Bachelor Minorities & Multilingualism

In our Bachelor Programme on Minorities and Multilingualism students learn to compare and contrast ethnolinguistic minorities, especially from the perspectives of multilingualism, politics and culture. The programme offers a versatile combination of courses, such as linguistics, political history, cultural history, and sociolinguistics, in order to provide students with the tools to investigate the wide range of aspects related to minorities, minority cultures and multilingualism.

Why minorities?

One of the greatest challenges of modern democracies is to find a stable balance between unity and diversity. How to deal with ethnic and cultural differences, that is the main question. Minorities are at the core of this. These might be old ethnolinguistic minorities that live within larger nation states. Presently, some of these minorities, like for instance the Catalans in Spain or the Russian speaking Ukrainians, cause geopolitical tensions through their strife for independence from encompassing majority states. At the same time migratory movements around the globe have created all kinds of new minorities like for instance Kurds in Germany or Turks in the Netherlands. Whereas the ‘old’ minorities have been granted rights to celebrate their language and culture, these new minorities are rather expected to give up their original culture and language in order to become full fledged citizens.

Structure of the programme

The first year begins with lectures on minority languages, linguistics, and political and historical aspects of minorities and multicultural society in Europe. Students learn about multilingualism and measures to promote or regulate the use or influence the status of a language. A part of the second year is dedicated to research and students also choose one of the many available minors or specialise in a particular minority language, such as Frisian, Catalan, or Turkish. Depending on their choice, students study this language in Groningen or at another university in the Netherlands or abroad (in your third year). Alternatively, students may pursue a minor in a subject such as History or International Relations, or do a internship in the Netherlands. If you choose to study Frisian, you follow a number of course units and complete the programme with a Bachelor thesis. Outstanding students can make their programme more challenging with broadening and deepening course units in the Honours College.

Specialisation

The programme allows students to specialise in a particular minority language and culture (the ‘minor’ programme). They have the opportunity to spend part of their studies abroad at a partnering university to deepen their knowledge on a specific (minority) subject, or complete an internship at an (international) organisation. Students could for instance choose to spend half a year among minorities abroad, either within or outside of Europe.
Closer to home, students can also choose to specialise in Frisian language and culture, by following the unique Frisian track.

A student’s view

In the programme there are a lot of students and teachers that come from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. “Getting in touch with these different languages and cultures makes the things you learn come alive and gives the student a first-hand perspective on minorities and multilingualism.” Even though the programme is quite new it offers “a great variety, and finds a good balance between the more linguistic side of things and the political and historical courses.”

Job prospects

After finishing the Bachelor programme students are capable of analysing – and solving! – intercultural problems between minority and majority groups. The programme aims to prepare you for a career on a local, national, or international level where different cultures and languages meet.

As experts on social diversity, our students can find work in a host of different sectors. One could become a language policy advisor for multinationals that need to effectively deal with the large cultural diversity of their employees. A degree in minorities and multilingualism could also be followed up by studying journalism to become a news correspondent in conflict areas where the knowledge on cross-cultural communication, identity, society and multilingualism is invaluable. Want to know more about a career after studying Minorities & Multilingualism? Read more about what to expect after your studies or read the experiences of our graduates on our alumni page.

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Courses

Thousands of languages are spoken on this planet, but scientists predict that only a few hundred of these will survive in the long run. Why do smaller languages die? Can smaller languages be saved? Or would it just be for the best if we all just started to speak English? Dr. Nanna Hilton, specialised in language contact and vitality, teaches students about the general typological traits of minority languages and their speech communities. The course helps students understand which social and political factors prevent a language from dying, and how you can make sound predictions about the vitality of a language. Through a number of case studies from Europe and beyond, interactive classes are taught which focus on developing a broad theoretical foundation combined with teaching them practical skills about language revitalisation. This is a 2 x 5 ECTS course.

Taught by Prof. Goffe Jensma and Dr. Tilman Lanz, this course lays the foundation for the cultural-historical part of the BA-programme, introducing students to theories and concepts on minorities, identity formation and nationalism. The course examines how nationalism and state formation have resulted in the emergence of many subnational minorities in modern Europe. Sketching their cultural history, particular attention is paid to the way in which these minorities deal with origin, tradition, and history: how they construct their identity in relation to the dominant majority. In addition, students learn how new minorities have emerged as a consequence of migration. Taking a comparative perspective, this course analyses similarities and differences between these localised and migrant minorities. In the seminars, students collect and present data on one or more specific minorities. The course’s final assessment (2 x 5 ECTS) is a written exam.

Lecturer Dr. Eva J. Daussà introduces the student to linguistics, the study of language. The course addresses questions such as, what is specific about human language as opposed to the communication systems employed by animals? What can we learn about how we create personal and social relationships, through the study of language? This introduction to linguistics furthermore offers students insight into the various subfields of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, as well as linguistic ecologies, language contact and change, and writing systems. By conducting their own linguistic analyses, students learn to apply their knowledge in topical case studies. This is a 2 x 5 ECTS course.

The consequences of multilingualism for individuals and society are at the core of this course. Students learn about language acquisition, the cognitive effects of knowing and using more than one language, and approaches to multilingualism in the family context and in education.

Lecturer Dr. Eva J. Daussà also introduces students to issues of language policies and language planning at formal and informal levels, and how this influences individuals and communities. Students acquire background knowledge and skills that are invaluable for educators, policy makers, language professionals, language scientists, and even forensic investigators. The course is also assessed through a final exam. This is a 2 x 5 ECTS course.

