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Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe

Recent Developments and Challenges


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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Changing learner motivations for the study of languages in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their implications for multilingualism in this region



In this chapter, we focus on changing learner motivations for the study of languages in addition to the mother tongue(s), referred to here as ‘additional languages’, in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In order to track these changes, we review the relevant secondary literature as well as the findings of two exploratory, qualitative studies of groups of university students in eastern Germany and school pupils in Hungary. Based on our analysis, we suggest that this region is experiencing a shift towards a more instrumental, utilitarian motivational orientation in the study of additional languages in formal education. We also note that this shift appears to favour the study of English as an International Language at the potential expense of multilingualism in the region as a whole. The material is presented in four sections. In the first, we contextualize language learning in CEE before and after the collapse of communism. In the second, we present different learner motivational types applicable in our context. This provides a basis for reflecting on the shifts in learner motivational types taking place in CEE in the third section. The focus here is placed on two languages, English and Russian, in Hungary and eastern Germany. Finally, in the fourth section, the implications of the changes in learner motivation for the study of additional languages for the linguistic profile of these countries/regions and for CEE as a whole are discussed. ← 83 | 84 →

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