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Language Centre
Language Centre Our approach

Views on language teaching

Our lessons are based on the following didactic principles and pillars. This is how we ensure effective language teaching.

Didactic principles

Didactic principles of language teaching

  • Language of instruction = target language: The target language, i.e. the language that the participants want to learn, is used as the language of instruction.
  • Language teaching is as concrete and applicable as possible. In courses for specific groups, the content must dovetail with situations that the participants will face in the new language.
  • Language is a communication instrument. Being able to communicate in the relevant language is what matters most.
  • The aims of language teaching are described in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).
  • Pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar are not goals in themselves but are used as tools to enhance the students’ communication skills.


  • The student should be at the centre of the educational process.
  • The student must have an active learning attitude and an active role in the educational process.
  • Students are responsible for their own learning process.
  • Students should reflect on their own learning process, using instruments such as DIALANG, the CEFR, a portfolio or personal learning objectives.


  • The teacher must let the students work as actively as possible during contact hours.
  • The teacher must organize the lessons in such a way that the students are given an active role in the educational process.
  • Teachers should use teaching methods that stimulate an active learning attitude in students, for example cooperative learning and peer assessment.
  • The teacher’s use of language must be correct and must match the students’ level.
  • The teacher speaking time amounts to about 30% of the teaching time; students should do the talking during the other 70%.
  • Teachers should make students aware of what learning a language involves: they should help students to reflect on their own learning process and stimulate a critical attitude towards this process.
  • Teachers must enable students to apply what they have learnt in meaningful situations.
  • Teachers should act as sounding boards. They should provide feedback in line with the CEFR, correct students’ questions and remarks by repeating them correctly and ask test questions.
  • Teachers should respond to the diversity within groups (different learning styles, learning objectives, backgrounds).
  • Teachers must have a clear course plan and lesson plan in mind, discuss the importance of the aims and activities with the students and provide regular feedback about this.
  • Teachers must stimulate independent and semi-independent learning, for example by providing advice on language learning outside contact hours, offering extra exercises, giving feedback, providing links to high-quality websites and communicating in the target language even outside contact hours.

Fellow students

  • Fellow students play an active role in the language-learning process.
  • Students and fellow students must take an active role and attitude when using working methods where cooperation is involved, such as peer assessment and cooperative learning, in both online and in-person teaching activities.

Contact time

  • The teacher contact time must be optimally used; lessons will only include activities that actually need a teacher to be present.

Online learning environment

  • The Language Centre offers a broad range of both online and on-location courses. The extensive University online learning environment supports both participants and teachers during our courses and serves as a learning and communication resource.
  • The University online learning environment is not only used in lectures but also in our general group courses and, where possible and desirable, in specific courses.
  • In online teaching, the extensive University range of online tools is also used, whereby principles like collaborative learning and mutual assessment are safeguarded.
The 5 pillars of effective language teaching

1. Europe / The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

The Language Centre uses the CEFR, the Common European Framework of Reference for language proficiency levels developed by the Council of Europe. This framework provides clarity on the interpretation of language proficiency levels across Europe, and increasingly outside Europe as well. In addition, the framework enables language learners to determine their existing and desired level by answering a number of questions about language use in specific situations. It also enables our teachers to use clear, uniform standards in their courses and tests. We regularly organize refresher training sessions for our teachers to ensure that everyone uses the same standards and assessment criteria. Our standard and tailored language tests are always related to this framework.

2. Experiences / Reflection

We encourage language learners to find their own most effective learning style. We ask them to regularly reflect on their learning process and ask themselves how they can most effectively learn and what motivates them most. Reflection on their own learning will result in better awareness of their learning process. This method increases the chances of effective language acquisition continuing after the course.

3. Individuals / Autonomy

Learning a language involves a lot of independent study. We help students develop an independent way of working. This is important, as the teacher plays only a minor role in the language learning process – it is at least as important to actively use the language yourself, to learn from your mistakes and to learn from others. We try to help our students actively work with the language, outside the classroom in particular.

4. Possibilities / A rich learning environment

We offer language learners a rich learning environment. The teacher guides the way and structures the learning process, and the student practises, learns and reflects. Our course material consists not only of textbooks, we also offer our students a wealth of online exercises, texts, videos, tips and tricks to help them improve the aspects that they find most important. Web 2.0 technology and media such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter, video conferencing , various apps, YouTube and MOOCs greatly enrich our language teaching.

5. The situation / Context-related

Our clients have a specific need, with a specific aim, in a specific context. Examples include ‘to be able to follow an English-taught Medicine degree programme’, ‘to be able to hold merger discussions in German with a German colleague in the car industry’, ‘to be able to welcome a Chinese trade delegation to the Netherlands’ and ‘to have a brochure translated’. The aims and context are discussed before the start of the assignment, and we will tailor our offer to them in the best possible way. Even tests can be related to the context in which the language is to be used. In such cases we will opt for a specific language assessment.

Last modified:13 July 2023 08.35 a.m.
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