Presented at the AAAL Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 6 March, 2010.
This colloquium discussed a multilingual approach to language learning, language teaching and language assessment in school settings. This approach implies looking at language acquisition and use from a holistic perspective, taking into account not only the target language but all the languages known by the learner; such a perspective brings together the traditions of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and bi/multilingualism because it looks at the whole linguistic repertoire of learners when acquiring and using languages. This perspective does not regard the boundaries between languages as clear-cut; nevertheless, those boundaries are themselves used as a resource in communication. In contrast to traditional teaching approaches, code-mixing, code-switching and translanguaging are considered common practices in the behavior of multilingual learners. The multilingual approach also represents a reaction against the ‘monolingual bias’, which leads to the judging of multilingual speakers' competencies by native speaker norms. It also goes beyond common practices not only in foreign language classrooms but also in bilingual and multilingual schools.
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