So, what is this actually about?

Yeah, what is this actually about? That’s easy – M&M. No, it has nothing to do with the colourful chocolate covered peanuts (even if the three new flavours are very exciting news); At the University of Groningen it stands for Minorities and Multilingualism. Of course, I realise that while that narrows it down, you still might not be sure what the course is all about. As sorry as I am to say that, but since I am not a M&M student I don’t actually know that either. Wait! Before I lose you, there is a “but”, appearing here as a more sophisticated “however”. Please, read on.

Like others, I wasn’t quite sure what the Minorities and Multilingualism course could be about, but the information I found online made it seem like an interesting programme, so I wanted to find out more. I was thrilled to see that the University of Groningen offers web classes (in English!), which provide valuable insight into some of the topics covered by first year students. I didn’t think twice about joining the M&M web class and here’s why you shouldn’t either!

The four-week course began halfway through March and is focused on various aspects of the naturalisation exam. Each week participants were presented with reading material and videos, and by each Sunday we had to complete an assignment – quizzes, essays, summaries, reports, you name it! I especially enjoyed conducting my own experiment (which involved forcing a few of my friends to try memorising Romanian words) and writing a report where I analysed the results in relation to previous research, on factors affecting language acquisition. Our work was then marked and we were given feedback. I promise that there is nothing quite like the mix of excitement and anxiety you experience when you obsessively check Nestor to find out how you did!

The focus of the web class – naturalisation exams – turned out to be an extremely interesting and diverse topic. Not only did I get the opportunity to get a better understanding of the political implications of immigration, but also to read journal articles about linguistics and integration, analyse  migrant poetry, question the definition of democracy and deal with immigration statistics. Tip – if you love playing with data and are interested in how different countries promote integration, you simply must have a look at the MIPEX website as it is heavenly.

Overall, the topics studied during the Minorities and Multilingualism web class are a perfect combination of politics, linguistics, sociology, and even literature. This web class was an educational and fun experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the politically sensitive issues we are facing today in relation to immigration and integration.

By: Florentyna Syperek (photo)