7 - Multilingualism

Multilingualism is an ‘umbrella’ concept. It has different realities and functionalities, and numerous different meanings depending on the context they are used in.

For the EDINA project, we specify the meanings of the concept in the context of the school environment.
The reality:
1) Most of the classes, with or without newcomers are multilingual environments due to the presence of the individual multilingualism of students or teachers.
2) Most students obtain different multilingual repertoires; each of these repertoires is used in a specific context: a school, on the street, in public transport, and so on.

Functionality number 1:
Students mix these repertoires in everyday conversations as didactic capital for learning, ‘translanguaging in practice’. This is the communicative functionality of translanguaging.

Functionality number 2:
Make use of these translanguaging realities to empower the learning processes of students. This is

  • ‘functional multilingual learning’, and
  • ‘translanguaging as a pedagogical practice’ (other contexts).

Functionality number 3:
Pay attention to multilingualism as such. Make students, teachers, and school stakeholders aware of the multilingual environment and possibilities they have around them, and of the advantages it offers, e.g.: a marker for identity.

Functionality number 4:
Create meta-linguistic awareness, emphasize the (dis)similarities of your language of instructions to e.g. the Russian syntax if the occasion arises, or Vietnamese tones/pitches. This is called: “sharing grammars”.