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Defining Multilingualism

  • Jasone Cenoz
Abstract

This article looks at the definitions and scope of multilingualism and the different perspectives used in its study. Multilingualism is a very common phenomenon that has received much scholarly attention in recent years. Multilingualism is also an interdisciplinary phenomenon that can be studied from both an individual and a societal perspective. In this article, several dimensions of multilingualism are considered, and different types of multilingualism are discussed. The article summarizes the themes researched in various areas of the study of multilingualism such as neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, linguistics, education, sociolinguistics, and language policy. These areas look at language acquisition and language processing as well as the use of different languages in social contexts and adopt a variety of research methodologies. The last section of the article compares monolingual and holistic perspectives in the study of multilingualism, paying special attention to new approaches developed in the past few years that argue for establishing more fluid boundaries between languages.

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Cook, V., & Bassetti, B. (Eds.). (2011). Language and bilingual cognition. Oxford, UK: Psychology Press.

This edited book explores the relationship between language and cognition. The volume is divided into three parts: (a) the relationship between language and cognition, (b) bilingual cognition, and (c) applications and implications of bilingual cognition research. The volume explores the relationship between language and cognition in different domains of thinking, including time, space and motion, reason, and emotion and sensory perception. This volume can certainly be of great interest for students and researchers.

De Groot, A. M. B. (2011). Language and cognition in bilinguals and multilinguals: An introduction. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

This monograph looks at individual multilingualism from a psycholinguistic approach. This substantial, introductory text of more than 500 pages provides an up-to-date account of comprehension, production, and acquisition processes. The volume also discusses the cognitive consequences of multilingualism and neuropsychological aspects of multilingualism. It is a very welcome contribution to studies on multilingualism that can be highly recommended both to students and researchers.

García, O. (2009). Introducing bilingual education. In García, O. (Ed.), Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective (pp. 317). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

This volume presents a holistic approach to the study of multilingual education. The author proposed a new paradigm looking at the complexity and dynamics of multilingual education. This book is highly recommended for all those interested in multilingual education and multiple discursive practices in school contexts. The book contains 15 chapters and covers a range of topics: translanguaging, educational policies, assessment, education practices, and multiliteracy.

Li, W., & Moyer, M. (Eds.). (2008). The Blackwell handbook of research methods on bilingualism and multilingualism (pp. 317). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

This edited volume contains 22 chapters and specifically addresses methodological issues when conducting research on multilingualism. It provides a theoretical background of research in bilingualism, but the main focus is on procedures, methods, and tools. The last part of the volume provides ideas for projects and dissemination and provides sources on multilingualism. It is an excellent multidisciplinary guide for students and new researchers in multilingualism.

Martin-Jones, M., Blackledge, A., & Creese, A. (Eds.). (2012). The Routledge handbook of multilingualism. London, UK: Routledge.

This edited volume contains 32 chapters and focuses on sociolinguistic and ethnographic research in multilingualism. It looks at discourses about multilingualism in social, cultural, and political contexts; multilingualism in education; multilingualism in other institutional sites; multilingualism in social and cultural change; and multilingual practices. It is an outstanding contribution to the study of societal multilingualism.

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Annual Review of Applied Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0267-1905
  • EISSN: 1471-6356
  • URL: /core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics
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