A Plurilingual and Pluricultural Perspective for Languages Education

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A Plurilingual and Pluricultural Perspective for Languages Education
Une perspective plurilingue et pluriculturelle pour l’éducation aux langues



Languages education focuses on the broadening of the linguistic and cultural repertoires of language learners and learners in languages. However, it has often adopted a monolingual orientation to the teaching and learning of other languages in which languages and cultures have been seen as discrete and bounded, as the interrelationships between languages and cultures have often been seen as problematic and limiting, for example in terms of ‘interference’. Nonetheless, the linguistic and cultural realities of people who speak multiple languages and identify with multiple cultures reveal much more complex and integrated linguistic and cultural repertoires. Language use and intercultural engagement are characterised by variation, hybridity, fluidity and the bringing together of knowledge and practices from all parts of language learners’ linguistic and cultural repertoires, and this is what allows them to construct their participation in multiple linguistic and cultural communities.

In this ReN we offer as an alternative to such monolingual orientations a plurilingual and pluricultural orientation. We have deliberately chosen to frame this orientation as plurilingual and pluricultural because we feel these terms, which are widely used in Europe, offer a new lens through which to consider how language education can address the complexities of the learning of languages and cultures.

By plurilingualism we understand the uneven and changing repertoires that any person (speaker) has throughout his/her life and which may also vary according to communicative situations and modalities ; for example in the case of having excellent speaking repertoires in two languages but only good writing skills in one of them. By pluriculturalism we understand the uneven and changing cultural and intercultural repertoires any person (speaker) has throughout his/her life and which also fluctuate according to communicative situations; for example in the case of having a good knowledge of the culture of a community but a lesser knowledge of its language, or having less knowledge of a community whose dominant language is nevertheless well mastered (CEFR, 2001).  A plurilingual/pluricultural perspective presents a transitory profile of the speaker with a changing configuration of knowledge and capabilities as the norm. This does not imply instability, uncertainty, or lack of balance on the part of the person in question, but it does contribute, in the majority of cases, to an improved awareness of multiple acts of identity building (Bildung). The presentations of this seminar will consider the different ways that the teaching and learning of languages and cultures can enable language learners to develop complex and sophisticated repertoires of languages and cultures and, consequently, to make use of these when communicating in, and between, multiple languages in a diversity of cultural contexts.