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Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe

Recent Developments and Challenges

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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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Introduction

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This book1 emanates from an international, interdisciplinary conference held at Maynooth University in June 2015 which aimed to tackle one of the most controversial and potentially impactful debates in contemporary Europe. English is growing rapidly within, and spreading across, an increasing number of societal domains. Such a development is impelled by actions taken by national and supranational decisions-makers, as well as global forces outside the control of any one state or union. Europe’s founding principle of respecting and fostering diversity and equality of cultures and language is being impinged upon by English’s growing role across European countries, creating a de facto linguistic hierarchy and consequently a potential cultural hierarchy. This book, therefore, aims to uncover existing debates and stimulate further discourse on the current state of affairs regarding the acquisition of English and the concomitant nurturing of multilingualism in twenty-first-century Europe. By bringing together contributions focusing on multiple European countries and regions by researchers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, it is envisaged that a current snapshot of some of the facets of the relationship between English and multilingualism can be presented in addition to an exploration of recent developments and challenges that such a situation brings with it.

In the first contribution, ‘Plurilingual competence in multilingual Europe: Challenges and opportunities’, Anne Gallagher considers some of the contradictions inherent in the European Union’s ‘mother tongue plus two’ ambition. She explores the possibilities and dangers presented by a ← 1 | 2 → Europe which is already largely multilingual but...

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