Third language accreditation
As a result of the publication of Law 2/2014, of 27 January, specifically article 211 on the accreditation of knowledge of a third language in the university sector, UPF has adopted an agreement in relation to all students beginning their degree studies in the year 2014-2015, whereby these students will have to demonstrate having reached level B2 competence in a third language in order to graduate.
Specifically, the Agreement of the UPF Board of Governors of July 2014 establishes the following:
1- Students taking official degree programmes organized by UPF will be able to demonstrate the competence level required in a foreign language via one of the following options:
- By passing the specific exams that are established for this purpose.
- By providing accreditation of language competence recognized as equivalent to the CEFR.
2- Accreditation of achievement of this level of competence in a foreign language will be indispensable for obtaining the graduate qualification.
3- It is established that this requirement will be incorporated into the syllabi of degree qualifications through the qualifications monitoring mechanism. The vice-rector for Teaching and Academic Planning is authorized to take the convenient measures for enforcing the content of this agreement, including its management before the Council of Universities, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, the Catalan government, and the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya).
In accordance with the legal regulations in force, and bearing in mind the second agreement of the Board of the Inter-University Council of Catalonia on the recognition of certificates and qualifications accrediting competence in foreign languages, UPF has provided updated information and guidance to students on the documentation for accrediting competence in third languages in order to guarantee the principles of accurate, accessible, and transparent information.
Language learning and use in the bachelor’s degree course
Due to its international nature, the degree in Global Studies is regarded as a space for the use and study of several languages. Plurilingual learning is a key element in the training of the future graduates. Moreover, the degree must combine the linguistic training needs of very different types of students, taking into consideration the diversity of their geographic origins.
The language of instruction during the first two years will be almost always English. The optional subjects in the third year can be taken in English, Spanish, or Catalan, according to the courses offered by the faculties involved. A minimum of subjects in Spanish and Catalan will be ensured so that foreign students who wish to do so can strengthen their command of these languages.
Language training includes three compulsory subjects in one foreign language, with a choice between Chinese, Arabic, Russian, French, or Spanish (only for international students) and taking a maximum of 18 credits. Starting from scratch (except in Spanish) and in accordance with the scales of the CEFR of the European Council (90-100 face-to-face hours for each level: A1, A2, B1, etc.), the students should reach level A2.1 or higher in Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or French and level B2.1 in Spanish in order to get a passing score on finishing the third subject. With some extra work in independent, online, and tutored learning, the students with the best grades could reach level A2 (B2 in the Spanish case).
These compulsory foreign language subjects are worth 6 credits each, recorded in table 5.1.3 in the third trimester of the first, second, and third years. Since we are dealing with language learning, continuous teaching throughout the year is the most effective approach. Therefore, the classes are distributed throughout the three trimesters, at two credits per trimester. This leaves the number of ECTS credits of the student at 20 for each trimester, though the final assessment is in the third trimester and, therefore, in table 5.1.3 the trimesters appear apparently unequal in the number of credits (18, 18, and 24 credits, respectively, which in terms of the student’s actual dedication can be considered 20, 20, and 20 credits).
In addition, there are optional subjects in German, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, and Russian, governed by the same criteria as the CEFR, as well as extracurricular Catalan language classes incentivized at a special price and currently already on offer for exchange students in UPF in general.
The stay abroad will provide many students with reinforcement in the foreign language chosen, in the same way that foreign students will learn Spanish and Catalan through immersion in local daily life in Barcelona. This can be further reinforced with the Languages UPF courses and with the language volunteering systems.
The objective of language learning in the degree in Global Studies is for the students to be able to cope proficiently or at the level of an experienced user in two of the six official languages of the UN (English and Spanish), and to acquire a basic user level (A2.1) in at least one of the other four languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, or Russian). Ideally, the future graduate of Global Studies should learn to understand and use at least four of these six world languages through the degree’s optional courses or by other means.