More multilingualism

Further to my post about living in a multilingual society: at the Turku School of Economics, there are multilingual business communication courses. It’s a language course, but instead of focusing on only one language, students use two or even three languages in class. Right now the available combinations are German/Swedish, German/Swedish/English, and French/German/English. There is one instructor per language in class and the activities move in and out of each language as needed. It’s not that everything is repeated three times, once in each language; rather, most things are said only once or only repeated briefly in one of the other languages. Students are expected to cope – and keep up!

I sat in on one of the classes recently and it just made me smile for joy the whole time. I only know a few words of Swedish (from survival/passive observation when we first moved here and I didn’t speak any Finnish but could understand some written Swedish thanks to studying German years ago), and the idea of studying languages as similar as German and Swedish in one class makes my rummage-bin language brain rattle a bit in fear. But these students! They battled through it so well. Sometimes they can choose which language they use, but other times certain activities must be completed in a certain language. Then they have homework assignments where they answer questions in whichever language they choose, as long as they write equally in each language overall throughout the assignment.

A course like this looks like the future to me – multilingualism and code-switching as the norm! I'm adding this one to the list of courses I wish I could have taken as an undergrad.

The nicest winter

The nicest winter

March 16th, outsourced