Interview with Professor Remco Sleiderink
Campus Dean at the Faculty of Arts at KU Leuven in Brussels. He is an associate professor of medieval Dutch literature and focuses on old and new philology, multilingualism in the Southern Low Countries and on literary life at the court and in the city.
Beata Bruggeman-Sekowska: On September 23 KU Leuven in Brussels opened officially a completely new Polish programme in Applied Language Studies. Why did your University decide to start with Polish?
Until now it was not possible to study Polish in the domain of Applied Language Studies, focusing on translation and communication. By introducing Polish into the Brussels programme, we give students the opportunity to choose Polish as their object of study in combination with Dutch (at mother tongue level) and another European language (English, French or German). This combination of languages is unique in Belgium (and the Netherlands). At KU Leuven’s campus in Leuven Polish can be studied in combination with Russian (in the context of Slavic Studies). In the French-speaking part of the country Polish can only be studied at ULB, again as a part of a programme of Slavic Studies.
The programme is likely to become successful. Flanders, and Brussels in particular, is home to many youngsters with Polish roots who have a (near-)native command of Dutch and have also taken courses on English, French and German in secondary school. They have all it takes to start a programme of Applied Language Studies involving Polish, and subsequently enter the labour market. But we also expect to attract Flemish students without previous connections to Poland or the Polish language. The proficiency course in the first year will start from zero.
Why should you learn Polish? What are the benefits?
Poland is a very interesting country which is gaining influence in Europe, in Belgium and in Brussels in particular. Poland acceded to the European Union in 2004, which can be noticed in many a domain. The appointment of Donald Tusk as President of the European Council will undoubtedly boost the status of Polish even further. The labour market for translators, interpreters and multilingual communication specialists with expertise in Polish is likely to continue growing. Although Polish seems difficult at first sight, knowledge of language offers a lot of opportunities.
How is Polish incorporated in the curriculum at your department?
Students in Applied Language Studies choose two foreign languages beside Dutch. Both languages are studied with the same intensity. Polish can therefore be combined with English, French or German. During the three-year bachelor programme students will have Dutch language courses, both proficiency and linguistics. For both of their foreign languages, including Polish, they will have courses on proficiency and linguistics (including grammar) but they will also be offered specialised courses on translation and on the culture of the languages studied, that is Polish and the other European language (English, French or German).Of course, the students will follow some general courses as well, like general linguistics, academic writing, language and technology and terminology management.
In 2018, when our first bachelors will graduate, we will open our master programmes with Polish. These include Translation, Interpreting, and Multilingual communication and will take one year. In 2019 our first masters with Polish in their programme will be on the market.
More information about the programme is available here:
- A milestone for the Polish language: KU Leuven in Brussels a pioneer
- Interview with Prof. dr. Sylvia Liseling-Nilsson, soon.
Photos: Communications-Unlimited, KU Leuven