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Speakers: Dagmar Abendroth-Timmer and Christian Koch (University of Siegen)

In empirical research on the topic of plurilingualism, it is often important to obtain background information on the language repertoire of the test persons in order to link the observations of the study itself with language biographical features. First of all, heritage-related plurilingualism has to be considered, but also further language contact and language learning experiences and attitudes towards language use that go beyond the curriculum of the school languages. When assessing the language repertoires of advanced learners, one can assume an increasing awareness of their own language competencies and the development of self-concepts, according to which less visible languages remain unmentioned. This can concern fossilized family languages or even foreign languages that have been deselected and are omitted as failures. Sometimes plurilingualism remains unmentioned due to fear of stigmatization.

Our paper focuses on the ViMuLEnc project (Virtual Multilingual Learning Encounters in the Language Classroom). During this project, students at a German upper secondary school (n=29) were brought together with 14 international experts on multilingualism, digitalization, and sustainability via video conferencing. A community of discourse at eye level emerged through multilingual and gamifying tasks. English was predominantly the lingua franca, but at the same time nobody’s L1. This led – unlike in regular school lessons – to an authentic use of language with the primary aim of constructing meaning together.

As part of the project the students were initially interrogated in writing about their languages, and it has been shown that the type of questioning leads to different information. Thus, methods of asking specifically about domains of use prove to be a useful strategy for capturing more diverse presence of languages. With the help of interviews, the discrepancies in the different types of survey could be explored more precisely in oral form. The paper shows procedures for detecting plurilingual repertoires and identifies conspicuous features in the statements, which will be examined in more detail and put up for discussion on the basis of individual cases.


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Date and time
Jan 20, 2023
All day
Format and location
English and French
General public, Alumni
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