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The reality of multilingualism is global. Whereas countries situated in what is commonly referred to as ‘the Global South’ are historically and ethnologically multilingual, countries in ‘the Global North’ have grown increasingly multilingual due to migration. In the case of the latter, providing quality education in every language of a school’s population would be overreaching. But studies have shown that it is possible to integrate, in some positive way, every learner’s mother tongue in school.
Speaking in dichotomous terms about the ‘South’ and the ‘North’ creates an illusion that these two spheres are opposites when, in fact, their challenges are quite similar. Especially when it comes to providing all learners with quality education. The challenges on multilingualism in schools are also shared. So let’s open up communication channels across borders and learn from one another.
The academic year of 2019-2020 centres on the theme of multilingualism. Internationally renowned speakers are invited to Belgium to inspire the Belgian educational field about previously unknown solutions to the shared challenge of multilingualism in school. The first event is a international guest lecture on 13 November.


09.30 a.m.     Registration and coffee
10.00 a.m.     Welcome
10.10 a.m.     Guest Lecture with:

  • Kathleen Heugh, University of South Australia, 'Multilingualisms, translanguaging and transknowledging: education for inclusion, cohesion and wellbeing' (see abstract below)
  • Piet Van Avermaet, Centre for Diversity and Learning, Ghent University
  • moderator: Jill Surmont, VUB (Free University Brussels)

11.30 a.m.     Coffee Break
11.45 a.m.     Round Table with Kathleen Heugh, Piet Van Avermaet and
                      the audience. Ayse Isçi, education centre Ghent, shares
                      classroom experiences. Sven Gatz, Brussels minister
                      for Multilingualism, talks about the role of the government
                      in positively approaching multilingualism at school.
                      Moderator: Jill Surmont
00.45 p.m.     Lunch
01.35 p.m.     Workshops - round 1 (see below)
03.00 p.m.     Workshops - round 2 (see below)
04.15 p.m.     End


  • Wednesday 13 November 2019 from 9.30 a.m. to 4.15 p.m.
  • In Ghent, De Krook, Miriam Makebaplein 1 (entrance via Platteberg 11), 9000 Ghent (route)
  • For teacher educators, pedagogical counsellors, (future) teachers and school leaders
  • Language:
    • The guest lecture and Meet&Greet are in English
    • The other workshops are in Dutch
  • Free participation, registration required. (See below)
  • To avoid food waste, please alert us in time should you have to cancel your participation.



Kathleen Heugh, University of South Australia, is a language education policy research specialist who has led system-wide and multi-country evaluation studies on languages and literacy in education in sub-Saharan Africa for international governments and development agencies alike. Her theoretical and field research in multilingual education in more than 30 countries has informed UNESCO language education policy recommendations for countries in Africa and South-East Asia. She has particular expertise in the relationship between the languages of learning and school retention, particularly for marginalised, migrant and displaced communities; and also in the relationship between faith and literacies in education in urban and rural settings.
Piet Van Avermaet is the director of Ghent University’s Centre for Diversity & Learning. He is a professor of multicultural studies, multilingualism in education and language policies. He has particular expertise and interests in multilingualism in education, vulnerability and social inequalities in education, language policies and practices in education, language policies and practices in contexts of (social) inclusion, language assessment, diversity and inclusion, integration and participation, discrimination in education, and migration.

Jill Surmont will lead the dialogue between the guest speakers and the interaction with the audience. Ms Surmont is Professor Didactics and Languages at VUB, University Brussels. In the past, she worked on the VALIDIV project (2012-2015) which aimed to validate diversity in the classroom and wanted to create a positive attitude towards the home languages of children. Before starting on this project, Ms Surmont was working on the e-CLIL project. In this European project, a team of language specialists and a team of computer specialists from different universities worked together on creating an internet platform on which teaching material for CLIL-teachers is made available.


We offer five internationally inspired workshops in two rounds. You can select the workshops of your choice in the registration form. 

1) Meet&Greet Kathleen Heugh on multilingualism and education
This session allows you to have an in-depth conversation with our international expert Kathleen Heugh. Join the Meet&Greet and share insights with Kathleen on how education can act positively towards multilingualism.
Target audience: teacher educators, pedagogical advisors, students, teachers and school leaders in early childhood, primary and secondary education

2) AVIOR project, bilingual materials for migrant children in Europe - Laurinde Koster, Rutu Foundation (NL)

Laurinde Koster is a researcher and educationalist at Rutu Foundation, a non-profit organisation promoting multilingualism and inclusive education worldwide. The Rutu Foundation was founded in Suriname by Dr Ellen-Rose Kambel who started the development of bilingual teaching materials mathematics for children from indigenous people. This initiative was the inspiration for the AVIOR project (Erasmus+). Eight partners from six European countries developed and implemented bilingual teaching material in schools for primary education. The use of the materials strengthened the relationship between the schools and multilingual parents, a hard to reach group. Laurinde will introduce the multilingual teaching materials en present the results of the project. In an interactive way you will learn how to approach multilingualism positively to enhance collaboration with parents.
Target audience: teacher educators, pedagogical advisors, students, teachers and school leaders in early childhood and primary education

3) Working with language passports - Fauve De Backer, Centre for Diversity & Learning

In our daily lives, language is used in complex and versatile ways. This makes it challenging for teachers to map the language repertoire of your learners. Using language passports, you can gain insight in the linguistic life of your learners: Which languages do they know? When and how do they use them? How do they feel using when they use them? The language passport is a mind map that invites and challenges learners to visualise their language repertoire. In this workshop, you will learn how to develop a language passport with your learners and what the advantages are.
Target audience: teacher educators, pedagogical advisors, students, teachers and school leaders in primary (grade 5-6) and secondary education.

4) Multilingualism as an asset for powerful education in a big city – Anouk Van Herf, Knowledge Centre Urban Coaching & Education, Educational Bachelor primary education Erasmus university college Brussels
How do you translate research results about the use of home languages of multilingual learners to classroom practice? In this workshop we share results and experiences from the practice-oriented research of the Educational Bachelor Primary Education of Erasmus University College Brussels. Together with students and teachers of primary schools in Brussels, we develop and implement activities that stimulate positive attitudes towards multilingualism. We focus on the use of the home languages of multilingual learners in multiple subjects, for instance mathematics or language. The research initiative takes place in grade 5 and 6 of primary education. The results will be transferred to the curricula of teacher education.
Target audience: teacher educators, pedagogical advisors, students, teachers and school leaders in primary education.

5) T@H, a digital tool to talk with parents and children about multilingual nurturing and growing up – Patrizia Civetta, FOYER
TALES @HOME wants to support multilingual families to help them to create an environment that stimulates language learning and wellbeing. In the framework of this Erasmus+ project, a digital application is developed for parents and their children which can be used to map emotions related to language. De tool can strengthen positive emotions and attitudes in the family to contribute to the wellbeing, social inclusion and language learning of the family members. In this workshop, you learn to know the tool and we focus on the supportive role of the professional. We introduce the importance of home languages, explain how the tool works and explore the possibilities it offers.  
Target audience: teacher educators, pedagogical advisors, students, teachers and school leaders in early childhood, primary and secondary education.

Do you want to share a story? Do you already have a question for the guest lecturers Kathleen Heugh and Piet Van Avermaet? Write them down in the registration form or mail to Soetkin.Bauwens@vvob.org. We will deliver the stories and questions (anonymous).