Multilingualism and Language Education

Authored by: Ofelia García

The Routledge Companion to English Studies

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415676182
eBook ISBN: 9781315852515
Adobe ISBN: 9781317918929


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Although multilingualism is the norm in the world, the English-speaking world often dismisses the value of languages other than English (LOTEs). This is because of the stature of English as a powerful world language — the language of empire, imperialism, and globalization. Thus, speakers born to monolingual English-speaking parents often see themselves as superior to those who speak other languages, and self-sufficient in their monolingualism. The field of English language teaching has seldom paid any attention to the multilingualism of students of English, often dismissing what students know or understand in languages other than English. This chapter attempts to elucidate the relationship between multilingualism and English language education. It considers how, despite the blinders about multilingualism in the language education field of English-language-dominant countries, English language education has been a catalyst for the growing multilingualism in the world and for the growth of bilingual education. At the same time, this chapter looks at how students’ multilingualism impacts upon English language education both in countries considered English speaking and in countries where English is an additional language.

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