Language laggards


Writing a column about the English skills at the TU/e is as innovative as the Ipad 3. But I can’t stand it anymore: The English that is spoken by some lecturers originates from the Dutch farmland and is familiar to the enjoyable sound of fingernails scraping chalkboard.

Intonation is thought of as a form of musical art, not part of regular speech. And to make matters worse: all freshmen are forced to sit and listen to these impaired Anglicans. I think we’re going to lose our top university rank next year.

Teaching in English merely consists of blurting out various technical concepts and arranging them quite randomly in a sentence, to the extent that the teachers just stand there and watch their own sentence and muse the audience to read it themselves. Can’t we just politely ask all teachers, albeit with brute insistence, to follow a language course? Or is the gifbeker bigger than we think?

An article in the last Cursor celebrated the founding of our first international student association. Wow, so soon! After 56 years, we have fallen behind big time and have a student share of mainly Southern Nederlanders. Internationalisation and interest in international students has been scarce and the initiative should originate from them. The Common Room is a start, but it must improve.

I encountered how it should be done, remarkably, in Prague, in Česká republika! On 4 October I visited the Czech Technical University and attended a presentation of their international student association. They unmistakably pointed out the importance of attention for their international students and had introduced a 1-on-1 (or 2) buddy system. Each foreign student received a Czech student to familiarise themselves with Prague, the Czech Republic and the university. But most importantly, there’s mutual language teaching: in English, Czech and their native language.

By learning through involved friends, one’s motivation is much higher. And it’s a lot cheaper! The TU/e language courses were cut, but we can learn DIY! All students and mainly lecturers: grab a buddy, perhaps become friends and stop lagging your English development. Senk Joe! 

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