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On August 4 2015, Theo van Els passed away at the age of 79. For more than 40 years he was the leading figure in Applied Linguistics in the Netherlands. He initiated the writing of the first handbook on Applied Linguistics together with his colleagues Guus Extra, Theo Bongaerts and Charles van Os. The Dutch version appeared in 1977 and an English translation in 1974 with Edward Arnold. Theo was active in many fields, but his main contribution was in the area of language policy and planning, and he was very actively involved in the development of European standards for language proficiency which ultimately led to the Common European Framework of Reference. He set up a large research program aimed at a language policy for foreign languages for the Dutch Ministry of education, which was later on applied in various other countries including Japan. 

Theo was a very dedicated colleague and advisor and many of the applied linguists in the Netherlands were his students. He was a warm and caring personality for whom the ‘human measure’ was more important than formalities. In addition he was active in AILA for many years and one of the founders of the Dutch Association of Applied Linguistics.  He will be remembered as one of the early leaders who gave Applied Linguistics a face and status as an independent discipline.

Kees de Bot

University of Groningen