Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2589-2053
  • E-ISSN: 2589-207x



This article provides a critical analysis of the language policy measures that were taken by the Flemish government (Belgium) to improve the quality of the teaching of the national language (Dutch) in compulsory education in Flanders and in the Flemish education system in Brussels. It builds on Van den Branden (2006a), which documented the implementation of task-based language teaching (TBLT) in primary, secondary and adult education in Flanders in the period between 1995 and 2005. Focusing on primary education, this article examines the different periods and trends in the government’s attempts to push the innovation of Dutch language education, and analyses its impact on the practice of teaching the language of schooling. The article highlights the gradual shift in focus from introducing TBLT materials and supporting the individual teacher to mandating the design of a school-wide language policy involving the whole school team, and from a top-down implementation to a more bottom-up driven, collaborative innovation process. The major aim of the article is to identify the factors that impacted on the effects of the innovation policy, against the backdrop of the growing influx of pupils who do not acquire Dutch (the main medium of instruction) as their mother tongue.

Available under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Barber, M. , Kihn, P. , & Moffit, A.
    (2011) Deliverology: From idea to implementation. Washington, DC: McKinsey & Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Berben, M.
    (2012) Hoe een taalbeleid het beleidsvoerend vermogen van je school kan verhogen. Impuls, 43(2), 88–98.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Berben, M. , Callebaut, I. , Colpin, M. , Francois, S. , Geerts, M. , Goethals, M. , Vander Meeren, K. , Vandommele, G. , Van Gorp, K. , & Vanoosthuyze, S.
    (2007) TotemTaal. Themahandleiding en kopieerbladen 4A. Mechelen: Wolters Plantyn.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Berben, M. , Van den Branden, K. , & Van Gorp, K.
    (2007) We’ll see what happens: Tasks on paper and tasks in a multilingual classroom. In K. Van den Branden , K. Van Gorp , & M. Verhelst (Eds.), Tasks in action: Task-based language education from a classroom-based perspective (pp.32–67). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bogaert, N. , Van Gorp, K. , Bultynck, K. , Lanssens, A. , & Depauw, V.
    (2006) Task-based language teaching in science education and vocational training tasks. In K. Van den Branden (Ed.), Task-based language education: From theory to practice (pp.106–128). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511667282.006
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667282.006 [Google Scholar]
  6. Breen, M.
    (1989) The evaluation cycle for language learning tasks. In R. Johnson (Ed.), The Second Language Curriculum (pp.187–206). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139524520.014
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524520.014 [Google Scholar]
  7. Carless, D.
    (2004) Issues in teachers’ reinterpretation of a task-based innovation in primary schools. TESOL Quarterly, 38 (4), 639–662. doi:  10.2307/3588283
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3588283 [Google Scholar]
  8. Castles, A. , Rastle, K. , & Nation, K.
    (2018) Ending the Reading Wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19, 5–51. doi:  10.1177/1529100618772271
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100618772271 [Google Scholar]
  9. Colpin, M. , & Van Gorp, K.
    (2007) Task-based writing in primary education: The development and evaluation of writing skills through writing tasks, learner and teacher support. In K. Van den Branden , K. Van Gorp , & M. Verhelst (Eds.), Tasks in action: Task-based language education from a classroom-based perspective (pp.194–234). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Devlieger, M. , Goossens, G. , Labath, T. , & Denolf, B.
    (2003) Procesevaluatie Voorrangsbeleid Brussel. Leuven/Gent: Steunpunt ICO & Steunpunt Nederlands als tweede taal.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Devlieger, M. , & Goossens, G.
    (2003) Productevaluatie Voorrangsbeleid Brussel. Leuven: Steunpunt Nederlands als tweede taal.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. (2006) Evaluatie van vier jaar Voorrangsbeleid Brussel, een intensieve onderwijsvernieuwing in Brusselse Nederlandstalige basisscholen met een meertalige populatie. Leuven: Steunpunt Nederlands als tweede taal.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. (2007) An assessment tool for the evaluation of teacher practice in powerful task-based language learning environments. In K. Van den Branden , K. Van Gorp , & M. Verhelst (Eds.), Tasks in action: Task-based language education from a classroom-based perspective (pp.92–130). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Ellis, R.
