Content Module 2: Global Englishes and Multilingual English Speakers
Have you ever heard the term ‘multilingual’ or ‘multilingualism’ before? One is often used to describe a person and the other to name an ability. Which one do you think refers to a person? What does it mean?
What is ‘multilingualism’?
One way to understand such terms as ‘multilingual’ is to break them down into smaller parts. For instance, the word ‘multilingual’ can be separated into two parts: ‘multi’ and ‘lingual’. The term ‘multi’ is a . The word ‘multi’ comes from the Latin word ‘multus’, which means ‘many’. The word ‘lingual’ comes from the Latin word ‘lingua’, which means ‘language’. When you combine the two words, a unique meaning is derived.
The word ‘multlingual’, when used as an adjective, refers to someone who can use many languages. When the ‘ism’ is added to this word, the meaning becomes more abstract. In this case, ‘multilingualism’ refers to the ability to use two or more languages, including sign language, for communication.
Do you think there are benefits to being multilingual? What might those benefits be?
Watch this video of school children in the U.K. who speak more than one language and also want to learn more languages.
How does the ability to speak two or more languages impact the speaker and the way in which s/he communicates with others?
Watch the talk titled ‘Citizens of the World: The Multilingual Child and Adult’ below by Dr. Edwin Gerard, given at a TEDx event in 2013, about multlingualism in children and adults.
At one point in his talk, Dr. Edwin Gerard says, “You can’t really scratch the surface of another culture, if you don’t speak…the language of that culture.” Would you agree or disagree with this statement?
- The expression 'scratch the surface' can be understood in two different ways. Look up the definitions and then try to understand which of the two definitions applies to what Dr. Gerard was saying in the video. ↵
a word placed in front of another word to add to or modify the meaning of that root word
a word or letters added to the end of a word to modify the meaning of the root word in a specific way