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Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe

Recent Developments and Challenges


Edited By Clive W. Earls

This book aims to tackle one of the most controversial and important linguistic, educational and societal debates in contemporary Europe. English is growing rapidly within, and spreading across, an increasing number of areas of society. This development is influenced by actions taken by national and supranational decision-makers, as well as global forces outside the control of any one state or political union. Europe’s founding principle of respecting and fostering diversity and equality of cultures and languages is being affected by the growing role of English across European countries, creating a de facto linguistic hierarchy and consequently a potential cultural hierarchy.

The essays collected here aim to examine existing debates and stimulate further discourse on the nurturing of multilingualism in Europe and the concomitant acquisition of English. By bringing together contributions focusing on multiple European countries and regions by researchers from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds, this volume presents a snapshot of the current relationship between multilingualism and English and explores the challenges generated by this situation.

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Plurilingual competence in multilingual Europe: Challenges and opportunities


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Plurilingual1 competence in multilingual Europe: Challenges and opportunities


In light of repeated Eurobarometer reports (2001, 2006, 2012) highlighting perceived low levels of foreign-language competence in the English-speaking countries, this chapter will consider some of the contradictions inherent in the European Union’s ‘mother tongue plus two’ ambition. It will explore the possibilities and dangers presented by a Europe which is already largely multilingual but where the role of English at the European institutional level is increasingly hegemonic. The issue of foreign-language learning on the European continent will be considered, as well as the challenges facing English-speaking countries in improving their foreign-language ← 7 | 8 → capabilities. Finally, the chapter will propose a number of ways in which these challenges might be addressed.

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