Multilingualism and the Holistic Approach to Multilingual Education

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Cheng Ling Alice Chen


The number of multilingual speakers now outnumbers that of monolinguals (Tucker, 1998). In a figure provided by the Linguistic Society of America, nations that are monolingual or mono-ethnic are the minority; on the contrary, scholars estimate over five-thousand languages are spoken in 160 nations around the world (Valdés, 2012). For those people, the usage of multiple languages occurs on a daily basis, possibly due to the emergence of global markets or the development of the Internet. The present commentary discusses multilingualism in relation to a newer perspective to multilingual education. First, the scope of multilingualism will be provided, followed by a discussion on a newer trend –a holistic approach –to multilingual education. A particular focus will be placed on monolingual bias and insights for research on multilingualism will be proposed.

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