Step by step
By the end of the summer, when we were finishing translating and updating our course into English, my fellow junior lecturers and I had made a transition to English ourselves. We were discussing in English, we were thinking in English and I even started dreaming in English (I happen to talk in my sleep and my significant other tells me in the morning exactly what I worry about…). We were ready for the new year.
But to transition to teaching in English is not just translating the content of your course to English, it turns out. As junior lecturers, we teach throughout the year and so we have nice overview of everything and everyone that students will come in contact with. We see the flow of the courses and where students in the past have had troubles. We see the overarching organizations involved in the study that need to adapt as well.
What do we call the study advisors? One of these is Gyrinus Natans – our study association. All of a sudden they have had to add a new translation in English to all their announcements. And they do. But sometimes it’s not so natural yet: it’s just so easy to forget to announce something in English when you are drinking a beer in the Tegenstelling and chatting with your friends in Dutch... Still – kudos! Because this transition seems to go quite smoothly!
For other adaptations we have had quite a challenge. Finding the appropriate English name, for example. What do we call the study advisors? Student advisors or academic advisors? Together with them, we have decided on the latter. And for those students who wish to speak with the academic advisors in their native language, they can. As long as that native language is Dutch or English.
There is also a lot of jargon surrounding the study. How do we call the BSA? Is ‘onderwijszaken’ the educational office? A WG: workshop or working group or workgroup? And so, we have made a list with the language we use, hoping to keep it consistent throughout the year. Hoping it will avoid confusion for the students.
Making the education international needs so much more than just translating the content to English. It needs extensive thinking of how this internationalizing will affect all layers of education. It needs acceptance of internationals in the student representation, for example. And thus changing that layer to an international, English speaking layer as well. As we have seen from Gyrinus, all students that now study are affected. So, when changing the teaching language to English, I think we need to accept that everyone involved is affected. And it needs anticipation and communication to prepare us all for that.