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Becoming Multilingual

Language Learning and Language Policy between Attitudes and Identities


Edited By Konrad Bergmeister and Cecilia Varcasia

Research into the complex phenomenon of multilingualism is rapidly increasing. This book looks at multilingualism through its interfaces with language policies, language attitudes and issues of language awareness and identity. The aim is to examine the dynamic processes that lead or hinder the development of such phenomena. One of the scopes of the volume is to represent the complexity of the multilingual speaker by shedding light on different multilingual settings in the world. The chapters of this volume tackle the topic from a sociolinguistic perspective by showing how multilingualism is dynamically constructed. They provide empirical research on language learning in different multilingual environments in the world as well as practical suggestions for the investigation of multilingualism and the improvement of its education.


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ENRICA CORTINOVIS - Eliciting Multilingualism: Investigating Linguistic Diversity in Schools - 87


ENRICA CORTINOVIS Eliciting Multilingualism: Investigating Linguistic Diversity in Schools 1. Introduction It is now common knowledge that bi- and multilingualism are by far the most widespread sociolinguistic conditions (Grosjean 1982)1. Nonetheless, it is still very difficult to gather first-hand information on phenomena such as bi- or multilingual language use and to elicit spon- taneous bi- or multilingual data (cf. Nortier 2008: 35 for similar con- siderations on bilingual data collection). Such a difficult task compli- cates even further in the case of so-called new minority speech com- munities resulting from migratory waves. Unlike historical, territorially- bound minority languages, migrant languages do not usually receive any official acknowledgement or widespread prestige. When they do, acknowledgement is only covert and, by definition, difficult to elicit. The aim of this chapter is thus to discuss whether and how so- cietal multilingualism can be observed and elicited in communities where a large portion of the population is characterized by individual multilingualism. In addition, it endeavors to verify what sociolinguis- tic patterns can be detected. Examples of such communities are schools and secondary schools in particular, which can be regarded as small-scale models of society where social structures develop in a semi-experimental setting (Eckert 2000: 5). Apart from constituting adolescents’ main socialization environment, schools constitute typi- 1 This chapter was presented as a paper jointly with Silvia Dal Negro at the L3 Conference, Bolzano, 10-12 September 2009. However, the author is the sole responsible for the data analysis and research carried out here. I...

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