The Linguist

The Linguist 53,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Vol/53 No/4 2014 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 27 FEATURES language modules, usually for 10 credits per semester, and Queen Mary University of London has recently approved a College Language Scheme that enables students to study 30 credits (or equivalent) of a language for free, either as part of their degree or in addition to their degree. According to Jonathan Bunt, Undergraduate Programme Director for Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester: "A lot of students take a language as an 'add-on' course, and we have a number of programmes offering languages 'with' rather than 'and' another subject. I get students who do 80 credits in maths and 40 in Japanese, for example. The only issue is a timetabling one – and we patch and mend and make it work." This kind of course is "usually for students who are torn between two subjects, so they tend to have thought very hard about what they want," he adds. Students with diverse interests can bring refreshing approaches to learning. "Japanese can provide different sorts of challenges to other languages, but we sometimes find that maths, music and sciences students, in particular, can clamber over those walls. I often look for an ability to learn facts and details as an indicator of ability in Japanese," says Bunt. "There's a project I'm quite keen on, where students produce independent learning portfolios as part of their language study, and I notice that the students doing 'with' courses often find quite unexpected and interesting websites and resources to work with." Such students are likely to embark on international careers after they graduate. Recognising the increasingly global nature of certain sectors, the University of Cambridge established a Language Unit specifically for its Engineering Department 20 years ago, which continues to function in tandem with the university's broader Language Centre. Students can take a language for free, either for-credit or not-for-credit. "For our students, language is about mobility. Being able to communicate in another language is particularly helpful, as engineers often work for international companies," says its Director, David Tual. "We have a very high take-up. Having a language unit specifically for the engineering department sends a message to students: it shows that we take language-learning THE RIGHT BALANCE Students tend to think hard about their choices before selecting a language 'with' another subject Students doing 'with' courses often find quite unexpected and interesting resources to work with seriously and that we want them to become leaders in an international context." Courses focus on the languages engineers might use, including French, German, Spanish and Chinese, and "incorporate language that's geared, content-wise, to engineers". This is true of many 'with' courses, says Byrne. "The language component is meaty and usually includes subject-specific vocabulary. These courses are tailormade. We can adjust to fit." That is eminently palatable to students, who see graduates struggling to find jobs in an increasingly saturated market. "I think about my career prospects afterwards," explains Dudaite. "Employers seem to want a language always, so I hope that having Italian will improve my chances." Overall, these flexible ways of adding language study to non-language degrees are a great success story, says Byrne. "We must celebrate the tens of thousands of people at universities doing languages in a different way." He concludes: "The magic word is 'with'. That preposition will lead us into the next decade. Its message is that language is for everybody, and that anybody can access it in a way that suits them, either in terms of their study or their desired career. This, I think, is the way of the future." © THINKSTOCK © THINKSTOCK

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