In this course you will learn about Multilingualism, both as an aspect of societies and of individuals, in contemporary Europe as well as historically throughout the world. You will also learn about how policies can impact on Multilingualism societies and on education.

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Course Description


The course aims to explain what we mean by Multilingualism, since it is a term which is used both to describe a place where many languages are spoken as well as a person who speaks a number of languages. It will give examples of a number of multilingual policies and show how these reflect broader values in society, in Europe and also more widely. It will also will describe the various types of language policy which have been developed in response to an increasingly multilingual world and summarise what their effects have been.

We will also consider the value of people speaking a range of languages, and also the challenges that this poses not least for education system, looking at examples in a number of countries


After following this module you will be able to

- Understand the different meanings of the term Multilingualism
- Realise how important Multilingualism has been as a principle in the development of the European Union
- Understand something about multilingual societies throughout the world as well as historically
- Be able to discuss the benefits and challenges of Multilingualism
- Understand the different aspects of multilingual policy, and of language policy and planning
- Realise how policy on language is developed and implemented
- Have an appreciation of the challenges and potential of Multilingualism in the education system


1 Multilingualism in Europe
2 A Multilingual World
3 Multilingual Policy
4 Personal Multilingualism or Plurilingualism
5 The Challenge of Plurilingualism for Educators


  • Student code
  • Unit 1 - Multilingualism in Europe: An Overview
    • STEP ONE - Overview
    • STEP TWO - Definitions of Multilingualism
    • STEP THREE - Multilingual Societies
    • STEP FOUR – Benefits and Disadvantages of Multilingualism
    • STEP FIVE - Summarising Unit 1
  • Unit 2 - A Multilingual World
    • STEP ONE - Preparation
    • STEP TWO - Multilingualism in ancient Europe
    • STEP THREE - Multilingualism in the world
    • STEP FOUR - Is Monolingualism the Exception?
    • STEP FIVE - Summarising Unit 2
  • Unit 3. Multilingual Policy
    • Step 1 What is Policy?
    • Step 2 What kind of language?
    • Step 3 Language Policy and Planning
    • Step 4 Different types of language planning
    • Step 5 How policy is made
    • End of Unit Quiz
  • Unit 4 Personal Multilingualism or Plurilingualism
    • Step 1 Defining Plurilingualism
    • Step 2 Plurilingualism today
    • Step 3 The Age of Migration
    • Step 4 Linguistic Diversity in London
  • Unit 5. The Challenge of Plurilingualism for Educators
    • Step 1 Thinking about the issue
    • Step 2 Approaches to teaching in plurilingual classrooms
    • Step 3 Examples of Plurilingual Classrooms
    • Step 4 Language and Education
    • Step 5 Summing up
  • Final quiz

About Author

Dr Lid King, The Languages Company. Lid King has extensive experience of languages teaching, pedagogy and policy. As Director of CILT, the National Centre for Languages in the UK (1992-2003) he played a major part in expanding the work of the organisation, spearheading a range of national and European projects. Between September 2003 and April 2011 Lid was National Director for Languages for England with responsibility for the implementation of the English Languages Strategy. He also has extensive experience of languages in Europe and beyond. He has advised the European Commission, the Council of Europe and national governments on language policy as well as working on many European Projects - in particular in relation to language policy and urban multilingualism.