Multilingualism and Multiculturalism

Multilingualism and Multiculturalism
Multilingualism and Multiculturalism

Do you have practice in communicating and understanding different cultures? If so, you might be a multilingual individual.

 

Multiculturalism is the integration of various styles, ethnicities, and languages. You’ll often find it in entertainment, but that’s not the only way to encounter it. It’s all around us – on clothing we wear or even the food we eat. It’s an important global aspect of life that we should all be more aware of.

 

Lot’s of people are introduced to the term “multiculturalism” in grade school, when they learn about diversity in their family tree. For example, students may learn that one parent is from a different country than the other. They may find this out while going through old photo albums or looking at old documents.

 

Multilingualism can be considered a subset of multiculturalism. It refers to the ability to speak more than one language, either because you were born into it or because you learned it at some point in your life.

 

Just like multiculturalism, multilingualism is crucial for helping countries understand one another and work together on larger projects and goals. Scholars from around the world have been studying this concept for decades, and a variety of research has been conducted.

 

In her book “Talking Points: Multilingualism and Multiculturalism,” author Rosemary C.A. Hiscock defines multilingualism as “a set of linguistic capabilities including speaking, comprehension, reading and writing in two or more languages”.

 

However, the definitions vary greatly depending on the researcher (e.g., some scholars use it to refer to those who speak two or more languages while others use it to refer to those who are proficient in two or more languages). When looking at the definitions, it becomes clear that speaking two or more languages is not the only way to be multilingual.

 

Many people see bilingualism as a natural result of being raised in a specific culture. Others see language as being inherently tied to nationality and ethnicity. With so many different types of people living in diverse communities, it’s important to be aware of some common issues that come up. These include:

 

Language barriers can arise in many ways, depending on the circumstances of how two or more languages are used and what they are used for. The differences between languages stem from how they were formed, including regional variations as well as formal standardizations from a governing body (e.g., French vs French Canadian).

Image: Pexels

 

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