Jan ten Thije project coordinator Multilingualism & Participation

Multilingualism in representative advisory bodies

Prof. dr. Jan ten Thije. Foto: Didi van Zoeren
Jan ten Thije

After his retirement, Jan ten Thije has been reappointed as Professor of intercultural communication. He will continue to coordinate the project Multilingualism & Participation until 1 July 2022. The project aims to stimulate the participation of international staff and students in representative advisory bodies.

Video over het project Meertaligheid & Medezeggenschap

Starting last academic year, the University Council is experimenting with multilingualism in the form of Lingua Receptiva. It gives council members the opportunity to choose between speaking in Dutch or English. This improves the quality of the debate and can reduce fear of speaking. After all, not all Dutch speakers are so fluent in English that they can conduct a debate on complex issues satisfactorily. Moreover, they have to take into account internationals for whom the Dutch language and culture is new. With this choice, Utrecht University is preparing for a bilingual Dutch/English language policy in connection with the Language and Accessibility Act.

Developing tools 

The research project Multilingualism & Participation will support this experiment, but will also investigate other forms of multilingualism, such as the use of interpreters. The aim is to gain more insight into how participation advisory bodies can deal with multilingual situations, not only university-wide but also in faculty councils, curriculum committees or staff meetings. To this end, the project has developed a number of tools, such as the Toolkit Multilingual Meetings, the Workshop Multilingual Meetings (links accessible to employees only) and the receptive course Dutch as a Language of Administration. (The third installment of this course starts in February 2022. Information can be obtained from Kimberley Mulder). This project ties in with earlier research commissioned by the Nederlandse Taalunie into the use of Luistertaal in health care, construction and education.

Jan ten Thije 

Jan ten Thije obtained his doctorate in 1994 with research on intercultural team meetings in educational advisory institutes. He previously worked as a Hochschuldozent at the Technische Universit├Ąt Chemnitz and as a visiting professor at the Universit├Ąt Wien. From 2005 to 2020 he was coordinator of the Master's programme in Intercultural Communication, one of the successful Master's programmes at the Faculty of Humanities. He is specialised in intercultural communication in multicultural and international organisations.

More information

More information about Multilingualism & Participation and the research team can be found on the project page.

Also read the article in DUB: 'Why there should be a place for both English and Dutch in the University Council', by Jan ten Thije and Kimberly Naber.