Donnerstag, 17. Januar 2019, 16:30 - 18:30 iCal

Public lecture: Dr Chloé Lybaert, Ghent

(Ghent University, Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication)

"Only the standard variety in the second language classroom? The impact of language-in-education policy in Flanders on communication between L2 learners of Dutch and L1 speakers"

Hörsaal 1, Institut für Sprachwissenschaft (1. Stock)
Sensengasse 3a, 1090 Wien


As in many other parts of the world, processes of globalisation and international migration have led to increased social, cultural and linguistic heterogeneity in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Like most countries in the European Union (cf. Extra e.a. 2009), Flanders strongly encourages, or – for non-EU-citizens – obliges newcomers to follow a civic integration programme, which includes language courses to learn the official language (VMIM 2018). It is the understanding of the policy domain of integration that certified competence in Dutch will enhance integration and increase newcomers’ chances in the labour market. The importance given to the national language in Flanders goes hand in hand with a preference for the standardised variety of that language. As a consequence, Dutch as a second language classes are specifically tailored to the instruction of Standard Dutch (cf. the curricular demands).

However, not only does this insistence on Standard Dutch in education differ from the language background of most newcomers, it also contrasts to everyday spoken encounters in Flanders, where standard spoken Dutch is rarely used. Instead Flanders is characterised by an abundance of non-standard language use and hybridity: either dialect, or tussentaal, an often used umbrella term for supraregional variation situated between Standard Dutch and the dialects (Lybaert & Delarue 2017).

The question should however be raised whether efforts to meet the imposed Standard Dutch requirements in class actually translate into better communication and integration of newcomers in Flemish society, as is assumed in policy documents of Flemish minister of education Liesbeth Homans. Despite the perceived importance of learning the official language of the host-society, the attested contrast between policy and language reality has up to now not been given the attention it deserves.

During my talk I will elaborate on the impact of this contrast by reporting on on-going ethnographic fieldwork with two groups of Dutch-learning newcomers in Ghent, a Flemish multicultural metropolis. By means of a qualitative analysis of different types of data – observations with field notes in the classroom, audio recordings of conversations between L1 and L2 speakers of Dutch outside of class, and audio recorded interviews – I will go into the communication difficulties these L2 learners face when talking to L1 speakers of Dutch.



Extra, Guus, Massimiliano Spotti & Piet Van Avermaet. 2009. Language Testing, Migration and Citizenship: Cross-National Perspectives. London: Continuum.

Jaspers, Jürgen (ed.). 2009. De klank van de stad: stedelijke meertaligheid en interculturele communicatie. Leuven/Den Haag: Acco.

Lybaert, Chloé & Steven Delarue. 2017. 'k Spreek ekik ver altijd zo. Over de opmars van tussentaal in Vlaanderen. In Gert De Sutter(ed.) De vele gezichten van het Nederlands in Vlaanderen. Een inleiding tot de variatietaalkunde, Gent: Acco.

VMIM. 2018. = Vlaamse Migratie- en Integratiemonitor 2018. Accessed on 9/7/18,


Arbeitskreis Mehrsprachigkeit


Mi-Cha Flubacher
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
Angewandte Sprachwissenschaft