Hungdah Su is Professor & Jean Monnet Chair of the Department of Political Science College of Social Sciences at National Taiwan University. He is also Director General of the European Union Centre in Taiwan.
Hans Werner Hess is Professor of European Studies and one of two Programme Coordinators of the European Studies programme at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research areas include E-learning / Blended Learning, European Studies curriculum development and issues of European history relevant for Asian students.
Aleksandar Pavković is Associate Professor of politics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He has served as coordinator of the Master of European Studies at the University of Macau, Director of the Centre for Slavonic and East European Studies and Program Director of the Bachelor of European Studies at Macquarie University.
Roland Vogt is Assistant Professor of European Studies in the European Studies Programme, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests are European diplomacy and foreign policy, Sino-European relations, political leadership, and value contestation in Europe.
José Eugenio Borao Mateo is Professor of Span ish Language and Spanish Culture in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University, where he has served as coordinator of the European Languages Division, of the Department of Foreign Languages. His areas of research focus on the historical relations between China & Taiwan and Spain.
Wai Meng Chan is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the National University of Singapore. His research currently focuses on learner autonomy, metacognition, language learning motivation, and the application of new technologies in language learning.
Andrew E. Finch is Professor of English Education in the School of Education at Kyungpook National University, in the Republic of Korea. His research interests include heritage language learning, language teaching as education of the whole person, the non-threatening learning environment, and task-based supplementation of textbooks.
Chung Heng Shen is Assistant Professor in the Department of French, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Fu Jen Catholic University, in Taiwan, Republic of China. His major research interests are European Union integration, European citizenship, language and identity, French government and politics.
Yi-De Liu is Associate Professor at the Graduate Institute of European Cultures and Tourism, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan. His research interests and reaching expertise include cultural tourism management, European heritage tourism, European cultural events and European cultural policies.
Vassilis Vagios is Associate Professor of Classical Greek in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. His research focuses on functional linguistics and its application for interpreting literature.
(under the limitations inherent in any institution and allowing for the lack of specific EUL departments) under the understanding among the teachers that they are creating comprehensive programs, making space for the so-called “less common taught languages”, which nevertheless are rich in cultural connectivity.
When researching Foreign Languages teaching policies, the creation of syllabi and the establishment of synergies between complementary areas of learning – in other words, the purpose of this book – it is difficult to escape the simple but necessary approach of offering reports of the situation in a given school or country, and this difficulty loomed as we were compiling this book. Nevertheless, we have tried consciously to go beyond this approach, because statistics only offer trends, not the reasons why a particular design works or not, or what its process of consolidation and renewal is. So we have deliberately attempted to set a new approach: to focus on when and how syllabus constructions can link European languages and European studies.
The first part of this book considers the meaning of European Studies, an issue which becomes especially relevant now that Europe, in sharp contrast with the situation in East Asia, is experiencing a severe economic recession. The purpose is to address the question of how European studies can or should adapt once more to a new political, economic, social and cultural environment. It seems that those studies experienced a decline of interest in regions like Japan, Korea, Hong Kong or Macao, and the authors of the book propose a range of different explanations. Sometimes the reason is that the relevant programs lack definition or practical application, and when this problem is compounded by high fees, the situation results in cases like Macao in a high percentage of non-completion, since students are tempted to start working before graduation. In other cases the decline can be attributed to the perception among students that the EU is changing from integration to disintegration, that Europe is in a process of re-construction, and that it is difficult to see what the new Europe will look like or stand for. Certainly this perception is further strengthened by the fact that Europe has been presented as a series of disasters, rather than as 70 years of peace; as conflict rather than as ways of ritualizing conflict, despite the fact that this latter approach can be very well understood in an East Asia of societies shaped by the Confucian principles of social harmony.
Integration is most commonly chosen as a focal point in European Studies when a program concentrates on recent political affairs. Yet, there is a great multiplicity of possible approaches, like – to mention just an example – the dialogues between government and civil society. Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, broadened the vision of Europe saying: “The economic success of Europe depends on a triangle, composed by the competence, which works as stimulus of the economy, the cooperation, which enforces it, and the solidarity, that unites”.
