How is it, to be multilingual?

February 21, 2017 2:59 pm

21st of February is the International Mother Language Day. Let’s celebrate it by reading more about multilingualism and how to be multilingual.

In today’s modern and globalized world, the number of bilingual / multilingual people grows every day, many countries now can also be called multilingual. But not all multilingual people speak several languages from their childhood. Many of them have to learn several languages just because they are studying / working / living in a multilingual environment.

Multilingualism

In today’s modern and globalized world, the number of bilingual / multilingual people grows every day, many countries now can also be called multilingual. But not all multilingual people speak several languages from their childhood. Many of them have to learn several languages just because they are studying / working / living in a multilingual environment.

Multilingualism is definitely a great thing – you can speak and think in different languages – you have not only one but several keys to this world! However, there are also less pleasant aspects of multilingualism, like when you mix up the languages. This happens habitually at the beginning of the learning process: if you want to say something, you think in the first place in which language you have to say it, and this takes time. In such situations you can feel really stupid. Then, you can confuse the languages, especially if you are missing a word in one language, but you know it in the other. Sometimes it can be actually exciting and funny, but incomprehensible to the people you are speaking to. Very many students, who do their studies in several languages, make their notes in two or three languages at the same time. It is interesting, how and why they choose this or that language for their class notes.

multilingual

Children who are raised in multilingual families are in a similar situation. There are even different methods, how to develop true multilingualism in these children.

The topic of multilingualism is nowadays particularly popular in the field of cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics. For example, Panos Athanasopoulos, professor of Linguistics and English Language from Lancaster University tells us how the language you speak changes your view of the world . In this article he speaks about English-German bilingual speakers, how they behave in different situations when they hear and speak German or English.

The researcher emphasizes also how important and useful it is to speak several languages. This is like you are not just a one person, but several and you also have multiple mental structures. Is this not great? So, let’s learn foreign languages!


Sofia PimonovaWritten by Sofia Pimonova – study visitor from the University of Luxembourg. Studying a MA in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts. She is also enrolled in a MA in Applied Linguistics and Linguodidactics at Tambov State University named after G. R. Derzhavin (Russia). BA in German Philology, she is also a German teacher and a translator. Russian Mother Tongue, fluent in German and learning English and Chinese. Follow her blog about how is the life and her studies in Luxembourg.

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