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Universities, governments and businesses have to commit to multilingualism to adapt to the challenges of globalization
[18/10/2012]
European universities have to make a greater commitment to multilingualism as it enhances student creativity and competitiveness. This means that not only must they make better use of existing ICT tools to aid learning and online work in different languages, but they should also consider developing these technologies. This is one of the principal conclusions of the European Union funded EUNoM project, which the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, UOC) has been coordinating for three years and in which numerous European universities and acclaimed international experts have participated. The final recommendations are being presented to the European Parliament today, which will mark the culmination of the project.

 

According to Miquel Strubell, director of the UOC Chair in Multilingualism and coordinator of EUNoM, the academic project also recommends that:
- Universities refocus on multilingualism and multiculturalism as strategic challenges and values.

 

- The agents of the so-called triple helix of university, industry and government be aware of the importance of multilingualism to improve their competitiveness in the present context of globalization and the knowledge economy, in contrast with the growing trend of establishing a uniform model with English as the dominant lingua franca.
- In order to create alternatives to this monolingual model, universities foster research into the different models of multilingualism that can act as a more efficient cornerstone for their syllabuses and online language learning.
- Universities make business and entrepreneurs understand that these multicultural learning models will help them attract more creative talent and, in particular, provide them with a greater ability to understand their respective national markets.

With regard to the need to develop the technologies required to be able to work in online multilingual work environments, underlined by these final recommendations, Miquel Strubell added that “it is a field in which the UOC could lead the research, given the knowledge that it has gained over 15 years of teaching with these types of ICT tools. The experience acquired in bilingual virtual classrooms should be extended to new language combinations and trilingual classrooms with the tools that we have been developing for computer-assisted translation.”

The conclusions to the EUNoM Project also highlighted the need to “bring together leading specialists” in order to refocus language learning and teaching in light of social and global changes and “to undertake in-depth research into the role of language in creativity and associated skills”.

With this in mind, the UOC Chair in Multilingualism plans to design an ambitious research project funded by the EU under the title ‘The multilingual challenge for the European citizen’, which will carry out a cross-disciplinary study of all the implications on all levels arising from this new sociocultural context and how best to respond to these implications.

 

 
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