Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Plurilingualism dimension in the ESL class

First of all: Plurilingualism or multilingualism?

"Plurilingualism is a situation wherein a person who has competence in more than one language can switch between languages – from one language to another and vice versa – according to the circumstances at hand for the purpose of coping with a social matter.

Multilingualism, on the other hand, is connected to situations wherein multiple languages exist side-by-side in a society but are utilized separately.

Plurilingualism is derived from bilingualism. A consequence of plurilingualism is pluricultural competence.
In general, persons who are identified as plurilinguals had had contact with foreign languages through educational institutions; however the education system plays only a small role in the linguistic competence of these individuals". 

The teaching and learning of foreign languages has become paramount for the European identity construction, and intercultural and multilingual education contributes to the integral development of the individual.

The ability to interact with different languages makes communicative competence to take a new dimension as it can transfer knowledge from one language to another, it opens the range of resources to facilitate access to information and it allows social relationships.

During this school year I have planned different activities for the students to be in contact with different languages at the same time.

Some of these activities have been carried out with multilingual documents and they evaluate plurilingual strategies that students should be able to use for comparisons in the lexicon, in linguistic structures of different languages and in the making of new words from their own language.

For this, I have used multilingual instructive documents that come with lots of gadgets: a device operating instruction, instructions of a game or a recipe... I have used more complex texts as well: brochures of a castle, a park, a museum or exhibition.

For the activity described here I used the document "Pla d’Emergències davant les nevades” (Emergency Plan before snowfall)", published by the Generalitat of Catalonia in four different languages: Català, Castellano, English and Française

It can be done in two sessions, as long as it we have previously worked this dimension and plurilingualism strategies during all the primary education. I started the activity by reading the text in one language. Then, we observed the structure of the text: title, subtitles, paragraphs, key vocabulary...

Then, we compared the text and its grammatical structure, observing regularities between languages, common structures and common functions. We also practice some strategies for the comprehension of different texts in a multilingual environment.

Finally, I proposed a worksheet with three activities (in my case the instructions are in Catalan, but if the level is good enough it can be written in English), and I left time for solving them (without the help of dictionaries, of course!).

Since the objective of this work is to evaluate Plurilingualism and Intercultural Competence, students worked alone and were evaluated according to a rubric designed for this specific purpose. A self evaluation was also done in order to reflect on the strategies they used to complete the tasks.

You can get the complete plan, worksheet and rubric of this task in

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