    (2009) Task-based language teaching: Sorting out the misunderstandings. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19(3), 221–246. doi:  10.1111/j.1473‑4192.2009.00231.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.2009.00231.x [Google Scholar]
  15. Ellis, R. , Skehan, P. , Li, S. , Shintani, N. , & Lambert, C.
    (2020) Task-based language teaching. Theory and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Erlam, R.
    (2016) ‘I’m still not sure what a task is’: Teachers designing language tasks. Language Teaching Research, 20(3), 1–21. doi:  10.1177/1362168814566087
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168814566087 [Google Scholar]
  17. Franck, E. , & Nicaise, I.
    (2019) Ongelijkheden in het Vlaamse onderwijssysteem: verbetering in zicht? Een vergelijking tussen PISA 2003 en 2015, Report No. SONO/2017/1.3/3, Leuven: HIVA / SONO (Steunpunt Onderwijsonderzoek).
    [Google Scholar]
  18. François, S.
    (2005) Naar een nieuwe taakgerichte taalmethode voor het basisonderwijs: behoeftenonderzoek (Unpublished research report). Leuven: Centre for Language and Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. González-Lloret, M. , & Nielson, K.
    (2015) Evaluating TBLT: The case of a task-based Spanish program. Language Teaching Research, 19, 525–549. doi:  10.1177/1362168814541745
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168814541745 [Google Scholar]
  20. Hargreaves, A. , & Fullan, M.
    (2012) Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York, NY: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Kotter, J. P.
    (2007) Leading change. Why transformation efforts fail. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Kyriakides, L. , Creemers, B. P. M. , Antoniou, P. , Demetriou, D. , & Charalambous, C. Y.
    (2015) The impact of school policy and stakeholders’ actions on student learning: A longitudinal study. Learning and Instruction, 36, 113–124. doi:  10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.01.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.01.004 [Google Scholar]
  23. Kubanyiova, M.
    (2012) Teacher development in action. Understanding language teachers’ conceptual change. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Littlewood, W.
    (2014) Communication-oriented teaching: Where are we now? Where do we go from here?Language Teaching, 47, 249–362. doi:  10.1017/S0261444812000134
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444812000134 [Google Scholar]
  25. Lokale inburgerings- en integratiemonitor
    Lokale inburgerings- en integratiemonitor (2019) Retrieved on27 January, 2020fromhttps://www.statistiekvlaanderen.be/nl/monitor-lokale-inburgering-en-integratie
  26. Long, M.
    (2015) Second language acquisition and task-based language teaching. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Mourshed, M. , Chijoke, C. , & Barber, M.
    (2010) How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better. London: McKinsey & Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Nguyen, B. T. , Newton, J. , & Crabbe, D.
    (2018) Teacher transformation of textbook tasks in Vietnamese EFL high school classes. In V. Samuda , K. Van den Branden , & M. Bygate (Eds.), TBLT as a researched pedagogy (pp.51–70). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tblt.12.03ngu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tblt.12.03ngu [Google Scholar]
  29. O’Connell, S. P.
    (2015) A task-based language teaching approach to the police traffic stop. TESL Canada Journal, 31, 116. doi:  10.18806/tesl.v31i0.1189
    https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v31i0.1189 [Google Scholar]
  30. Prabhu, N. S.
    (1987) Second Language Pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Schleicher, A.
