About half the world’s population are bilingual, but what does this actually mean? This module provides an introduction to the subject of bilingualism and multilingualism, viewed from the perspectives of the individual (for example, how bilinguals code-switch or mix their languages in conversation), the community (what causes a group to give up their ancestral language and change to a new one, and what is the process for this) and the state (issues of language planning, policies and education). This module is designed to provide an introduction to the most important issues, methods and theoretical developments in the study of bilingual/multilingual societies. It aims to introduce different research approaches and to enable you to take a critical view of research in this field, drawing on examples from around the world.

In teaching we will draw on students’ own experiences of bilingualism and multilingual societies (even ‘monolingual’ societies are very often multilingual in reality) as well as looking at multilingual urban landscapes and multilingualism on the internet.