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More parallel, please! Best practice of parallel language use at Nordic Universities: 11 recommendations (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2018)

Last Updated: 8 Apr 2019

Traduit de l'anglais, tradotto dall'inglese, traducido del inglés, aus dem Englischen übersetzt mit www.DeepL.com


Best practice of parallel language use at Nordic Universities:
11 recommendations

Summary and policy perspective

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The wave of globalisation sweeping the university sector is the main catalyst for the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Parallel Language Group. Higher education and research are increasingly multilingual activities that require highly developed language policies. In this report, the Group sets out 11 recommendations on the use of local and international languages at universities in the Nordic Region. They are presented in full in Chapter 3 and discussed in more depth in Chapter 4. In brief, they are that:

1. Every university should have a language policy.

2. Every university should have a language policy committee.

3. Every university should have a language centre.

4. Staff recruited abroad should be offered courses in the teaching language, common speech and language for special purposes.

5. Various categories of students should be offered language courses, following needs analyses.

6. Lecturers and researchers should be offered language courses, following needs analyses.

7. Universities should choose their teaching languages based on the principles of parallel language use and the “international classroom”.

8. University language policies should also cover the language used in the administration.

9. The universities should monitor and regularly reassess the choice of language for publications.

10. University language policies should also cover the language used in dissemination of knowledge, outreach and external communication activities.

11. Language policies should include developing digital language-support resources at every university.

The quality of education and research at the universities depends on the ability of students, researchers and lecturers to develop the requisite language skills for advanced, internationally competitive intellectual work. As such, they will almost always need to be multilingual. However, this cannot be taken for granted. Rather, they need to be given organised, external support based on meticulous needs analyses.

In a globalised world, universities and higher education institutions need to be inclusive. This applies to ordinary students with an incomplete command of academic language, students studying in their own country but whose native language is not the main language of the country concerned, migrants, exchange students and guest students. It also applies to international researchers and other researchers who find themselves in what may, in many ways, be an alien environment.

As society’s most important institutions for the production and communication of new knowledge, universities have a democratic duty to maintain and develop scientific dialogue, both in international research circles and with broad groups of citizens. This requires multifaceted linguistic competencies.

It is also worth noting that well-developed policies for parallel language use across the Region will generate substantial Nordic synergies. The Nordic universities are based in countries where the principal languages are medium-sized by international standards, but highly developed, and where English is spoken at a high level in universities and elsewhere. Business is conducted both in the local language and in English. As such, the conditions for parallel language use at Nordic universities are exceptionally good. In comparison with the Group’s observations elsewhere in Europe, the Nordic debate on parallel language use appears to be advanced. Nordic exchanges of experience, guidelines and, in many cases, Nordic skills-development and resource- building programmes mean that the Region could relatively easily become a world leader in this growing field. Given the framework imposed by globalisation, parallel language use is also important for developing the Nordic language community.

Chapter 1 accounts for the work of the Group and outlines the background for it; Chapter 2 explains key terminology and concepts; Chapter 3 sets out the 11 recommendations in full; and Chapter 4 discusses each of the recommendations and the reasoning behind them.