Beyond Being Multilingual:
Unlocking New Opportunities Through Developing Plurilingual Competence
In this modern world where societies are getting increasingly interconnected, the ability for global citizens to communicate effectively has become more crucial than ever. With English being the lingua franca of the world, there is less of a ‘barrier’ existing among people around the world to communicate. Yet, we still observe many situations where being able to ‘speak a common language’ at times, fail to truly help speakers connect with each other on a genuine level despite active listening. This is where developing plurilingual competence truly matters: training our future generations to be able to navigate diverse cultural contexts with ease and confidence.
What exactly is plurilingual competence?
Plurilingualism distinguishes itself from simply having the ability to converse in multiple languages, in other words, one’s linguistic proficiency does not make them plurilingual by definition. Being plurilingual is closely intertwined with one’s ability to understand and draw on their cultural knowledge while communicating with other speakers. By developing plurilingual language competence, individuals open doors to unparalleled personal, professional, and cognitive growth.
Moving from Multilingual to Plurilingual
According to the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR), languages and cultures as somewhat two separate entities, and that cultures and languages co-exist among societies and individuals under the meanings entailed by multilingualism. On the contrary, plurilingualism and pluriculturalism are seen as closely linked, with the idea of plurilingualism striving to capture the holistic nature of language users and the ability for them to also display the depth of their cultural knowledge.
So, why is it important for students in Hong Kong to develop plurilingual competence? Where do we start?
In traditional schools in Hong Kong, the emphasis has primarily been on the mastery of Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, and English, the three official languages of Hong Kong. Mastering these three languages are both commonplace and vital for effective communication and their learning journey. Yet, in the meantime, students might not be in the ideal environment where they can learn languages in an authentic context and be exposed to more diverse cultural learning.
Exposure to a more enriching language environment outside traditional schooling bring along myriad of benefits. Its benefits are more than just improved memory retention to heightened logical reasoning. Providing more varied language exposure and language options empower students to become more culturally sensitive and develop critical thinking skills while consuming different media.
One of the biggest obstacles for learners is to understanding different nuances of language in authentic contexts. Therefore, by providing students a stress-free and authentic environment to acquire a language through meaningful learning activities, students will ultimately develop better communication skills, with greater creativity and flexibility while communicating with others drawing on their linguistic and cultural competence.
The benefits of developing plurilingual language competence are far-reaching and profound. Beyond the immediate advantages of effective communication across borders, plurilingualism fosters pluriculturalism, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation among diverse groups. Whether it’s learning two languages from the same language family or exploring completely different languages with different language structures and vocabulary, the journey towards plurilingualism equips individuals with cognitive flexibility, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and an astute appreciation for cultural nuances.
Learn with us!
At Immerse Languages, we offer students the opportunities to explore and be exposed to more than one language. We value diversity of languages and cultures in a given context and promotes intercultural dialogue and understanding. Find out more about our language options and programs. Contact us today to get started on your path to pluirlingual!