[une traduction française suivra] Every year again, I explain my first year students in our first tutorial why I like working in Maastricht. For them, it sounds obvious: it is an attractive international university, its environment is surprisingly European and multilingual and its educational approach allows for interdisciplinarity and personal exchange with students, in a small scale setting.
But reflecting on these university practices, I acknowledge they are not obvious at all! I arrived in Maastricht in 1999 and worked for a number of years as Director of the University Language Centre. We had about 60 (part-time) staff, teaching 12 different languages to 8000 students every year – not easy in planning and logistics, staff recruitment and general management. It was particularly interesting to assist the Board of the University and the different Faculties with the introduction of English-Medium-Instruction: a profound change in the academic programmes and organization. This had implications as well for teaching Dutch (many more students!) and for teaching other foreign languages.
It was also very interesting, to see the transformation of the educational reality through the introduction of digital learning environments (with great advantages for language learning) and the revolutionary effects of internet and social media. But probably the most interesting dimension of this academic experience, was being in touch with the multilingual student population and with staff from many different countries. I experienced what it means working in more languages and developing multilingual academic profiles, often traveling between different countries and very diverse academic cultures.
Since 2007, I am teaching at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. I am involved in different bachelor and master programmes: European Studies, Arts & Culture, Arts & Heritage, Digital Culture… and of course I had my share in management support roles in a programme committee and the Board of Examiners. Not surprisingly, I continue working on languages, in particular by teaching European Language Policies in year 3 of European Studies and Academic Writing in year 1. I enjoy every day what I tell my first year students on their very first day: the privilege of working in an international academic environment, contributing to a surprising degree of multilingualism among our students, with the benefits of interdisciplinarity and the nice, intensive and small-scale setting of our educational approach.