    (2018) World Class. How to build a 21st-century school system. Paris: OECD Publishing. 10.1787/9789264300002‑en
    https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264300002-en [Google Scholar]
  32. Skehan, P.
    (1998) A cognitive approach to language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. (2014) Limited attentional capacity, second language performance, and task-based pedagogy. In P. Skehan (Ed.), Processing Perspectives on Task Performance (pp.211–260). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tblt.5.08ske
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tblt.5.08ske [Google Scholar]
  34. Steunpunt toetsontwikkeling en peilingen
    Steunpunt toetsontwikkeling en peilingen (2019) Peiling Nederlands. Lezen, luisteren en schrijven in het basisonderwijs 2018. Leuven: Steunpunt toetsontwikkeling en peilingen.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Tielemans, K. , Vandenbroeck, M. , Bellens, K. , Van Damme, J. , & De Fraine, B.
    (2019) Het Vlaams Lager Onderwijs in PIRLS 2016. Begrijpend lezen in internationaal perspectief in vergelijking met 2006. Leuven: Centrum voor Onderwijseffectiviteit en – evaluatie, KU Leuven.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Vanbuel, M.
    (2020) Moving language barriers. A mixed-methods study of the implementation of school-based language policies in primary schools (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). KU Leuven.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Van den Branden, K.
    (Ed.) (2006a) Task-based language education: from theory to practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511667282
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667282 [Google Scholar]
  38. (2006b) Introduction: Task-based language teaching in a nutshell. In K. Van den Branden , Task-based language education: From theory to practice (pp.1–16). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511667282.002
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667282.002 [Google Scholar]
  39. (2006c) Training teachers: Task-based as well?In K. Van den Branden (Ed.), Task-based language education: From theory to practice (pp.217–248). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511667282.011
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511667282.011 [Google Scholar]
  40. (2009) Diffusion and Implementation of Innovations. In M. H. Long , & C. J. Doughty , The handbook of language teaching (pp.659–672). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. 10.1002/9781444315783.ch35
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444315783.ch35 [Google Scholar]
  41. (2016) The role of teachers in task-based language education. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 36, 164–181. doi:  10.1017/S0267190515000070
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190515000070 [Google Scholar]
  42. (2019) Rethinking schools and renewing energy for learning: Research, principles and practice. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9781351044318
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351044318 [Google Scholar]
  43. Vandommele, G. , Van den Branden, K. , & Van Gorp, K.
    (2018) Task-based language teaching. How task-based is it really?In V. Samuda , K. Van den Branden , & M. Bygate (Eds.), TBLT as a researched pedagogy (pp.165–197). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tblt.12.07van
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tblt.12.07van [Google Scholar]
  44. Van Droogenbroeck, F. , Lemblé, H. , Bongaerts, B. , Spruyt, B. , Siongers, J. , & Kavadias, D.
    (2019) TALIS 2018 Vlaanderen – Volume I. Brussel: Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Van Gorp, K.
    (2018) Task-based language assessment for L1 and L2 speakers in primary education. Designing a useful task-specification framework. In J. McE. Davis , J. Norris , M. Malone , T. McKay , & Y. A. Son (Eds.), Useful assessment and evaluation in language education (pp.131–148). Washington, DC: Georgetown University. 10.2307/j.ctvvngrq.11
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvvngrq.11 [Google Scholar]
  46. (in press). Designing a classroom-based TBLA framework for primary schools: Blurring the lines between teaching, learning and assessment. In M. H. Long & M. J. Ahmadian Eds. The Cambridge handbook of task-based language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Van Gorp, K. , Heidrich Uebel, E. , & Giupponi, L.
    (forthcoming). Collaboration and Curriculum Development: The design of flexible modules in the Less Commonly Taught Languages Partnership. In A. R. Corin , C. Campbell & B. L. Leaver Eds. Open architecture curricular design: Courses and concepts. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Van Gorp, K. , & Versteden, P.
    (2020) Advising linguistically diverse schools on developing a school-wide language policy. In R. M. Beerkens , E. Le Pichon-Vorstman , J. D. ten Thije , & R. G. J. L. Supheert (Eds.), Enhancing intercultural communication in organizations: Insights from project advisors. Abingdon: Routledge. 10.4324/9781003006794‑13
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003006794-13 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): innovation; language policy; task-based language teaching; teacher education
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error