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Expert in the Spotlight in 2010: Guus Extra

The expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the field of European minority languages or regional languages, bilingualism and multilingualism at school and at home, education, language learning, language policy and cultural participation in favour of linguistics diversity in Europe, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s. 

Featured Expert / Area of focus:

Guus Extra holds the Chair of Language and Minorities at Tilburg University in the Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language and Culture Studies at Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands. From 1998-2008, he was Director of Babylon, Centre for Studies of the Multicultural Society.

Babylon has been established in 2002 by the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences as the multidisciplinary and interfaculty Centre for Studies of the Multicultural Society at Tilburg University. The research focus of Babylon is on the characteristics and management of cultural, linguistic and religious diversity in the multicultural society, taken from an international comparative perspective. It is Babylon’s ambition to become one of Europe’s leading centres for the study of multilingualism and multiculturalism in the context of globalization.

Ask Guus

Face to face with Guus Extra

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism?
I have been a member of the steering committees for the Dutch Science Foundation Programme on Multilingualism and Minorities in the Netherlands (1988–1994) and for the DSF Programme on The Multicultural and Pluriform Society (1998–2002). I also was a member of the international management team for the European Science Foundation Programme on Second Language Acquisition by Adult Immigrants (1982–1988) and coordinator of the Multilingual Cities Project funded by the European Cultural Foundation (1998–2004). I have an extensive record in research on second language acquisition, first language use/maintenance/loss by immigrant minority groups, and multilingualism and education, both at the national (Dutch) and the European level.  A list of publications you will find on this link ( On many research projects in the fields mentioned above I have been a coordinator, both at the national (Dutch) and national level.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

A major challenge in research on minority languages is the development of overarching concepts and policies with respect to both regional and immigrant languages across Europe. Both domains show many similarities, among which the key area of the linkage between language and identity.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

In cooperation with the British Council in Berlin & Brussels, The Migration Policy Group in Brussels and many national partners across Europe, Babylon is currently working on the development of an Index of Language Policies and Practices in Europe, as a follow-up of the proposed MPG Index on Migrant Integration Policy (2007).

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?  : website of Babylon at Tilburg University  : website of Guus Extra  : a community of scholars engaged in research on language and globalization

Do you have any questions on these topics?
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Featured topic: Immigrant minority languages, multilingualism and education

Further reading:
Recent key publications

  • Extra, G., M. Spotti & P. Van Avermaet (Eds.) (2009). Language Testing, Migration and Citizenship: Cross-National Perspectives on Integration Regimes. London: Continuum.
  • Extra, G. & D. Gorter (Eds.) (2008). Multilingual Europe: Facts and Policies. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Barni, M. & G. Extra (Eds.) (2008). Mapping Linguistic Diversity in Multicultural Contexts. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Extra, G. & K. Yağmur (Eds.) (2004). Urban Multilingualism in Europe: Immigrant Minority Languages at Home and School. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  • Extra, G. et al. (2002). De Andere Talen van Nederland: Thuis en op School. Bussum: Coutinho.
  • Extra, G. & J.J. de Ruiter (Eds.) (2001). Babylon aan de Noordzee. Nieuwe Talen in Nederland. Amsterdam: Bulaaq.
  • Extra, G. & D. Gorter (Eds.) (2001). The Other Languages of Europe. Demographic, Sociolinguistic and Educational Perspectives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.