Frans Van Passel's work in the field of applied linguistics has had a crucial influence on the development of the subject for the last 30 years.
Born on 3 October 1926, he devoted his early professional life to general education before reading for and obtaining his university degree. He later spent a year in the United States as a Fulbright scholar and on his return received his dotorate of philosophy, based on a brilliant thesis on Dutch culture, from the University of Brussels in 1956.
Fascinated by the problems of active bilingualism, he established the famous AIMAV, the international association devoted to cross-cultural communication, and the audio-visual and structuro-global methods. As a pioneer he assisted in the development of departments of applied linguistics in several universities (Gent, Antwerp) and was instrumental in introducing projects devoted to phonetics, cultural identity, foreign language teaching.
His methodological essays and his study materials have been translated into more than 10 languages and are well known from Zagreb to New York. His name is linked with international initiatives such as the credit-unit system for the Council of Europe, and he has acted as consultant to UNESCO, to the Bureau for International Language Coordination, the Department of Foreign Affairs, TaalUnie, etc.
He began his distinguished career as head of department at the Royal Military Academy, where he taught logic and linguistics and where he is now Chairman. It was there that in 1956 he was asked to establish the first laboratory of applied linguistics in Europe, a laboratory which is now world famous.
At present he is working on the assessment of linguistic competences, and because of this his friends, disciples and colleagues wish to devote this reader to this subject.