit Groningen


On the tautological character of a multilingual society 

Prof. dr. Hans Bennis

Algemeen secretaris Nederlandse Taalunie / emeritus hoogleraar Universiteit van Amsterdam



How education towards multilingualism evolves in Dutch schools: comments and perspectives

Dr. Joana Duarte

In the Netherlands 22% of the population has an immigrant background (CBS 2016). In urban areas, almost every second child speaks a home language other than Dutch. In addition, the Netherlands also has rich dialectal variation and regional languages (Kroon & Vallen 2010; Nortier 2009). This complex language ecology influences the ways in which schools perceive and teach languages. However, Dutch schools are still very much monolingual spaces, with a growing interest in English but not in other languages. This raises several questions: How can multilingual pupils learn Dutch, English and other languages and still maintain their home languages? What is the role of teachers in this process?

The presentation provides an overview of the evolution and recent developments around multilingualism in Dutch schools from an educational linguistics perspective. It particularly highlights how trends in internationalisation have been operationalized as “English only”, affecting both the teaching of other foreign languages and the acknowledgment of pupils’ home languages. It then presents evidence for a recent “multilingual turn” (May 2014) in the Dutch education system, with a paradigm shift in the way multilingualism is recently being acknowledged as resource.

The presentation will conclude by offering an alternative framework to address multilingualism in schools. It puts forward a holistic model for multilingual education (Duarte 2017; Duarte & Gunther-van der Meij 2018) and presents some examples of concrete classroom approaches developed through the implementation of the model. A discussion follows on future trends around multilingualism in Dutch schools, giving voice to both pupils and teachers.

Joana Duarte is professor for multilingualism at the University of Groningen and at the NHL Stenden Hogeschool. She is principal investigator in several national and international projects investigating multilingualism in primary, secondary and higher education.


CBS (2016). Bevolking naar migratieachtergrond. https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/achtergrond/2016/47/bevolking-naar-migratieachtergrond (01-07-2018)

Cummins, J. (2008). Teaching for transfer: Challenging the two solitudes assumption in bilingual education, in J. Cummins & N. H. Hornberger (eds), Encyclopedia of Language and Education (2nd ed., Vol. 5: Bilingual Education). New York: Springer Science+Business Media LLC, 65-75.

Duarte, J. (2017). Project proposal for 3M: Meer kansen Met Meertaligheid. Leeuwarden: NHL Stenden Hogeschool.

Duarte, J. & Günther-van der Meij, M. (2018). A Holistic model for multilingualism in education. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages Special Issue, Volume 5, Issue 2, 24-43.

Kroon, S. & Vallen, T. (2010). Und jetzt mal wieder der Dialekt und Schule. In: Vielfalt Chancengleicheit: Interkulturelle Pädagogik und Durchgängige Sprachbildung. Krüger-Potratz, M., Neumann, U. & Reich, H. (eds.). Münster: Waxman, 330-339.

May, S. (ed.; 2014): The Multilingual Turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education. New York, NY and London, UK: Routledge.

Nortier, J. (2009). Nederland Meertalenland. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.


On the tautological character of a multilinguistic society

Hans Bennis


In a recent publication (SCP: Denkend aan Nederland; 2019) the Netherlands Institute for Social Research shows that language is the most important identity factor for people in Dutch society. How do we relate this perspective to the multilingual character of our society? Although politics and the general public often claim that the Netherlands is or should be a monolingual society, it is quite obvious that our country is multilingual. In this presentation, I will discuss different forms of multilingualism and their social and political consequences. We find dialects and regiolects, regional languages such as Frisian, Limburgish and Low Saxon, languages of immigrants and newcomers, multilingualism at universities and city centers. In each of these cases the particular character of multilingualism has social and political consequences. What should be the role of language policy and the educational system with respect to the multilingualism of our society?


Hans Bennis (1951) is Algemeen Secretaris van de Nederlandse Taalunie. Hij is taalkundige met als specialiteit de syntaxis van het Nederlands. Hij is emeritus hoogleraar taalvariatie verbonden aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam en was geruime tijd directeur van het Meertens Instituut (KNAW) in Amsterdam. Hij heeft een lange lijst van publicaties over taal waaronder verschillende artikelen over taalvariatie en meertaligheid.