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Expert in the Spotlight in 2011: Kutlay Yagmur

The expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and As.

Featured Expert / Area of focus

Kutlay YagmurKutlay Yagmur is associate professor at Tilburg University, Department of Culture Studies, The Netherlands. His expertise lies on bilingualism, linguistics, sociolinguistics and Turkish migrants.

Face to face with Kutlay Yagmur

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism?

I was trained as a foreign language teacher at Middle East Technical University, Ankara. During my postgraduate studies in Australia, I got more interested in minority language issues. I investigated language maintenance and shift of Turkish speakers in Sydney. Later on I was offered a job in Tilburg and for the last 15 years I have been teaching classes on Multilingualism and Education and as well as doing research on the same topic. My research has been mostly on immigrant groups but in cooperation with different colleagues I have done interesting research in other contexts, such as language use in Altai, Bashkortostan, Suriname and Mayotte (French overseas department). Together with G. Extra, our Multilingual Cities Project and the resulting book Urban Multilingualism is worth mentioning.

 
Urban Multilingualism in EuropeUrban Multilingualism In Europe: Immigrant Minority Languages At Home And School
by Guus Extra, Kutlay Yagmur (Editor)

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

I basically believe that institutional bodies do not have any right to impose their own language use beliefs and norms on minority language speakers. All the children have the right to interact with their mother in the language the mother prefers and speaks the best. There are no better languages; all languages serve the needs of its speakers. Having distorted value judgements about the value and status of different languages simply lead to marginalisation of certain groups in multilingual settings. The position of immigrant languages is quite telling in this respect. Some politicians believe these languages are not worth to use even in the domestic domain; let alone to be learned it in the school context. Changing this mindset is the challenge for us

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

Language Rich Europe
is the latest project I have been working on. Together with British Council and 20 European institutions, including Mercator Research Centre (Fryske Akademy), we have been developing a multilingualism index to illustrate the current situation in Europe. The project is very similar to migration integration index (MIPEX), which turned out to be very influential among policy makers. We will basically compare policies and practices against European Commission and Council of Europe standards in education, public services and spaces, business, media, and national language diversity documents and databases. We hope to raise awareness by presenting hard core evidence from 20 countries. By the spring of 2012, we will be able to present language profiles of each participating country.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

Guus Extra and I wrote a research manual on Language Rich Europe project which will be available soon in print. By early 2012, the results of the project will be published in 20 languages, including two immigrant languages; Turkish and Arabic. If readers want to get more information about the project, they can always visit the official website of the project or read articles on the project.

You will find more publications of Kutlay Yagmur via this link.

Do you have any questions on these topics?
Ask Kutlay

Featured topic

Our focus this month lies on immigrant languages