tommus wrote:English versus Dutch in education in the Netherlands and Belgium
There seems to be ever increasing concern that the Dutch language is being replaced by English in the education systems of the Netherlands and Belgium, especially for science education in universities. At the Master's level, and especially for PhDs, not only are the research and dissertations in English, but essentially all of the instruction is conducted in English. Presentations by researchers at international conferences are increasingly and overwhelmningly being done in English. So to be competitive in research and in the international job market, doesn't it make sense to get educated in English? Some say that being instructed in higher education in a language other than your mother tongue (in this case Dutch) puts students at a disadvantage. They don't understand English as well as Dutch. Most of their instructors are teaching in the instructor's second language. The fact that English is so widespread in university instruction in the Netherlands and Belgium makes it easy to attract thousands of international students, providing a very significant income stream for universities.
There are tons of articles on the Internet in Dutch about this situation. Here are three:Voer het debat over de Nederlandse taalVerengelsing hoger onderwijsEngels of Nederlands in het wetenschappelijk onderwijs
Is the Dutch language deteriorating? Should English be established as an official second language? Should there be laws about how much instruction schools and universities can conduct in English? What is the effect that TV, movies, books, the Internet, education, etc. is having on how quickly English is becoming a lingua franca in Dutch-speaking countries? What does the future hold?
I associate a lot of my own fear of the deterioration of European languages and cultures with the spread of English. To me it seems that the more the education system converts to English in place of the local language, the more risk there is of the local language becoming less and less relevant. Already English dominates international meetings, science research and in higher education it is ever expanding. In the hunt for more profits, organisation with rely on attracting foreign investment, students, input are placing more and more importance on English. There has to be a legal line drawn at some point if one is to protect their local languages and not render them less and less relevant in more and more spheres of life. I don't blame organisations, such as universities wanting to attract foreign students, but a line must be drawn.
If not, I do feel that Europe in 100 years (maybe less, maybe a lot more) could be an English dominated continent, in which the populations of various countries are ever more mobile and simply see it as impractical to 'turn back the clock' and ensure their 'archaic' languages remain in use or protected. Where Frisian, Breton, Occitan and other languages are today, will be where Dutch, French, Norwegian etc will be down the track if we don't put a limit on the expansion of English.
One little addition after another with eventually break the camel's back, and the spread of English in Belgium and the Netherlands higher education are just more of those steps. Science and research being dominated by English means it's 'only natural' that those in non-English speaking countries get a better grip on English earlier to be able to be competitive down the track when it comes to doing their own research. But how long before almost all students everywhere just use English because it's the language of instruction and there are so many international students? How long before then the demand in books, TV and other forms of media in English skyrockets, while local European languages relevance becomes dismal? How long before English just becomes the default language in the home in these countries starting first with major cities (financial districts, where populations are much more mixed in terms of other nationalities).
I do not see a healthy future for practically all languages (Europe at present more so than elsewhere), if we do not take strong measures to protect them against the rush towards globalisation. Despite what the powers that be keep telling us about free-trade, globalisation and the like, I for one, and never in agreement. The future is boring, multinational dominated and the colour is all but faded.