Professor Piet Van Avermaet

Bio of Professor Piet Van Avermaet


Piet Van Avermaet is Professor in ‘Language and Diversity’ in the Linguistics Department of Ghent University, Belgium, where he teaches 'multicultural studies', 'multilingualism in education' and 'language policy'. He is also director of the Centre for Diversity and Learning (CDL), at the Linguistics Department of Ghent University (2005 – now). The CDL brings together a range of activities: research, in-service teacher training, development of materials and tools, consultancy. These activities are all pursued with diversity in mind and coordinated on the basis of constant exchange and cooperation within the multidisciplinary team. Piet Van Avermaet and the CDL carry out predominantly mixed method research into processes and strategies of dealing with diversity and contexts of educational inequality. Piet Van Avermaet has an MA in Applied Linguistics (University of Tilburg, The Netherlands) and a PHD in Sociolinguistics (“language shift among Italian immigrants in Flanders”, University of Leuven, Belgium). From 1992 till 2005 he worked as a researcher at the Centre for Language and Education, KULeuven, where he was also the coordinator of the International Certificate Dutch as a Foreign Language (CNaVT). He has a long-standing expertise in the field of diversity, language and social inequality in education. His expertise and research interests cover topics related to multilingualism in education, social inequality in education, language policy and practice in education, language policy and practice in contexts of (social) inclusion, language assessment, diversity and inclusion, integration and participation, discrimination in education, migration. He is a frequently asked keynote speaker at several international conferences. He is (co-)author of over 120 articles in ISI-ranked journals, international and national peer reviewed journals; books, book chapters and articles for non-academic professionals in the field ( He is series editor (with Kathleen Heugh and Christopher Stroud) of the book series ‘Multilingualisms and Diversities in Education’, Bloomsbury. Over the last 10 years he was successful in applying for over 80 research and valorization grants, of which many are very competitive (he was/is involved in 6 SBO projects, FWO projects, …). He was also successful in calls for public agencies both national and international (ERASMUS+ K2 and K3 projects). He was (co)promotor of 6 completed phd’s. He is currently (co)promoter of 11 phd’s.


Piet Van Avermaet is Professor ‘taal en diversiteit’ aan de vakgroep Taalkunde van de Universiteit Gent. Hij is ook medewerker van het onderzoekscentrum ‘Diversiteit & Leren (SDL)’, verbonden aan dezelfde Universiteit. Hij heeft jarenlange expertise op het terrein van diversiteit, taal en sociale ongelijkheid in onderwijs. Zijn expertise en onderzoeksinteresses omvatten onder andere: meertaligheid in onderwijs, kansarmoede en sociale ongelijkheid in onderwijs, taalbeleid en -praktijk in onderwijs, taalbeleid en -praktijk in contexten van (sociale) inclusie, taal assessment, diversiteit en inclusie, integratie en participatie, discriminatie in onderwijs.

Abstract To be presented

“Multilingualism, language of schooling and equity in education in Europe. How to move beyond binaries?”

Since the first 2000 PISA findings, we know that socio-ethnic inequality in education is a tenacious and persistent problem in many European countries. In explaining this inequality, language (i.e. knowledge of the dominant language) is often presented by policy makers as the main – if not the only – causal factor. This incorrect causal interpretation has strongly impacted language policy making of the last 15 years in many European countries. For almost two decades knowledge of the dominant language has been seen as the main lever for school success. However, the recent 2018 PISA-data show that the inequality gap has not been reduced. On the contrary, social inequality in education seems to have grown in some European countries.
Independent of the fact that schools, as social and learning spaces, are multilingual and although there is no empirical evidence for the effectiveness of an exclusive L2 submersion model, many European countries maintain a monolingual policy, whereby children have to be submersed in the dominant language as a condition for school success. This often leads to school policies and classroom practices where children’s multilingual repertoires are banned, not exploited and where children are sometimes being reproved or even punished for using their multilingual repertoire in daily school and classroom interaction.
In this paper, I will discuss the counterproductive effects of excluding children’s multilingual repertoires in education. I will argue for a policy and classroom practices where multilingualism and the acquisition of the language of schooling can be interwoven in addressing mechanisms of social inequality.