Linguistic Risk-Taking is an initiative in development for close to a decade and a research area in the CCERBAL portfolio.

Linguistic risk-taking

Nikolay Slavkov


Welcome to the Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative launched by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI). This initiative will help you discover new and creative ways of using the University of Ottawa’s unique bilingual campus as a resource in your language-learning journey. On behalf of our team of professors, staff members and students, I wish you happy linguistic risk-taking!

Nikolay Slavkov, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI)

Director, Canadian Centre for Studies and Research in Bilingualism and Language Planning (CCERBAL)


A linguistic risk is an authentic, every-day communication task that some language learners may shy away from and may need special encouragement to engage in. Research has shown that some learners hesitate to take risks and do not always benefit from the extra opportunities to practice a second or additional language outside of the language classroom. Real-life communication is not stress-free. It may involve “risk factors” such as making mistakes, being misunderstood, misunderstanding others, taking on a different identity, changing language use habits, and so on. That is why some learners tend to stay within the comfort zone of their preferred language when going about their daily business on campus and thus miss out on opportunities to “live” bilingually or multilingually. The Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative intends to encourage you to take various risks that will boost your confidence in your second or additional language. It will guide you in using our bilingual campus as a real-life language-learning resource. The Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative is designed for French or English as target languages. However, in many cases you can extend its use to other languages that you may be learning.

Research and publications

Slavkov, N., & Séror, J. (2019). The Development of the Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative at a Bilingual Post-Secondary Institution in CanadaCanadian Modern Language Review, 75(3), pp. 254-272, doi:

Séror, J., & Slavkov, N. (2019). Soutenir la prise de risques linguistiques chez l’apprenant langagier. Journal de l’immersion, 41(1), pp.9-13.


In 2019, the Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative established a collaboration with uOGlobal. Within the framework of uOGlobal, the objective of the Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative is to promote multilingualism and internationalisation. The linguistic passport supports intercultural and international learning in the uOGlobal community.

Learn more here.

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