Education. Engaging with foreign languages and cultures is becoming more important than ever before, not only for your CV but also for your own personal development. Here are some of the options you have at the RUB.
When they hear the word ‘international’, most people immediately think of the International Office (IO). The IO has a number of functions. In short, it “is responsible for the university‘s international activities” and “functions as the contact point for all things international at the university” (according to the description on the RUB website). It provides support for international guests coming to Bochum as well as home students who wish to study or complete an internship abroad. In other words, if you are a first-year student at the RUB and plan to go abroad, the IO is the ideal point of contact for initial information. The staff at the IO will also be happy to support you during your more detailed planning phase, for example with information and advice about financing your stay or partnerships with other universities.
If your main interest is learning a foreign language, you should go to the ZFA. “The ZFA is the place for all students and staff at RUB who would like to improve their foreign language skills or learn new languages – regardless of which subject they are studying or which degree they are aiming for”, says Nicola Jordan, Language Teacher and Deputy Head of Department at the ZFA. The ZFA has two divisions: German as a Foreign Language (DaF) which offers pre-sessional and in-sessional German courses and the Foreign Languages division which offers courses in fourteen different languages. If you complete a course successfully, you can earn credit points.
Moreover, the ZFA supports people who would like to learn a language with a tandem partner and also provides language learning coaching services. Jordan explains that “the Tandem Office can help students find their own tandem partner at the university or they can join one of the group tandem courses offered in cooperation with other universities.” In addition, the ZFA offers various examinations and certificates (for example UNIcert®, IELTS, DELE and CNaVT) and helps with general questions regarding the use of foreign languages.
Jordan advises students interested in learning a foreign language to start early, “preferably right at the beginning of your studies”. She explains: “Then you will have enough time to take advantage of the range of courses available at the RUB which will help you acquire vital and useful language skills. It’s unlikely that you will ever have such a good opportunity to develop your foreign language skills again.” According to Jordan, learners should think about their own existing language skills and also take into account if they need a specific language for their stay abroad. And last but not least “Come to the ZFA and ask us for advice!”
“The IO cooperates with the University Language Centre in many ways – but our roles are very different, with the ZFA being a centre for language training”, explains Jutta Schmid, Deputy Director and Erasmus Institutional Coordinator at the IO. Both institutions offer support to international students coming to the RUB as well as home students interested in going abroad. Jordan states: “In this context, foreign language skills often play a key role and the IO and ZFA cooperate in a number of areas, for example by offering German or English courses for international students or in relation to specific target groups, such as refugees. One of the joint projects involving the IO, the ZFA and the Akafö is the Sprachcafé, which takes place every Monday evening during the teaching period. It´s a very popular meeting place for local and international students.”