[lg policy] English is also the informal language at Computer Science

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed May 15 12:29:47 EDT 2019

English is also the informal language at Computer Science
14 / 05 / 2019 | Rik Visschedijk <https://www.utoday.nl/about#rik>

Teachers and students of the Computer Science bachelor's and master's
degree programs now have stricter guidelines for the use of the English
language. They are expected to communicate in English during breaks, even
if there are no people of other nationalities around. The faculty council
has questions about this new code.

English as a formal language and where possible, but keep on talking Dutch
at the coffee machine, that is the current UT language policy
a nutshell. But Arend Rensink, program director at Computer Science, asks
more of his teachers and students. He recently sent his own guidelines to
them. ‘My experience is that not everyone is aware of how we approach each
other and where things go wrong,’ he says. ‘My position is that we are a
fully English-speaking university. It is fitting that we speak English to
each other, so that people can participate in a conversation at any time.’
No language police

The consequence of the new guideline is that students in, for example,
working groups speak English, even if that group consists of Dutch people
only. ‘The point is that we should not look around us to see if there are
other nationalities in the room. We should always and intrinsically speak
English to each other,’ says Rensink. ‘Of course I will not be there to
check and there will not be a language police either. I outline an ideal in
this guideline. In addition, I know very well that exceptions will occur.
But the general message stands.’
Faculty council has questions

The faculty council of EEMCS is divided about the code of conduct at
Computer Science and will have a discussion with Dean Joost Kok, says board
member Sebastiaan Joosten. ‘Some of the members completely agree with the
idea behind the code, but there are also question marks about the sharp
edges. Because in practice you will of course not check if people speak
Dutch at the coffee machine. We were unable to reach a consensus in our
meeting. We have therefore decided to discuss this code of conduct with
Dean Joost Kok.’

Rensink is continuing his language policy. ‘International students have
said on several occasions that they feel excluded or disadvantaged,’ he
says. ‘That can happen because of very trivial things. For example, in the
past we offered several test exams in Dutch and we translated one into
English. You think: we are doing well. But the internationals rightly feel
disadvantaged. They only have one practice exam. At first I was not aware
of that either. That is why I think we should be more explicit in our
language policy.’


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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