Post 1989 developments of globalisation and migration have an enormous impact on the lives of localised and immigrant minorities, especially in Europe, but also elsewhere in the world. Prof. Goffe Jensma offers a political and sociological top-down-approach to this process in the first half of the course, whereas Dr. Tilman Lanz shows an anthropological bottom-up-perspective in the second. Students learn how European and other countries have dealt with problems of immigration and integration, while at the same time celebrating cultural and linguistic diversity. They are invited to think critically about identity construction and the political management of cultural differences in an era of globalisation. The final assessments of this 2 x 5 ECTS course are a written exam and a position paper.

This course considers general scientific methods and techniques that are relevant in multidisciplinary research within the field of minorities and multilingualism. In the first, qualitative block, anthropologist Tilman Lanz teaches students critical concepts and methods they need to successfully complete the research component of the programme. The focus in this block is on a key concept in qualitative research, which is participant observation.

The second part of the course will concern itself with (socio)linguistic research. Students learn to apply quantitative methods, including what to keep in mind when designing a quantitative study and how to analyze the data using basic statistics such as t-tests and correlations. Next to a final exam, students are assessed by weekly assignments, a presentation, and a research project they work on in a group. This is a 2x5ECTS course (280 hours of study).

This course surveys how the disadvantaged position minorities find themselves in are reflected in literature, film and other art forms. Together with lecturer Jesse van Amelsvoort, students look at minority representation, as well as the possibilities for self-representation by minority authors, filmmakers and artists. Key concepts are identity formation, recognition and inclusion. Students will study and come to understand how these notions are connected with language, canonization and nationalism. This course maps and analyses these concepts through a combination of theory from literary, cultural, gender and postcolonial studies and case studies. The course is assessed through various written and oral assignments. The final assignment asks of the students to translate their ideas to a wider, non-academic audience and engage in their own minority representation by way of a photo essay. This is a 2 x 5 ECTS course (280 hours of study).

Cultural heritage often has been used to impose a dominant culture on minority groups, but has increasingly become a means for minorities to present, safeguard and sometimes even strengthen their traditions and identity as well. The course consists of a theoretical approach to the field of heritage studies with a focus on national heritage, heritage and minorities, different forms of heritage, the powers that shape our understanding of cultural legacy and heritage tourism. The northern parts of the Netherlands function as a local laboratory, as the students visit some cultural heritage sites to discuss the theoretical notions. Finally, the students apply their research skills and theoretical knowledge by conducting fieldwork based on one of the themes discussed in the theoretical part or related to one of the sites visited. 

Into the Local Laboratory offers a practical lecture-seminar learning environment in which students will be introduced to the study of language in multilingual situations as encountered in the Northern provinces in the Netherlands. The lecture portion of this module will introduce students to the practice of socio- and psycholinguistic research and methodological debates within the field. The seminars will constitute of intensive methods workshops in which students apply their knowledge in the field. Students will also be given the possibility to visit and study language labs, multilingual schools, nursery homes, and the multilingual streets of the North of the Netherlands. During this course, the knowledge acquired from Research Methodology (LHF034B05) will be put into practice. Students will draw up a research design and examine and use methods and techniques in the field to critically and systematically evaluate beliefs, ideas, and data related to issues in multilingualism. The main aim of this course is to provide students with practical experience in applied research methods and skills that are transferable across a wide range of (research) careers.

Taught by Dr. Joana Duarte, this course offers students first-hand knowledge of bi- and multilingual education at various levels and with respect to a range of target languages: dominant or majority languages, traditional and new foreign languages as well as regional and minority languages and immigrant languages. The course consists of two blocks in semester II. In addition to the final research paper, students do exercises, give presentations and complete a course paper in this 2 x 5 ECTS course (280 hours of study).

This course introduces third year students in the M&M programme to the concept and associated techniques of intercultural communication. Following the theme of the programme, this course’s focus is on language as well as culture but, especially, on the interplay of both in intercultural communication. Throughout the course, we explore in what domains of contemporary intercultural interactions various different forms of communication may be fortuitously deployed. This includes the workplace, international classroom situations, group and intersubjective relations, legal aspects, socio-economic considerations, or relations of power.

In this course you are introduced to the fields of gender and sexuality studies, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ minorities. You learn about theories of gender and sexuality, and about the histories of LGBTQ+ minorities in different parts of the world. Because these are much debated topics in society at large, we regularly relate our findings to contemporary news and media. Your knowledge of theories on gender and sexuality is tested through a written exam. Throughout the course you work on a portfolio, by way of which you also train research, writing, and presentation skills.

At the end of the BA-programme, students have to prove that they are capable of working with the concepts, theories and methodologies taught in the past three years by writing a bachelor thesis. Supervised and encouraged by one of our staff members, students think of a challenging and valuable research question, draft a thesis plan, conduct their qualitative and/or quantitative research, analyse the results and write a bachelor thesis. They are invited to do comparative research of different minority groups and to focus on a (socio)linguistic, historical or anthropological perspective.

In order to get the best out of your academic studies, students are encouraged to do an internship in the Netherlands or abroad, for example at a company, an institution, or a (governmental) organisation that is concerned with minority languages and/or culture. Both abroad and in the Netherlands, internships give you the opportunity to develop your network, to experience a work environment and to prepare yourself for the labour market. If you are enthusiastic about a certain place and a certain internship, staff members are always willing to help you to get you there. Alternative for doing an internship is taking one of the optional courses ‘Multilingual Education’ and ‘Intercultural Communication’.

Lecturers

Time

Everyday between 9:00 to 17:00

Location

Bachelor: Groningen
Master: Leeuwarden

When?

Monday 4 September 2017 – Friday 6 July 2018