Since the beginning of June, the University of Jyväskylä no longer has a Language Centre. Language and communication teaching is, naturally, still continuing at the University, but it is now part of the new Centre for Multilingual Academic Communication, Movi for short. Movi is the next generation of language centres.

The idea of the language centre as a unit in charge of the language studies included in university degrees originally comes from the University of Jyväskylä. In the mid-1970s language centres were established at different universities and the language centre network expanded rapidly.

“The name Language Centre has a 1970s tone to it and reflects a world that no longer exists,” says the director of Movi, Peppi Taalas. “The change from the Language Centre to Movi is a natural step for JYU as a trendsetter in language teaching and learning. The new name better matches the current activities and teaching pursued and provided by Movi.”

The name change and transformation of the centre was in preparation for over a year in collaboration with the university management, staff and interest groups. The official name was confirmed by the University Board meeting in May 2019.

“As the world keeps changing and communicative needs are growing more complex, the changes must show in our activities as well and we have to reorganise ourselves,” Taalas explains.

“The new name and transformed activities derive from genuine critical consideration regarding the reorganisation of core functions, aiming also at more comprehensive utilisation and development of the personnel’s broad-based professional competence.”

The JYU Language Centre has not been a so-called traditional language centre for a long time. The future trends, scope of collaboration within the community, and the aims of cooperation of many other universities’ language centres may vary greatly from university to university. Movi staff works in close cooperation with all departments, seeking to contribute to curriculum development at JYU. Besides students, Movi also provides training for JYU staff members.

“In traditional thinking and operation models languages are seen as separate, relatively ready packets to be offered in a discipline-oriented fashion at some point of the degree programme,” says Taalas. “Our way of thinking with respect to communication and language studies is different in terms of our language conceptions and operational structures. When the aim is to train an academic expert with persuasive communicative skills, it calls not only for language skills but also for versatile, broad-based competence. Achieving this requires the well-rounded development of interaction skills, which is hard to accomplish in traditional language courses.”

UVK studies as a timely and supportive element for learning

Movi has invested heavily in the development of new, integrated structures for communication and language courses (UVK) studies and thereby bringing a new kind of thinking in all degree programmes at the University. The UVK concept has been in development since 2013, and next autumn there will be 10 UVK modules underway in different JYU faculties and departments. Moreover, in the new curriculum to be introduced in autumn 2020 UVK studies will be included in all bachelor’s degrees at JYU.

Along with these studies, the bachelor-level curriculum will no longer encompass separate language and communication courses but these are replaced with study modules that are linked, with appropriate timing and content, to the subject studies.

“Multilingualism means that languages are not isolated from each other, and that languages are used in a goal-oriented way as needed in different situations,” says Taalas.

“Even modest language skills can help achieve a lot, when harnessed correctly as a part of the learner’s language repertoire. This UVK way of thinking, based on diverse collaboration, is a fundamental part of Movi activities.”

At the heart of the strategy

According to the objectives of the new JYU strategy, the University will broadly increase well-being and competence in society. The education development programme, “Educating experts with influence”, aims at students’ and graduates’ holistic development.

“Versatile interaction skills, language skills and cultural awareness are firmly at the heart of the programme’s competence objectives,” says Vice Rector Marja-Leena Laakso, who is in charge of educational matters. Movi plays an important role in developing these skills and thereby in improving the quality of our degree programmes.”

The University of Jyväskylä aims to provide a unique environment for language teaching and learning.

“We are ready to deal with new challenges emerging from the community, nationally and internationally,” Taalas says.

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