F. Brevi, F. Ramponi

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
There is a word in the world of the universities that is becoming very important, internationalization. This word identifies the ability to setup complex research projects with international partnerships, but also the ability to fill the classrooms of international students and teachers. Of course this is a process already set since long time in the USA where it has been one of the key elements of their economic strength in the last decades. In Europe a strong attraction comes from UK universities. All of them are English speaking countries; it’s possible to discuss if this is one of the reasons why English language became a sort of standard language, mainly in the scientific fields, or vice versa if they are more attractive because the lessons are taught in English, but probably it’s not so interesting.
We are involved in the organization and in the teaching of a specializing course, held in an Italian state university based in Milano, focused on industrial design, more precisely on car design, that is one of the fields of excellence of the Italian Design summarized in the so called “made in Italy”.
The first decision concerned the language to use for teaching this course because it’s open to worldwide students, but also because the graduated students should be ready to go everywhere in the world. At the same time, the language is just one of the several problems to manage in a multi cultural environment where the players are groups of creative people.
At last it was decided to teach in Italian and to setup a group of strategies able to reduce the problems related with the manage of students that have to learn a lot of information, techniques and methodologies, but also to learn how to work in groups effectively, even in a highly competitive environment.
This has been a 5 years process that gives us a strong awareness today about our choices.
In this paper the authors describe the preliminary debate about the language to use in the classroom, how they got results and the strategies they set up to increase the chances of success. The process has not been a linear process, because of different students, year by year, coming from different countries and from different cultural backgrounds, and because they have also to learn how to relate each other in a team, even more when involved in a creative work.