The second Alliance level progress meeting of the Multilingualism Lab was organized on Tuesday, March 29th 2022.  Everyone collaborating in the Lab, students and staff alike, were invited, along with anyone curious about the Lab’s work. Information about the progress meeting, the registration link, and the schedule were published online. The meeting was organized in hybrid modality; several participants from Finland joined the session from the University of Jyväskylä’s campus. During the meeting participants got to know the Lab’s current state, outputs that are being developed and proposals from the two new partners, University of Agder (UiA) and Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu (LBUS), officially joining the FORTHEM Alliance as full members from September 2022.

The round of introductions was especially important this time as the meeting was honoured by externals guests from the Embassy of France and the French Institute in Helsinki. The representatives expressed their high interest in the European Universities Initiative, the work of the Multilingualism Lab and the promotion of multilingualism in higher education institutions in general.

The meeting consisted of three sessions. In the first one, three of the Lab’s delivered outputs were presented and discussed. These were the summer school organized in Palermo (November 8-12, 2022.), an open access volume called “Multimodality of academic genres in multilingual education” coordinated by the University of Opole and a course called “X as a medium of instruction”, piloted by the University of València.

After a short break three outputs in progress were presented for the participants. One of these is an interdisciplinary multilingual project, called “Peter and the Wolf goes plurilingual.” This output is coordinated by Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. The other two presented outputs in progress are both coordinated by the University of Jyväskylä in cooperation with the University of Opole (Citizen Science project on multilingualism in education) and external partners (Schoolscape course about multilingual learning environments; with Åbo Akademi University). For further reading on all of the delivered outputs and outputs in development, please visit the Lab’s website.

In the last session, updates were shared about the alliance-level sustainability meeting, which is going to be held in València in May 2022. The two new partners, Agder and Sibiu, presented their proposals for lab contribution. The LBUS team had two proposals: “Attitudes, aptitudes and multicultural competences in academic programmes of languages learning” and “Visual multilingualism in multicultural urbanity”. The presentation delivered by Agder has outlined many of their ongoing cooperation, one of which is an already existing cooperation with Mainz in Translation Studies. Another proposal by the University of Jyväskylä and Åbo Akademi University was also presented towards the end of the meeting. The topic was the use of use 360° videography in the research and development of multilingual learning environments.

Regarding the future of the Lab, the meeting left me with an overall positive feeling, despite of the difficulties mentioned during the meeting concerning e.g. student involvement. There are ambitious plans to promote student involvement in the Lab’s work in the new coordination structure of Labs.

For someone who only recently has joined the FORTHEM Alliance, participation in this meeting was enhancing on many levels. First, I could interact with people from all the member universities, which was an excellent possibility to start building and international professional network. Second, it feels my time in FORTHEM will greatly improve my abilities in working life. Not only I get to learn and do things I have not done before (such as web editing), but I also get to practice and enhance my skills I so far only got to do in various student associations. A good example and combination of these two areas is the fact that despite of being only a recent addition to FORTHEM, I was entrusted with the heavy duty of writing the minutes of this meeting. The overall welcoming atmosphere really makes me feel hopeful for the future.


Text by: András Bence Molnár-Varga (Lab Coordinator, University of Jyväskylä)


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