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Multilingual practices and attitudes among university students in Europe and the US: implications for the teaching of languages

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The focus of this talk is on the intersection between multilingualism, language learning and higher education. The constantly increasing voluntary and forced mobility of people resulting from the forces of globalisation and political instabilities in various regions are having a dramatic impact on the linguistic make up of many nation-states, especially in Europe. New forms of linguistic diversity and multilingualism are emerging. To date the impact of the linguistic aspects of globalization have not yet been explored on how they affect university students. As universities play a key role in the preparation of the next generation of global citizens, it is important to gauge students’ linguistic profiles and practices, their attitudes to multilingualism as well as their language learning motivations and needs.

In this paper I will present a project that focuses on these issues in relation to language learning students in nine countries and will also outline some of the possible consequences of these development for the teaching and learning of (foreign) languages in universities.

Anne Pauwels is currently Professor of Sociolinguistics at SOAS , University of London. She received her degree in Germanic Philology from the University of Antwerp (Belgium), and her MA and PhD (Linguistics) from Monash University, Australia. Her research focuses on language and communication in social context with specific attention to multilingualism, language maintenance and shift in migration settings, minority languages, language policy in relation to heritage languages, (foreign) language learning in university settings, and the relationship between language, gender, ethnicity and culture. She has written extensively on these subjects including papers in internationally refereed journals and several books, e.g. Immigrant dialects and language maintenance in Australia (1986), Raising children bilingually (1993), Women changing language (1998), Boys and foreign language learning (2005) and Language maintenance and shift (2016) Her current research grants focus on multilingual practices of young people around the world (OWRI-AHRC) and on language issues in European refugee camps (ANR, France).

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

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