Solidarity becomes more prominent when one attempts to understand the diversity of cultures in Europe, for which communication through language instruction – the topic of the second part of this book – seems to be essential. Do the students and scholars need advanced knowledge of EUL to answer questions on Europe? In the mind of the contributors of this book there are even more specific questions. What is the identity of Europe? What do Europeans say about themselves? What is the understanding of human nature which forms the foundation of the European legal system? Is there any European tradition as an intellectual phenomenon? Many programs rely on English books to approach these questions, but they may only offer a shallow knowledge of the topic for graduate students aiming to write their thesis on specific countries. On the other hand, the list of challenges of the feasibility of the programs can be enlarged. As Europe is made up of different states and as courses about Europe are taught by specialists from different countries, there is the risk that some undergraduate programs offer content but without a clear framework of reference that would help students to map the knowledge they acquire. Similarly, many students probably know quite a lot about European Union but not about European history. This lack of a general perspective may lead to many structural and rigid conclusions. Finally we can see how some programs offer a list of courses with appealing titles, like “Handling a Conflict”, or “Love in the European Tradition”, etc., resulting in a general organization that is confusing for the students: deep in analysis, but with little overview. What is the role of the language in integrating this knowledge? Probably it is not a matter of levels but of the diversity of languages. The best “course” is to learn more than one European language and to balance the same issue by using different national perspectives, which are integrated in the same mind of the researcher. It is known that elites look for two or three languages to succeed in their careers, but can this achievement be democratized? It appears to be a difficult way to go, but when the programs are thoroughly designed this objective is not as unreachable as it may seem. Probably the best programs are those that are actualized, modified and improved every year towards a clear well defined goal. To define this goal is not a matter of predetermined levels of proficiency following the Common European Framework of Reference for languages, but to know the general academic framework of the students and to see how programs can best suit them, in a permanent process of trial and error.
The third part of this book deals with the difficult issue of linking the syllabi of European studies and foreign languages. Certainly, the three economic axes of competence, cooperation and solidarity mentioned by Delors should be embodied in the different domains of the European social fabric, consequently giving even more importance to the learning of languages not only to better enhance cooperation and solidarity, but to apply the proper language acquisition for the specific fields of knowledge. How should departments be organized? Are multidisciplinary, or multilingual or multicultural programs better? Further questions add additional perspectives. For example some would consider that teaching grammar is obsolete for teaching languages for specific purposes; or a graduate student of Tourism would not be considered a potential tourist guide, but a potential tourist manager, needing language skills that will enable him or her to consult data to produce statistics, look for prospective markets, etc. From other perspectives again, the link between European studies and languages is an art that seeks to find the best method of interpreting language and content (showing for example why the subjunctive mode is important to understand a culture). The same kind of art needs to be possessed by those who seek to co-ordinate these different perspectives in a way that would allow combining the five departments of languages in a College of Foreign Languages, because while such diversity is a treasure, it can also be an obstacle.
It is difficult to reach conclusions, but we think that the best way for creating successful programs in big universities is not just to add a great amount of new resources, but to think on ways of maximizing the existing ones, creating conditions that allow ad-hoc cross campus cooperation, and certainly fostering mobility of students through exchange programs so that they can have their own European experience. Language should be a tool to reach Europe and immersion for at least a year should be a requirement, bearing in mind that it is the experience in Europe that counts, not the mastering of European languages. The experience will even be further enhanced, enhanced, if the student is able to gain some practical working experience in one or two European countries. Equipped with all these experiences it will be considerably easier for a student to understand more sophisticated concepts like the claim that the European Union is based on mutual forgiveness and understanding; or to demand from students to write their thesis in English or other European languages. But most importantly the students, and their instructors, will be trained in critical thinking, and because of that they will reassess what critical thinking means.
Finally we want to add also a touch of realism. When designing programs, administrators should not be so naïve as to ignore what companies want, what human resources departments look for, and other basic things like an excellent command of the applicants’ own national language which are still very important in terms of employability. After all, ultimately graduates have to make a living. We hope that these ideas and the approach of the present book will be further developed by others and that our contribution may serve to serve to open up a debate that encourages more colleagues to participate.
