Multilingualism and Education

Thematic Area C "Multilingualism and Education" aims at clarifying the shift form bi- to multilingualism, with a focus on multi-competence.

Summary Results

  • Using English as a lingua franca does not necessarily discourage people from learning further languages, and native speakers of English are not necessarily more successful in communicating in multilingual contexts than non-natives.
    >>> read article
  • Language classroom cultures in some cases focus on proficiency in German, but often neglect other vital skills for successful communication.
    >>> read article
  • Teaching methodologies for state language teaching are in need of modernization in Romania and Slovakia.
    >>> read article
  • In situations where non-native speakers of English mainly communicate with other non-native speakers of English, they use English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). ELF speakers effectively use a number of strategies for communication and learning, which make them successful communicators.
    >>> read article
  • The family seems to play a crucial role in helping immigrant students to maintain and value the home language, according to research conducted in the UK, Italy and Austria. Although home languages are very important to these students, they do not often use them at school and in formal contexts, but in some cases exclusively with their family.
    >>> read article
  • English enjoys a high prestige among the Hungarian-speaking minority students in Romania, Serbia and Slovakia as well as among the German-speaking minority students in Romania. English also has a high value in foreign language teaching, where teachers try to use only English in the classroom.
    >>> read article


Research Area Report C


Second phase: Key findings "Multilingualism and Education" 

Research Area Report C

First phase: Key findings "Multilingualism and Education" 

LINEE Newsletter,
January 2010

Latest results on all thematic areas

LINEE-Newsletter, August 2009

Results of "Multilingualism and Education", onging research and more

Description Thematic Area C

The second phase of LINEE Thematic Area C builds on the theoretical and empirical work accomplished during the first phase, centring on the concept of "multicompetence". This concept was originally proposed by psycholinguists to stress the integrated nature of the language competence(s) possessed by second language learners. It is interpreted by the LINEE teams working on
multilingualism and education to capture the plurilingual competences developed, possessed and used by individuals in multilingual social settings, i.e. a more sociolinguistic perspective has been added to the concept.
In this new phase, the three work packages within Thematic Area C will further investigate the development of multicompetence of different types of learner, in different levels and stages of education, using a combination of direct observations of learners in and out of classrooms, and also extensive ethnographic interviewing.

Overview of the new Workpackages

Work package 7a is concerned with the formal and informal language development of university students, and specifically with the addition of English as a lingua franca (ELF) to their existing linguistic repertoires, and its use within communities of practice formed during exchange visits. This Europeanlevel strand of activity will involve ethnographic fieldwork among Erasmus students in Szeged and Prague, observing and documenting their language practices and evolving use of ELF in particular. A further strand of the work will investigate attitudes towards ELF among international users and also among native speakers of English (both monolinguals and multilinguals); this work will be located in Szeged, Prague and Southampton. The specific aims are to investigate how ELF is evolving within such groups independently of reference to Standard English norms, and also the acceptability of such usages outside the formative groups. Work package 8a focuses on the multicompetence of teenage immigrant students, attending secondary schools in the south of England, Italy and Austria. Through ethnographic interviews, the research will
document these students' perceptions of their own multicompetence and how they use their current multilingual repertoire. As with Work package 7a, the interplay between formal educational experiences and informal learning in other communities of practice will be investigated, with a special focus in this
case on how formal educational policies and classroom approaches impact on these students' self perceptions and evolving linguistic abilities across their whole multilingual  epertoire.

Work package 9a deals with the multicompetence of children belonging to local autochthonous minorities, in the SudTirol, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. Like Work package 8a, this work package will take place in the school setting, but will use the EFL classroom as a main focus for empirical investigation (thus creating a further link with work package 7a). The team will carry out classroom observations paying particular attention to the roles and uses of all available languages in the classroom setting (target language, official "national" language, heritage language(s)). The contribution of school policies and classroom experiences to the learners' evolving multicompetence, and attitudes towards the various components of the multilingual repertoire, will be explored through ethnographic interviews with students and teachers among other tools. Overall this new phase of Thematic Area C can be expected to deepen our understanding of multicompetence as it is perceived and operated by individuals within a wide variety of educational settings. The interplay between formal and informal learning in the promotion of multicompetence will also become better understood, and implications for the scope and nature of effective educational interventions to support the further development of multicompetence can be drawn.