Mainz University starts international Master’s degree in Sociolinguistics and Multilingualism

Joint Master's degree program of the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz to begin in October 2013


Our society and our whole outlook on life are becoming increasingly globalized. National and cultural boundaries have become blurred by the rapid ways of modern communication and by international networking but also as a result of emigration, immigration, and the growth of international commuting. Transmobility and intercultural exchange have become essential to national and international organizations and institutions. Increasing migration and global integration have resulted in multilingualism growing ever more important, and with it goes mutual understanding, tolerance, mobility, and flexibility.

The new international Master's degree program Sociolinguistics and Multilingualism, which will begin in the winter semester 2013/2014, addresses exactly these aspects of multilingualism and internationalization. It is based on a joint degree concept, which is not yet widely used in Germany, but which is highly regarded internationally. Graduates will be awarded an international Master's degree from two universities: Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, where the students will spend the first semester, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), where they will complete the second semester of the four-semester degree program. Students can then choose to spend their third semester at one of the two partner universities, i.e., the University of Tartu in Estonia or Stockholm University in Sweden. During the fourth semester, the participants will then study at their supervisor's home university – in most cases, that will be Kaunas or Mainz. However, students can also apply to complete the program at Tartu or Stockholm.

The study program focuses on fostering a new understanding of multilingualism and sociolinguistics using the Nordic and Baltic countries as examples. The main topics that are to be studied during the program include linguistic variation, national languages in comparison with minority and migrant languages, the correlations between individual, group, nation, and society as well as the resulting relationship between language use and social structure. The diverse and dynamic European linguistic landscape with its expanding number of multilingual speakers will be at the focus of research.

During the two semesters abroad, students will acquire intercultural skills and experiences and also become competent in less widely spoken languages, such as Lithuanian and Estonian. Students will be made more aware of their own multilingualism through the program and will become internationally mobile. This will not only be a major formative influence on them during and after participation in the program but will also provide them with an excellent grounding for assuming a post in the international and multilingual professional world later on.