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Multilingual competence

What does it mean to possess multilingual competence? How do children, adolescents and adults acquire multiple languages? How does multilingualism develop throughout life?

Baby and an older woman.
Photo: Nadia Frantsen/UiO

To possess multilingual competence means to be familiar with two or more languages on the basis of how these languages are used in different contexts. MultiLing explores this competence, with a particular focus on how it is acquired and how it changes throughout the lifespan.

Key questions include:

  • How children, adolescents and adults acquire multiple languages.
  • How the use of multiple languages affects a person’s linguistic skills and awareness.
  • How the familiarity with different languages cause these to influence each other.
  • What characterizes language development in multilingual children.
  • How any language problems in multilingual children can be detected.
  • Reading comprehension and writing skills in multilingual children at school and in society.
  • How multilingual competence changes through the lifespan.


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