José Eugenio Borao Mateo
Will this “friendly environment”, nowadays cultivated within a Department of Foreign Languages, be better achieved by an independent institution, like one department or in a school or college of languages, and, if yes, how to achieve it? We think that even if the answer is affirmative it is not necessarily easy to implement it, and the good formula will be the one that matches the possibilities of a given moment. Trying to answer the question, we have presented at the beginning of this paper how the developments in the structure of the EUL teaching was done through three bottom-up policies (the module, the xuezhang and the Division). NTU is now on the verge of unconsciously reaching the status of a campus with a “Friendly Foreign Languages Learning Environment”; but the question is if other steps forward can be done, or if the agents of the bottom-up policies should convince themselves that they have reached their own limitations. The latest developments in the EUL Division opening new courses and offering new languages was possible in the final analysis thanks to the new funds the MOE offered to raise the international status of NTU and other universities. Reaching the status of EUL Division (third bottom-up policy) in fact was not difficult because it did not suppose a big administrative change, since it is something within the DFLL. On the other hand, different pre-attempts to develop this status had encountered with the opposition of English teachers and the school bureaucracy. Can the above-mentioned Master in European Studies be targeted as a kind of fourth bottom-up policy? We think it is not impossible in a theoretical way, but in a practical one such initiative is bordering the limit of the bottom-up policies, whose boundary is the departmental realm. Only top-down policies will be able to create new frames for the teaching of EUL or SFL in general.
----The Formation of theEuropean Languages Division in the DFLL at NTU and the Challenges for the Future
by JOSÉ EUGENIO BORAO MATEO (National Taiwan University)
If the utilitarian view that economic forces drive academic achievement is taken, then it is interesting to note that the financial collapse of 2009 in the USA has resulted in reduced confidence on the part of traders, politicians and students. In addition, the recent European Union–Korea Free Trade Agreement (October 15, 2009) has opened up a number of opportunities for cultural, financial and other exchanges. Business and academic interest in Korea has recently been turning towards the European Union; educators are looking at the CEFR as a model of internationally-accredited assessment and students are increasingly turning to the UK-based International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is supported by The Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE). These factors point to increased trade with the European Union and consequent increased enrolment in European language courses in schools.
Despite this recent trend and the success of economy-driven education in terms of making Korea an Asian economic tiger, it is crucial to remember that the ultimate goal of education in Korea is holistic and aims at producing well-rounded citizens who can contribute to the growth and prosperity of a democratic society. A utilitarian approach to education cannot hope to satisfy such goals, since it views students as economic units or cogs in a national machine. In contrast, language learning has been shown to have many benefits in terms of building the whole person and promoting cultural, emotional, and social awareness. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the current view of education will be modified and that policy makers will pay more than lip-service to the research findings which show that students who study arts and languages are not only more developed as individuals, but are also strong in higher-order thinking skills and consequently ready to become autonomous, creative, and responsible members of society.
----The Decline of European Language Education in Korea and the Rise of English
by ANDREW E. FINCH (Kyungpook National University)
One of the major tasks to remedy the relative decline of Europe is to lead by example. If Europe is to secure and regain its standing in the world, it needs to do so by showing others that societies can tackle their economic problems, that societies can combine high levels of social equality with business competitiveness, that societies can be democratic and responsive at the same time, and that societies can embrace changes and innovations that are based on the will of the people. In some areas, such as global climate change and international justice, Europe has begun to take up such a proactive leadership role. Yet if it wants to do so credibly, the continent needs to come to terms with the pressing challenges that the continent faces today – the debt crisis, the fallout of mass immigration, ageing and demographic decline, the unsustainability of mass welfare systems, as well as the continent’s diminishing ability to lead in the fields of education, science, and technological innovation. The transformation of China should serve as reminder, both to scholars of European Studies but also to European decision-makers, to think beyond their European context and appreciate the extent to which developments in Europe are shaped by forces outside of it.
---- European Studies on China’s Transformation: A Critical Assessment
by ROLAND VOGT (University of Hong Kong)