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    Debate about English at TU/e
    “No one died yet by speaking too many languages”
    31 maart 2011 - Cracking the joke ‘I heet you very welcome’, Lucas Asselbergs (head of Studium Generale) kicked off the debate about the English language at TU/e. Some fifty staff members and students voiced their opinions last week in the Auditorium - in English, that is. Although advocates of Anglicization formed a majority, it also became clear that there is still a lot of work to be done.

    The strategic plan for Campus 2020 states the ambition to make English the second language at TU/e. The attendees of the debate differed as to the way in which and the extent to which this should be done.

    The first proposition that all Bachelor and Master programs should be taught in English is discussed extensively straight away. A Master student thinks that all lectures should just be in English. “Surely the university’s slogan ‘Where Innovation starts’ should not be a hollow phrase? It would be an asset for the university if we took the lead in this.”

    A maths lecturer, on the other hand, anticipates a great deal of trouble for such a change. “I would consider it a very bad idea to introduce this for the Bachelor programs. I am noticing that I have to employ full sail to get students to reach the desired level. Teaching the subject matter in English would only take extra time and energy.” A female student of Industrial Design gains support when observing that it would be good for students to get more help with their English, particularly to brush up their writing skills further.

    The proposition that all students should be obliged to follow a Dutch course is one step too far, according to most. TU/e should facilitate this, but it would not be good to impose such an obligation. A foreign student is all for learning Dutch: “No one died yet by speaking too many languages”.

    While the foreign students attending find it practical to know a few words of Dutch, they also feel the need to be informed in English. As things are now, they often feel excluded because they cannot read e-mails or because some lectures are presented in Dutch. A student of Industrial Design sees the bonus of working in a group including both Dutch and foreign students, so that they can learn from each other.

    Various staff members and students conclude that it is not only a matter of brushing up their knowledge of Dutch of English, implying that a change in attitude is at least as important to attain the status of an international university. (JvG)