Member stories: a passion for languages and communication

Member stories: a passion for languages and communication

We’re kicking off the new year with another series of posts highlighting the stories of EAIE members. This time we’ve interviewed a handful of newly elected 2014–2016 leaders. Check out this first story featuring Jennifer Valcke, a member of the EAIE Expert Community Steering group, Languages for Intercultural Communication and Mobility (LICOM), and recent winner of the 2014 Rising star award. Read about her passion for languages and communication and where it stems from!


What is your role at your institution?

I am currently Pedagogical Advisor in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels, Belgium. I have implemented a pedagogical and linguistic support programme for teachers and students involved in English-medium instruction at the ULB across disciplines. CLIL has a dual-focus: development of knowledge and acquisition of language. On the one hand, this programme supports and trains teaching staff through courses, seminars and workshops on CLIL; and on the other, it helps students develop the language skills they need through online tools and writing workshops.

Why did you decide to start working in the field of international higher education?

I have always wanted to go into teaching and research, and have taught both content courses and language courses. My background is in modern languages, literature and cinema and my career has enabled me to integrate all my past experience in order to train teachers and support students. I believe my atypical profile has afforded me a multifaceted approach to teaching and learning which, in turn, supports my teacher training activities.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

To my mind, working in education is a privilege as it enables you to meet people of all ages and cultures. It is also extremely rewarding to see the progress of those I train and support. I really do believe that CLIL will cause a paradigm shift in education, fostering better learning and teaching practices across all levels of education.

What words of wisdom do you have for those starting in the higher education industry?

Work on your languages and intercultural communication skills! They are so vital in the rapidly changing world of international education. Also, don’t hesitate to be innovative in your work and to disseminate your knowledge as much as you can.

 What is a little known fact about you?

I have Belgian and British parents, but grew up in Nigeria. I have always been fascinated by African culture, music and languages. Growing up in a different culture opened my eyes to a radically different worldview, full of different cultures and languages – I believe this is where my passion for languages and communication was born!