Advice

On a bilingual campus, good communication in Dutch and English is of the essence. But when decisions have to be made concerning issues such as bilingual business operations and the language of instruction in degree courses, one often comes up against unexpected problems, often involving language. The Academic Language Programme (ALP) programme committee is keen to meet with educational programme directors and other staff who find themselves confronted by such language-related questions. We can offer expert advice in a number of areas, with the aim of supporting the implementation of VU language policy.

The switch from Dutch to English
One area relates to determining the role of Dutch or English in degree programmes. If a faculty decides to offer a whole degree, or an individual track, taught in English, then that involves a lot more than a simple translation exercise. You will have to formulate language learning outcomes, set up a staff support system, design a skills training curriculum and develop a set of summative and formative English language tests. And in the context of Dutch-taught degrees with specific learning outcomes for communicative skills, you will have to find answers to similar questions.

Practical challenges
Advice may also be valuable when it comes to developing teaching programmes for specific groups. The ALP can make a contribution to the design of course modules in pre-master programmes for HBO students who want to follow an English-taught master’s degree – we have already developed support material that can play a role in such modules. But we can also provide individual support to teachers who want to develop their language and didactic skills in an integrated fashion for use in the international classroom.

Bilingual business operations
Finally, language advice may be necessary when university bodies need to take decisions concerning bilingual communication processes. What are the communicative tasks of specific groups of support staff, and what are the components of their ideal training programme? What is the best way to organize translation and editing processes? Specialists from the ALP can play a useful role as language consultants on matters like these.

More information?
If you would like to discuss language policy issues within your faculty or service department, please contact the chairman of the ALP programme committee, Prof. Mike Hannay.