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Even more English skills needed at Nordic unis

If they are to be just as effective in English as in their own language, both teachers and students should boost their skills, argues a new report by Nordic language professors

Nordics in higher education need to learn more English. This is the conclusion language researchers draw in a new report published by the Nordic Network for Parallel Language Policy.

The current trend in Nordic higher education is including more and more lectures in English instead of universities’ native tongue. Despite Nordics’ relative proficiency in English, grasping complicated an ideas in a foreign language can still be a challenge, which makes it necessary more support for English, the report argues.

Educators have a hard time maintaining an informal atmosphere, as they feel less confident in their language abilities, and students are more withdrawn and less likely to participate, if they feel their language skills aren’t up to par, according to Frans Gregersen, a language researcher at University of Copenhagen, and co-author of the report. According to a study of Swedish universities, it takes lecturers 25 per cent more time to prepare content in English than in their native languages.

See the site with links to the reports here.

English at any cost

“Researchers are used to gathering knowledge in English, but disseminating this knowledge is a different matter. It can be challenging to be as qualified in English as in one’s mother tongue”, Frans Gregersen says.

In general, universities’ leadership is aware of the challenges presented by teaching in English.

“There is no doubt that in the future, English will only become more prevalent in teaching at Danish universities. If more funds and courses are necessariy, we must obtain them. As far as foreign students are concerned, I would rather be certain that their English level is on par, before they come to Denmark”, Jens Oddershede, rector at University of Southern Denmark.

Let’s not forget Danish

Marianne Jelved, Minister of Culture sees the problems universities currently face when teaching in English. Danes should not be excluded from the conversation.

“In general, a university shouldn’t offer a course in English, unless the lecturer is qualified in delivering the lecture in English. Regardless of the university’s primary goal – to teach, research, or disseminate information – researchers should be able to communicate at a high level in both English and Danish”, said Marianne Jelved to Kristeligt Dagblad.

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