Round-table Discussion on Language Policy in Higher Education

02-24-2017 at 1:17 PM

On January 20, 2017 Lithuanian State Language Commission together with the Institute of Foreign Languages of Vilnius University (VU) and Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania (LTAL) had a round-table discussion “Language Policy in Higher Schools: Objectives, Needs, Benefits.”

The aim of the event was to bring together representatives of Lithuanian institutions of higher education and the Ministry of Education and Science, managers of foreign language institutes, heads of the departments of Lithuanian and other languages, professionals, and anyone interested in issues of language policy in the area of Lithuanian higher education in order to discuss language policy in the area of higher education in Lithuania.

The discussion was attended by assoc. prof. dr. Valdas Jaskūnas, VU vice rector for studies, assoc. prof. dr. Jurgita Šiugždinienė, vice rector for studies of Kaunas University of Technology (KUT), Egidijus Kinderis, president of VU Student Representation, Egidijus Zaikauskas, translation and language coordinator of the European Commission Representation in Lithuania, assoc. prof. dr. Daiva Vaišnienė, chairperson of Lithuanian State Language Commission, prof. dr. Roma Kriaučiūnienė, director of the Institute of Foreign Languages of Vilnius University, president of Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania, and representatives of a number of Lithuanian universities and colleges (KUT, VDU, LMSU MRU, VU, LEU, VGTU, VIKO).

The participants of the meeting shared their various experiences in teaching Lithuanian and foreign languages for specific purposes based on different language policy and managerial approach of institutions of higher education; they discussed quality of the teaching and learning of the academic Lithuanian language and professional foreign language studies, the relationship between Lithuanian and other languages at institutions of higher education, and surveyed the attitude of academic community towards the development of professional terminology in the mother tongue.The participants emphasized that institutions of higher education are not only to ensure the multilingual development, but also to warrant the sustainability and continuity of learners’ linguistic competences acquired at institutions of general education, thus increasing the capacity of university graduates to integrate into the multilingual and multicultural European labour market successfully.

The participants welcomed the four language model (mother tongue, state and two foreign languages) recommended by the European Union, the implementation of which depends upon creating favorable conditions by mutual commitment of all Lithuanian institutions of higher education. It was noted that universities should strengthen students’ motivation by increasing their awareness of the importance of the Lithuanian and foreign languages, as well as strengthen students’ ability to convey the acquired subject-specific knowledge on a high quality academic level in various professional multilingual and multicultural environments, thus building their capacity to produce professional academic texts in the Lithuanian and foreign languages.

The discussion ended with a unanimous decision to pursue a joint language policy among Lithuanian institutions of higher education ensuring the expansion of students’ mother tongue and other language competences on a high quality academic level.