Teaching staff should improve their English

Student organization SOG and student council party Calimero believe that the teaching staff’s English is frequently not up to standard. A higher level is needed, they say.

International students sometimes experience problems during their exams. ‘Some students struggle with understanding some questions during exams, which can cause very big problems’, Alexandra Crisan, the international representative of student organization SOG, explains. ‘We are asking for mastery of English by teaching staff because we want the best and since the University is striving for the best, students deserve the best too.’

According to SOG, an English proficiency test should be obligatory for every staff member, unless they already have a C1 certificate, have previously taught at an English or American university, or if they are a native speaker. If a lecturer fails the language test, they should attend a language course paid for by their faculty.

At the moment there are no regulations concerning proficiency in English for university staff, says Crisan. ‘As a result, international students may be put off further study at Groningen. Also, students may not be benefiting from lessons as much as they should.’

No common agenda

As a top 100 university, Crisan believes Groningen should set standards in English proficiency for its teaching staff that match those required of students. ‘With no common agenda, each faculty is able to set its own.’

SOG is not alone in its concerns. Student council party Calimero also believes that lecturers should be tested. ‘An English test for lecturers should be included in the University Teaching Qualification’, says Calimero representative Hannelore Vanderveen.

Calimero also wants to create a greater sense of international integration within the University. ‘Internationalization is not just about translating Dutch into English – lecturers should also be culturally aware’, Vanderveen says. ‘They should achieve cultural diversity by not only looking at a problem from a Dutch perspective, but also from an international perspective.’

No changes yet

Calimero’s plans were greeted enthusiastically by the University Board. However, while Vanderveen hopes that Calimero’s proposals will be introduced as soon as possible, the Board will not be making any changes just yet.

SOG’s plans have also been welcomed. Frans Zwarts, a former Rector of the University of Groningen and current Chair of the Language Policy Task Force, is in ‘full agreement’ with SOG’s campaign. ‘It is the only way to achieve the ambitious internationalization goals that the University of Groningen has set itself’, he says.

You can download and read SOG’s full report into achieving mastery of English here.
Follow this link to read Calimero’s report (in Dutch!)