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Free online course

Multilingual Practices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities

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


  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, starting from when you join
  • No certificate


  • Unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Multilingual Practices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities


Why join the course?

Multilingualism is all around us and it plays an important role in today’s society. In a world of globalisation, people who do not speak 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 main aim of this interactive course by the department of Frisian Language and Culture and Campus Fryslân of the University of Groningen is to deepen your understanding of the most important aspects of societal and individual multilingualism. Examples of the topics the course will be tackling are: what language ideologies arise in multilingual societies? How does multilingualism change the urban scenery around us? To what extent do families transmit their multiple languages to the following generations? What are the benefits and challenges of multilingual education? And what are recent trends in policy-making around multilingualism?

Who is this course for?

This course will thus cover a wide range of subjects, making it attractive for a broad audience. For instance, policy makers or other learners who are interested in how people speaking different languages can best be integrated will find out more about successful policies to support multilingualism in education and society. The same goes for teachers and parents who want to learn more about how to give multilingual children the best opportunities at developing their skills and talents and how multiple languages work in our mind.

Actual practice

The challenges that we will speak of will be recognisable for learners. The course will also introduce you to real families for whom multilingualism is an important factor in daily life. They will share their personal experiences with their multilingual situations with you, such as their doubt about whether they should teach their children their mother tongue or the language of the country they are living in - or both. The issues arising from the individual situations of our families will then be looked at from a scientific perspective. Every week, renowned experts in the field of multilingualism will comment on the central concepts of the week. In addition, you will read texts prepared also by key-researchers providing you with a summary of the field in question.

Apart from the individual perspective of the families, the course highlights the challenges and opportunities of today’s multilingual societies. Current societal issues will thus be tackled: how can societies profit from their multilingual speakers? Or: how to design language policies that assure the protection of minority languages? These are questions that still must be answered in most of today’s globalised societies. The course will help you to look for your own answers.

Course outline

Over four weeks, this course will explore how multilingualism can work on personal, scientific and policy levels. We will look at:

  • linguistic landscape and policy;
  • multilingualism at home and at work;
  • multilingualism at school from a cognitive perspective;
  • the position of minority languages and dialects.

Learning objectives

After following this course you will be able to:

  • identify central aspects around societal and individual multilingualism;
  • evaluate the benefits of multilingualism of both minority and migrant speakers;
  • recognise issues that arise when people who do not share the same languages meet;
  • critically evaluate multilingual language policies for both migrant and minority languages;
  • analyse multilingual practices.

The course will be taught in English by lecturers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and leading experts in the field of Multilingualism will share their ideas with you! It includes quizzes, (research) activities, articles, discussions and videos. During the course we will hear different opinions and ideas about Multilingualism from experts in the field, but we want to hear yours too! What do you think of multilingual education? What is your position in the debate on the protection of minority languages?

So, if you would like to share your views on Multilingualism and explore Multilingual Practices, join the course now!

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsThousands 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.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

  • 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?

Nanna H Hilton

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.

Joana Duarte

Hi! My name is Joana and I am a researcher in the area of multilingualism, in particular regarding forms of multilingual education.

Who developed the course?

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

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For £59 you’ll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, starting from when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

A Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your Linkedin or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.