First Virtual International Conference at the TH Aschaffenburg

Category: Englisch

Virtual International Language Days including Intercultural Communication successfully organized online


The Language Centre of Aschaffenburg UAS organized its first "Virtual International Language Days (ILDs) including Intercultural Communication" on 23 and 24 November 2020 under the motto "Viral Collaboration = Virtual Miscommunication?”. This motto, inspired by the current pandemic and the resulting new digital forms of collaboration, is a pun on the English terms "virus" and "to go viral" and was also the subject of the opening lecture.

The virtual event was attended by around 70 lecturers and trainers from the field of languages and intercultural communication from 16 countries (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Great Britain, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, USA and Ecuador); among them were numerous representatives of partner universities of Aschaffenburg UAS.

In addition to two top-class keynotes, the conference programme also included 25 academic lectures and workshops from all over the world, a market place and a partner fair for initiating research and institutional partnerships - not only for teachers and trainers, but also for students interested in studying abroad. Selected master students and doctoral candidates of the interdisciplinary doctoral programme of Aschaffenburg UAS were part of the conference programme; some of the workshops were integrated into regular lectures within the framework of internationalisation@home in order to enable as many students as possible to experience international flair in the times of Covid-19.
The guests were equally impressed by the conference programme ("Very inspiring and rich in content. Bravo!") as well as by the three-dimensionality and aesthetics of the virtual congress platform, which was specially adapted for the event and almost felt like a real congress centre (see photos on the right). Here are a few user opinions:
“Very aesthetic, a true work of art. This should actually be awarded a prize".
"The virtual forum looks really professional and makes an excellent impression on me. :-)“
"Wow, this is really real and three-dimensional! Bravo!"
"The virtual lounge is cool and so is the whole website!"
"The virtual lobby looks great."
“The lobby and the booths are really beautiful. It's such a great idea, I have never seen solutions like that.”
„Congrats for your high-tech lobby, amazing!”


The experience of a ‘real’ conference feeling was also enhanced by the offer of a virtual supporting programme with a digital city tour through Aschaffenburg and a network party with musical accompaniment at the end of the two congress days.
For the initiator and organiser of the event, Prof. Dr. Renate Link, the hosting of a virtual format was also a new experience; she herself had taken part in various international online conferences in the run-up to the event, where she had gained best-practice know-how and was also able to incorporate experiences from her professional stations in the tourism industry. The extremely positive conclusion of the participants: “Better than most "real" conferences!”

This virtual event replaced the fifth International Language Week (ILW) originally planned on the campus of Aschaffenburg UAS on the occasion of the anniversary year 2020, which had to be postponed to November 2021 due to the current situation.
The last four ILWs took place in 2015 & 2017 at Aschaffenburg UAS, 2018 at the National Taipei University of Business/Taiwan and 2019 at the Montana State University Billings/USA (both partner universities of Aschaffenburg UAS). Further rotations with foreign partner institutions and Aschaffenburg UAS as co-host are planned for the future; the next digital rotation will continue early as February 2021 at Aschaffenburg’s partner university Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences in Finland: https://www.seamk.fi/en/cooperate-with-us/international-activities/

Further information on the concept of International Language Week and International Language Days can be found at www.th-ab.de/ilw.