Focus on Multilingualism: More Dots to Connect

Timothy Hall


Across the four selected papers, Cenoz and Gorter present a research program entitled Focus on Multilingualism (FOM), which is underpinned by two questions: (1) how to understand multilingualism, perhaps from a humanistic perspective, and (2) how to implement it in education. In exploring these questions, the authors cite an intellectual and methodological lineage drawn from the fields of bilingualism and second language acquisition (SLA). I do not see inherent contradictions in invoking both bilingualism and SLA for the purpose. However, the thesis of this commentary is that the argumentation for these goals might benefit from a more explicit reflection of current understandings of SLA, from a macro view to a micro view, such that its own descriptive adequacy can be bolstered. Furthermore, I have concerns about how the implementation of such understanding will follow in education. First, I describe the scope and motivation of the FOM framework. Then, I suggest that more constructs from the field of SLA be invoked in FOM, namely from a Usage-based framework. I also suggest borrowing some of SLA’s methodological rigor. Last, I express broad concerns about the implementation of FOM for the purposes of education.

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