The UiL OTS Language & Communication research group


Having meetings without speaking the same language? Use the Toolkit Multilingual Meetings!

[September 30, 2021]

We have a lot of meetings at the university, but how do you tackle this as an international team? Do you switch to English? What do you do when not everybody feels comfortable with this? In the Toolkit Multilingual Meetings, on the basis of seven animated knowledge clips, it is explained how you can have multilingual meetings.

A Dutch co-worker did not have the courage to state that she was uncomfortable using English and stayed quiet all throughout the meeting. She also knew that her international co-worker could not speak Dutch. Therefore, English was soon chosen as the language of communication. English can be a solution for a having a meeting with co-workers who have different linguistic backgrounds, but you can opt for having multilingual meetings as well.


In multilingual meetings, conversation partners speak a different language, but they can understand each other because of their listening skills. This way, an international employee can speak English and a Dutch-speaking employee can respond to this in Dutch. This is also known as ‘Luistertaal (Lingua Receptiva)’. According to Jan ten Thije, professor Intercultural Communication and coordinator of the project Multilingualism & Participation (M&M-project), this form of multilingualism offers several advantages: “This way, everybody can speak a language that they feel comfortable with. Often, this eliminates fear of speaking, it increases the quality of a meeting, and it promotes the involvement of participants.” This contributes to the (linguistic) diversity and inclusion within the UU.

Research project 

The M&M-project researches how universities can deal with multilingualism. The project has been created to guide the university council of Utrecht and other participation councils (faculty boards, education committees, etc.) with the participation of international students and employees. With the use of authentic situations, the Toolkit Multilingual Meetings has been developed.

More information 

Have you become excited to start working on this yourself, or do you just want to know more? Then, take a look at the Toolkit Multilingual Meetings. In addition to the toolkit, a special receptive Dutch course (B1-C1) has been developed for international members of participation councils. In this course you will learn everything about the Dutch meeting culture, administrative language, and how you can use luistertaal to have multilingual meetings.