Introduction: The Multilingual Prism

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EunYoung Kang
Natalia Sáez


Each year the TESOL & Applied Linguistics programs invite internationally-renowned researchers to give lectures at Teachers College. This year, we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Jasone Cenoz and Dr. Durk Gorter, two prominent scholars in the field of multilingualism. In their talk, Cenoz and Gorter re-evaluated the previously dominant understanding of multilingualism and proposed a new approach to investigating multilingualism, which they termed Focus on Multilingualism (henceforth, FOM). While earlier treatments of multilingualism ignored dynamic interactions between the different linguistic systems that multilinguals know, this new perspective stresses the importance of a holistic approach to understanding multilingual speakers and their linguistic repertoires. Stemming from this new definition, multilingualism may be examined as a social and an individual phenomenon, keeping in mind, however, that “individual and societal multilingualism are not completely separated” (Cenoz, 2013, p. 5).

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