Organisatie - 5 februari 2009


When I first arrived in Wageningen I was surprised by the number of different languages you can pick up on the streets. I knew Wageningen University was international but that the majority of master students actually came from another country or continent was thrilling. Was this not part of the reason I wanted to study here? Look beyond your own nose and culture, as we would say in Dutch.
The first shock came when I discovered most of the textbooks in the first year of the BSc course were in Dutch. Why not start in English from the beginning? But this wasn’t the point I wanted to make here actually. During my first few periods I had some spare time, so I decided to fill it with something I might want to use in the future. I decided to learn a language. Because isn’t it handy that you at least can present yourself in a different language? And what better place than Wageningen? So I looked up the Language Services of Wageningen UR and went along to their office. ‘Hey there, I want to learn a language, what do you have to offer?’ To my astonishment, the women at the desk answered: ‘Dutch, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. But the Portuguese course is cancelled for this year and the Spanish course is already booked up till May.’
First of all, I was surprised that they only teach fíve languages, three of which I have already learnt. Second, I was surprised that there was actually no opportunity for me to learn a new language. And third: are there only five languages in the world? Can’t you at least organize a Japanese, Swedish or Chinese course? I asked the women at the desk and she answered: ‘The University is limiting its funding of the centre, but you can also go to the Volksuniversiteit, although it will cost you a bit more.’
I don’t know if all this is true, but I hope not. Isn’t it the task of the uni to give us the opportunity to learn a new language so we can use it in the ‘big’ world and be well prepared to work internationally. I would like a response from the uni, because I was shocked by this fact. And so are you, I hope!
After this, I started looking for some other options, and luckily there are a couple. I can learn two more languages with the help of volunteers from ISOW, and of course I can ask a foreign student to teach me. But I will say that it is thanks to the students that the university is multilingual, and not thanks to a good language institute at the university.