ACA European Policy Seminar: „Teaching in English: A blessing or a curse?“, Brussels, 4 December 2014

A rare phenomenon at the turn of the century, English-medium instruction (EMI) has become a systemic feature in some European countries, particularly at the Master level. Even though the growth curve now shows signs of flattening, English-taught programmes have become immensely numerous and popular in the last 15 years. This ACA European Policy Seminar will present, amongst other things, the key findings of ACA`s latest (2014) Europe-wide surveys of this form of tuition. There are some surprises in store.

But this is only one item on the seminar`s agenda: In an opening presentation, Adrian Veale of the European Commission will tackle the difficult question which language - or languages - Europe`s new global outreach strategy ("Europe in the world") should use to attract the world`s young talents to our continent`s universities and colleges.

Are English-taught programmes an advisable means to attract international students who would not dare to study in the domestic language, or are those critics right who view them as a form of tuition where students who do not understand English are taught by staff who do not master it? In other words: is English medium tuition a blessing or a curse? A good deal of the seminar programme addresses such linguistic quality issues, and in a `hands-on` manner. Karen M. Lauridsen, of Aarhus University, is presenting the results of the Europe-wide project Intluni, which seeks to improve communication in the class-room. Janina Cünnen, of the University of Freiburg in Germany, is going to present a new certificate for those teaching in English. Marjorie Castermans, of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, will showcase this university`s training measures for professors teaching in English.

The seminar will also address a danger often underrated: the lack of a minimum proficiency in the local language, which isolates international students once outside the classroom. This issue has consistently been identified as the biggest language challenge for foreign students in all ACA studies. We will present an example of good practice which addresses this problem.

The seminar will end with a provocative piece: a speech of by Ulrich Ammon, the highly reputed researcher in sociolinguistics and dialectology, who in later life turned his attention to the trend to publish and to teach in English. We expect him to make a strong case for a qualified form of multilingualism.

Click here for programme and registrations