SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING AND COMPETENCIES IN SPANISH UNIVERSITIES FULFILLING EUROPEAN CONVERGENCE OBJECTIVES
1 Universidad de La Rioja (SPAIN)
2 Universidad de Vigo (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:According to the White Paper on Engineering Degrees, there is a need to develop transcripts that are not just administratively intelligible, but that also make cross-employability possible. That is to say, the education system must modify or adapt itself in order to homogenize education and improve the employability of European citizens throughout Europe.
The inevitable need therefore arises to somehow identify the curricula of university students. Linguistic competencies and second language learning are the objects of this examination.
Thus, new syllabuses will have to incorporate bilingual teaching and encourage study abroad. This internationalization of curriculum will also force students to accredit a specific level of a second language: threshold level B1 (according to the Common European Framework for Languages).
Until now, such certificates have been offered by universities, but nowadays, the certification must be official. In the case of English, the most notable certifications are IELTS (valid for two years), TOEFL (American English standard), and the Cambridge University exams offered in various countries.
In this sense, Spanish universities have slowly adapted to this new era, although the types of certification available vary from centre to centre. The majority of universities have opted to offer students an official certification exam, while a small number of universities also include the possibility of completely bilingual degree programs. Among the former group of universities, a distinction can also be made between those that offer an official certification exam accompanied by a specific course, and those that do not offer any complementary coursework.
In either case, the options available to students are highly dependent on the particular characteristics of each centre.
It is reasonable to affirm that those universities located in large metropolises will always be in a better position to offer a much broader gamut of educational opportunities than those located in areas with a lower population density.
Focusing on the case at hand, the demand of educated students for bilingual higher education is clearly greater in urban centres. Hence, this type of teaching is concentrated in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia.
In our specific case, the University of La Rioja has chosen to delegate the official certification process to other institutions.
At this point, and in light of the aforementioned factors, the following should be asked: is developing competencies related to second language learning worth the effort when the respective certification and education has been assigned to an external entity?
This article summarises the convergence objectives for second language learning and the different solutions that have been adopted, and also includes an analysis of the main conditions affecting the implementation of these solutions in university teaching and a work proposal that is consistent with those main conditions.
Keywords: Competencies, English, European convergence, education, certification, proposal.