Isabella Stefanutti, Head of the Foreign Languages Centre, Skills Centre, recently attended the XXII Wulkow Meeting of Directors of Language Centres in Higher Education in Europe with the help of a Teaching Development Fund (TDF) Travel Fund award.
The name of the meeting explains clearly what it is: an occasion for Language Centre Directors in European universities to meet, exchange good practice and learn from each other. It takes place in Wulkow, a remote village in the German countryside, situated between Berlin and the Polish border. This remoteness offers the perfect place for working together, as there are no external distractions.
"...all conversations were relevant to my area of work and to what the Skills Centre (Foreign Languages) is trying to achieve, and all colleagues were fantastically well-prepared."
The topic of this year’s meeting was Multilingualism in Academia, which is very relevant to working in an international university like ours. During the three days in Wulkow we attended presentations and workshops, and looked at multilingualism from many different perspectives. Discussions revolved around several areas, including the inevitability of using English as a lingua franca in academia, as well as how such practice deprives disciplines of important research and work. We looked at the work carried out at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, which is at the forefront of the creation of on-line language courses. We also looked at language policy in Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland, and talked about the link between intercultural competence and language competence, with amazing examples of work completed by Masaryk University, the University of Weimar and Aalto University. I could tell more, but suffice to say that all conversations were relevant to my area of work and to what the Skills Centre (Foreign Languages) is trying to achieve, and all colleagues were fantastically well-prepared.
I was inspired by the attendance to this event and I have learned a lot. I have also developed my network, getting to know well-educated colleagues at the forefront of their field, who are also extremely nice. Two of them will come to Bath for the International Staff Week organised by the International Relations Office. If interested, maybe you can meet them too!
Isabella Stefanutti, Head of the Foreign Languages Centre, Skills Centre