PhD position on receptive multilingual communication (1,0 FTE)

Hours per week: 
38 to 40
Faculty of Humanities
Departement Talen, Literatuur en Communicatie
Application deadline: 

Job description

The Dutch language barrier can hold internationals back from participating in Dutch-language meetings of participatory bodies at universities. As a result, the perspective of internationals in policy-making is considered hardly or to a lesser extent. Receptive multilingualism (also known as Intercomprehension or Lingua Receptiva / Luistertaal) might offer solutions for such situations, where interlocutors speak/write their own language and are able to understand/read the other language. It would enable internationals to communicate effectively using receptive proficiency in Dutch and their productive proficiency in English, avoiding the need to develop advanced Dutch proficiency in the productive skills, which are far more time-consuming to acquire.  

The PhD project will be concerned with the analysis of receptive multilingual meetings of participatory bodies in academic settings, in order to understand and improve communicative effectiveness. As part of the programme, internationals will be taught receptive Dutch, and Dutch locals will be taught to adapt to and anticipate multilingualism. At both ends, different cultural backgrounds are taken into consideration as well.

This project aims to develop effective strategies for learning and using receptive multilingual communication among highly educated learners. The results can be used for developing language learning methods and help institutions create a more inclusive international environment.Check out the following links for more info on the awarded project, the preparatory project on multilingualism at Utrecht University and Utrecht University’s bilingual language policy.

Tasks for the PhD candidate:

  • Completion and defense of a PhD thesis within four years.
  • publication of at least three peer-reviewed articles in established international journals;
  • regular presentation of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • co-organization of project workshops, language training and conferences;
  • participation in training programmes and international expert meetings organised by the project;
  • participation in relevant training programmes provided by the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS and the Utrecht University graduate school, the National Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT) and other organisations;
  • participation in teaching on relevant areas at the BA or MA level in years 2 and 3 of the project.


We expect candidates to have:

  • an MA degree (or equivalent) in intercultural communication, discourse studies or multilingual education in hand by the starting date;
  • affinity with research on (multilingual / intercultural) communication;
  • demonstrable knowledge in at least one of the following areas: institutional communication, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and institutional ethnography;
  • a high proficiency in academic English;
  • a high receptive proficiency in Dutch;
  • ability to work both as an independent researcher and as a team member in an interdisciplinary team;
  • strong organizational, social and communication skills;
  • ability to meet deadlines;
  • readiness to learn new research methods, corpus linguistics and statistical analyses;
  • workings experience in the field of managing diversity and inclusion in organizations;
  • experience in or affinity with participatory bodies (‘Medezeggenschap’) is a plus.


This is an appointment of 1,0 FTE for the duration of 18 months. Upon good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months (4 years in total)
The gross salary starts with € 2,541 per month in the first year and increases to € 3,247 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme. More information on working at Utrecht University.

About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 6,000 students and 1,100 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city center of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

The research is conducted within the Language & Communication and Language & Education research group of the Institute for Language Sciences (Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS (UiL OTS)). Staff members actively participate in applied linguistics organisations, such as Anéla and AILA. The UiL OTS research staff comprises approximately 20 full professors, a dozen postdocs and roughly 40 PhD students.

UiL OTS is part of the Department of Languages, Literature and Communication in the Faculty of Humanities.  This faculty has approximately seven thousand students and nine hundred staff members. It comprises four Research Institutes: The Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Institute of History and Art History, Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICON), and the Institute for Language Sciences / UiL OTS. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment. The Department of Language, Literature and Communication offers BA and MA programmes in language education, intercultural communication, literary studies, linguistics, communication studies, translation, as well as Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Celtic languages.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact: Prof Rick de Graaff (P.I.), via


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

If you are interested in applying for the advertised PhD position, please submit digital copies of:

  • a CV including full personal and academic details;
  • a motivation letter with a clear statement on your interest in this PhD position;
  • a reflection on relevant academic and professional experience in multilingual or multicultural communication;
  • relevant diplomas and academic transcripts;
  • your (draft) Master’s thesis and other relevant publications you can provide;
  • names and full contact details of two academic referees.

Please include your name and a reference to the position you are applying for in the filenames and use the application button below to apply.

Interviews will be held  during the week starting October 31. In preparation, you will be given a short research task that you will be asked to report on during the interview.

The application deadline is 16 October 2022.