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Expert in the spotlight in September 2012, Rick de Graaff

The expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-on-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s.

Featured Expert / Area of focus

Rick de Graaff is Professor of Bilingual education at the Utrecht University, the Netherlands.
He does research on the didactics and learning effects of bilingual education, the professional development of language teachers, and the effectiveness of (online) tasks for intercultural communicative competence. The Chair of bilingual education collaborates with the European Platform and the nationwide network of bilingual teaching (CLIL).
He also is a professor of language pedagogy at the Inholland University of Applied Sciences

Face to face with Rick de Graaff

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/ multilingualism?
As a researcher and teacher educator in bilingual education and language pedagogy, my focus is on language learning and teaching in ‘content-rich’ settings. I teach foreign language pedagogy at the Utrecht University teacher training department to students of English, German, French and Spanish. Focus of my research is content and language integrated learning (CLIL), an educational approach according to which language learning does not only take place in (foreign) language classes, but throughout the curriculum. This relates to foreign languages in bilingual education, but also to mainstream and regional or minority languages. As learning and teaching takes place through language, any (subject) class is also a language class, and any subject teacher is also a language teacher.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?
Any teacher should become aware that s/he can play a major role in students’ language development, both in the majority language, regional/minority languages and in foreign languages. If language and subject teachers set shared goals and integrate subject and language tasks, schools can become powerful language learning environments. Research and practice should try to integrate insights from content and language integrated learning (CLIL), content-based language teaching and language-oriented subject teaching.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?
Utrecht University has just created a professorship in bilingual education/CLIL, which relates to the faculty of Humanities, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the European Platform and the Network for bilingual schools. One of the research issues is the implementation and effect of bilingual primary education and bilingual junior vocational education (tvmbo). As bilingual education (TTO) started in the Netherlands at the pre-university level, applying its principles to the specific contexts of primary and junior vocational education is a major challenge for research and pedagogy.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?
information on bilingual education in the Netherlands
information on early language learning in the Netherlands
information on language-oriented subject teaching
trilingual primary education in Fryslan, the Netherlands
publication on bilingual junior vocational education
impression of the CIL 2012 conference in Utrecht, April 2012

Do you have any questions on these topics?
Ask Rick

Featured topic

Our focus this month lies on Content en Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

CLIL Cascade network

CLIL Consortium