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The Influence of Multilingual Identity on Foreign Language Learning

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This presentation provides an overview of the Education strand of the MEITS project (Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies), which investigates how multilingualism, and the extent to which one identifies as multilingual, influence additional language learning. The research charts the development of multilingual identity, by which we mean individuals’ explicit understandings of themselves as users of more than one language, and focuses on the secondary school foreign language classroom as the context for the construction of multilingual identity.

In an increasingly globalised society and with the consequent intensification of the multilingual profile of many school classrooms, there is a growing need to understand the extent to which a reciprocal relationship exists between the development of multilingual and transcultural identity and foreign language learning. We will present preliminary findings from a large survey of secondary school pupils, and report on ongoing collaboration with MFL teachers from a range of schools across the East of England to develop a pedagogical intervention of identity-focused activities to help learners to identify themselves as multilingual, with a view to improving motivation and achievement in school and promoting greater engagement with language learning across the lifespan.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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