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A language guide!? Why?

The LAKS board of ’22-’23 has started to create a language guide. With this guide, we draw attention to language use in education and what effects language can have. Language has the power to exclude people and to reinforce stereotypes and prejudices. How we talk about certain topics and what words we use to do so is very important because it determines how we see and talk about the world.

The language guide consists of two different parts. In one section, we focus on language used in policy. For example, words like “high and low educated,” “leveling up and down,” and “disadvantaged student” are sometimes used in policy documents, such as reports. The LAKS believes these words should be changed. For example, the term “high educated and low educated” conjures up the idea that one education is better than another, whereas LAKS believes that educations should be valued equally. Therefore, name as much as possible exactly what you mean – are you talking about people with a wo, hbo or mbo educational background? For the same reason, we prefer to speak of “educational disciplines” rather than “educational levels.”

The other section deals with language use in the classroom. For example, how do you ensure that gender-sensitive language is used in the classroom? For example, are pronouns ever asked or is the class divided into “boys and girls”? Is the colonial and slavery history of the Netherlands discussed in class? And what words do teachers and students use to talk about it? The classroom should be a safe place for all students. With this section of the language guide, we want to draw attention to that.

Want to join the conversation?
The language guide is never finished! Language is constantly evolving, so we make sure our language guide changes with it. Do you have ideas for our language guide? Would you like to see a word changed or do you have additions? Then get in touch   with us!

If you have questions about the language guide or ideas for a topic, please email LAKS:

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