"Internationalisation needs multilingualism"

Photo of Professor Olaf Bärenfänger

Professor Olaf Bärenfänger, leader of the Action Line “Multilingual and Multicultural University", participated on 25th January in the DAAD podcast "Campus Europa", where he talked about the importance of multilingualism for students, professionals and researchers, about the Arqus café and about the activities of the seven universities within the Alliance.

“Multilingualism is a core skill that everyone needs in the globalised world. Considering universities in particular, there is no denying that language is a medium of learning, a medium of knowledge,” Professor Bärenfänger says in the podcast. The Arqus alliance also recognises this relevance, having made multilingualism one of its six priorities. Speaking different languages builds bridges (“arcus”). Herein lies the goal of Arqus.

To achieve successful cooperation in multilingualism, Professor Bärenfänger stresses the relevance of mobility, not only for students but for all people throughout universities. He argues that mobility offers people the opportunity to gain insights into new cultures and broaden their own horizons. What’s more, knowledge of local languages is also crucial for graduates seeking to enter the labour market.

According to Professor Bärenfänger, German universities still have some way to go with regard to genuinely promoting multilingualism. And this requires resources, transparent structures and specific actions. The Arqus partners are working together on these three factors and taking the actions they consider necessary. Just last year, Arqus launched the Arqus Café, a virtual space for students to have a moderated conversation, letting them work on their language skills while socialising.

Multilingualism is a core skill that everyone needs in the globalised world. Considering universities in particular, there is no denying that language is a medium of learning, a medium of knowledge

Professor Bärenfänger is also the Director of Leipzig University’s Language Center. In this podcast, he also provides an insight into his own personal experiences and describes the challenges the Arqus Alliance is facing.

DAAD is the German Academic Exchange Service, an independent organisation of German higher education institutions and their student bodies, devoted to internationalising the academic system. Their motto is "change by exchange".

Campus Europa is the name of the DAAD new podcast series presenting the European University alliances. The moderator, Anke Stahl, talks to representatives of German universities that are part of such alliances, focusing on their contributions to global challenges as well as their own experiences.

Listen to the podcast on Spotify or on YouTube.

Original news by Luise Hofmann.