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Multilingual Practices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities

Learn about central aspects of multilingualism in today's globalised societies, such as cognition, policies and education.

12,903 enrolled on this course

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Multilingual Practices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities

12,903 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

In a world of globalisation, people who do not share the same language meet more often every day. Being able to deal with these multilingual practices in an effective way can give you an advantage in your daily life and work.

The challenges and opportunities that we will speak of will be recognisable for learners. The course will also introduce you to real multilingual families who will share their personal experiences with their multilingual situations with you. The issues arising from the individual situations of our families will then be looked at from a scientific perspective.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Thousands of languages are spoken around the world, and if you walk the streets of larger cities, you’ll hear hundreds of different speech varieties around you. We can say that 300 languages are spoken in London alone. Worldwide, there are more multilingual people than mono-linguals. Due to migration, multilingualism is all around us. It’s in the streets, at schools, on the workfloor, and perhaps even in your home. Knowledge about multilingualism can be an advantage to your life, and give you answers to questions such as how to raise your children multilingually, or how to deal with colleagues from a different language background. Do you feel that you live in a multilingual society? Or are you a multilingual? Do you work in a multilingual environment?

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds Or would you like to know what multilingualism does to your brain? Maybe you’d like to learn more about minority languages. Or you might be curious about language policies. If so, this free online course, Multilingual Practices, may be for you. Welcome to the University of Groningen, one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands. The University has branches in the city of Groningen, but also in Leeuwarden, the capital of the multilingual province of Friesland. My name is Nanna Hilton, and I am an assistant professor teaching in our Bachelor programme, Minorities and Multilingualism, as well as in our Masters programme in Multilingualism. I would like to invite you to join our course and to start exploring multilingual practices.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 seconds After taking this course, you’ll be familiar with key theories in linguistics relating to multilingualism. And you’ll be able to join the conversation about language in your home community. We’ll show you how to do research on multilingualism, and how to tackle some of the issues that arise when people who do not share the same languages meet. So join us as we explore one of the most interesting and wonderful challenges of today’s societies, multilingualism.


  • Week 1

    Urban multilingualism and language policies

    • Introduction to the course

      In this activity, you will be introduced to our four-week course. You will find out about the topics, the work forms and the learning outcomes.

    • Introduction to the week

      In the first activity of Week 1 you will learn about multilingualism and will share your own views on what it means to be multilingual.

    • Language ideologies

      In this activity, you will learn more about language ideologies and how they reflect the different statuses of languages in society. For this, you will make your own language hierarchy.

    • Linguistic landscape

      In this activity you will reflect about multilingualism in the linguistic landscape around you. You will share photos of languages you see in your everyday life and learn how to analyse different languages present in urban spaces.

    • Language policies

      In this activity you will learn about different language policies that foster multilingualism. You will reflect on endangered languages throughout the world and come up with your own policy to protect them.

    • Conclusion to the week

      In this last activity of the week you will listen to a summary of the first week and find out what is expecting you in the next week of our course on multilingual practices.

  • Week 2

    Multilingual communities

    • Introduction to the week

      In this activity, you will be introduced to the topics of the week. This week is about family language maintenance and multilingualism in the workplace.

    • Language policy in the family

      In this activity, you will learn about research on family language policies to support language maintenance and/or transmission within multilingual families.

    • Multilingualism at home and home language maintenance

      In the following steps, you will discuss your views on language maintenance in multilingual families, you will meet two multilingual families and reflect on their family language policies up to the third generation.

    • Multilingualism in the workplace

      In this activity, you will conduct online research on the role of multilingualism in the workplace and share your own experiences. You will gain understanding on the economic benefits of fostering multilingualism in society.

    • Conclusion to the week

      In this last activity of our second week, you will watch a summary of the main points of this week on multilingual communities and multilingualism in the workplace.

  • Week 3

    Multilingualism in education and cognition

    • Introduction to the week

      In this activity, you will be introduced to the topics of the week: multilingualism in education and cognition. You will also share your ideas about the use of several languages in education.

    • Multilingualism and education

      In this activity, you will read about different models for multilingual education. You will also explore a trilingual school (English, Dutch and Frisian) which decided to embrace all other languages of its pupils for instruction.

    • The role of English in education

      In this activity, you will discuss the role of the English language within education systems around the world. You will also find out more about the acquisition of English by multilingual pupils.

    • Multilingualism and cognition

      In this activity, you will be our guinea pig in a cognitive experiment! You will visit an eye-tracker lab and will listen to an expert summarising research on the relationship between multilingualism and cognitive skills.

    • Conclusion to the week

      In the last activity of our third week, you will listen to a summary of this week’s topics: multilingualism in education and cognition. You will also be informed on what comes in our last week.

  • Week 4

    Multilingualism and minorities

    • Introduction to the week

      In this activity, you will explore the topics of our last course week: types of minority languages, news speakers of minority languages and language contact.

    • Types of minority languages

      In this set of activities, you will learn about the different types of minority languages and will become an expert in your own minority language.

    • New speakers of minority languages

      In this activity you'll meet a Frisian-Dutch family whose daily communication takes place in the minority language, Frisian. You will learn about what new speakers of minority languages are and their relevance for these languages.

    • Language contact

      In this activity you'll explore language contact and variation or what happens when languages come into contact with each other. You will also share your own examples of what happens when languages influence each other.

    • Conclusion to the course

      In the last activity of our course, you will watch a summary of the week and an overview of the topics of the course. We hope you have enjoyed it!

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify central aspects around societal and individual multilingualism
  • Evaluate the benefits of multilingualism of both minority and migrant speakers
  • Identify issues that arise when people who do not share the same languages meet
  • Critically evaluate multilingual language policies for both migrant and minority languages
  • Investigate multilingual practices

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at a wide range of people with an interest in multilingualism such as migrants, linguistics and language students, teachers, language policy makers, professionals who are working in a multilingual environment or parents, who are considering to raise their children multilingually.

It may also be an interesting addition for learners who participated in University of Southampton’s course on Understanding Language.

However, no prior knowledge is required to take part in the course and we welcome anyone who is curious to know more about multilingual practices.

Who will you learn with?

I'm an applied linguist at the University of Groningen. My research and teaching center around multilingualism and cognition and multilingual aging.

I'm an assistant professor in sociolinguistics at the University of Groningen. My teaching and research is concerned with minority language issues and linguistic diversity, variation, and change.

Who developed the course?

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

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Develop skills to further your career

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  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 10 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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