Multilingualism and multiculturalism

This is quite a wide area in which languages and cultures play their role and intermingle, giving birth to a large variety of contexts, attitudes, ways of living and thinking.
Multilingualism – that is the use of more than one language either by an individual or by a group of speakers – has become an increasingly common global phenomenon, especially in the last two decades: multilingual speakers outnumber the monolingual ones in the world’s population and are more apt at language learning, beside being more open to intercultural dialogue and understanding. The study of multilingualism – language acquisition, language processing and the use of different languages in social contexts – is strictly related to neurolinguistics, socio and psycholinguistics, language policy and other social sciences.
Multiculturalism generally refers to the natural state of society that cannot but be diverse, namely multilingual, multi-ethnic and multireligious. It has its foundation on the complex notion of “culture”: the metaphor of the iceberg (Lázár et al. 2007), in which a rather limited proportion of concepts that we are aware of (language, works of art, dress, food and drink and so on) are visible, and a rather large, subconscious area of concepts that characterise our lives and ourselves as human beings (values and attitudes, for example) are invisible. Therefore, intercultural understanding and education have become more important than ever because they make it possible to address the root causes of some of the most virulent problems of today’s societies in the form of misunderstandings across cultural, socio-cultural, ethnic and other lines: discrimination, racism, hate speech and so on.

Intercultural competence for allCouncil of Europe 2012European document
Recommendation on plurilingual and intercultural educationCouncil of Europe 2022European document