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The present study investigates the link between multilingualism and the personality trait of cognitive empathy among 2158 mono- and multilinguals. Data were collected through an online questionnaire. Statistical analyses revealed that the knowledge of more languages was not linked to cognitive empathy. Bilingual upbringing and the experience of having lived abroad were equally unrelated to cognitive empathy. Gender and education level were linked to cognitive empathy. Most interestingly, a small but significant positive correlation emerged between multilingualism (operationalised as advanced levels of proficiency in several foreign languages and frequent use of these languages) and cognitive empathy. Further analysis revealed that frequent use of multiple languages was linked to higher levels of cognitive empathy, which could be interpreted as an indication of multicompetence.
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International Journal of Multilingualism
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Multilingualism, empathy and
Jean-Marc Dewaele
& Li Wei
Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication,
Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H
Version of record first published: 10 Sep 2012.
To cite this article: Jean-Marc Dewaele & Li Wei (): Multilingualism, empathy and
multicompetence, International Journal of Multilingualism, DOI:10.1080/14790718.2012.714380
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Multilingualism, empathy and multicompetence
Jean-Marc Dewaele* and Li Wei
Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Birkbeck, University of London,
43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD, UK
(Received 30 October 2011; final version received 21 May 2012)
The present study investigates the link between multilingualism and the perso-
nality trait of cognitive empathy among 2158 mono- and multilinguals. Data were
collected through an online questionnaire. Statistical analyses revealed that the
knowledge of more languages was not linked to cognitive empathy. Bilingual
upbringing and the experience of having lived abroad were equally unrelated to
cognitive empathy. Gender and education level were linked to cognitive empathy.
Most interestingly, a small but significant positive correlation emerged between
multilingualism (operationalised as advanced levels of proficiency in several
foreign languages and frequent use of these languages) and cognitive empathy.
Further analysis revealed that frequent use of multiple languages was linked to
higher levels of cognitive empathy, which could be interpreted as an indication of
Keywords: multilingualism; personality; cognitive empathy; levels of proficiency
in several languages
The dominant view among personality psychologists is that personality is more
a matter of nature rather than nurture (McCrae et al., 2000; Pervin & Cervone,
2010). Relatively little research has been carried out on the effect of social and
environmental factors on personality traits at an individual level. The default
position of personality psychologists is that participants are largely monolingual
and monocultural, and that the presence of other languages is irrelevant. Pavlenko
(2005, p. 3) notes that this ‘monolingual’ view of language exists in linguistics,
psychology and anthropology.
As researchers of multilingualism, we are keen to find out whether individuals
who are immersed in more than one language and culture would score differently
on certain personality dimensions. The trait we will investigate in the present study
is empathy.
In the following section we will look at the research which considered cross-
cultural and psychological aspects of multilingualism and foreign language acquisi-
tion. We will also focus on some key studies on empathy. We will then present
our research instruments, including the sociobiographical questionnaire and our
adaptation of the Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright (2004) questionnaire to measure
*Corresponding author. Email:
International Journal of Multilingualism
2012, 115, iFirst article
ISSN 1479-0718 print/ISSN 1747-7530 online
# 2012 Taylor & Francis
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empathy. We will explain how we adapted the multilingualism measure first
presented in Dewaele and Stavans (2012).
Subsequently, we will test five hypotheses using the data collected from 2158
participants worldwide. The findings will be discussed in the subsequent section.
Finally, we will present some tentative conclusions.
Research on cross-cultural and psychological aspects of multilingualism
Multilingualism research has focused much more on the cognitive consequences
of bi- and multilingualism than on its psychological effects. Bialystok (2010) reported
some delays in bilinguals vocabulary acquisition. An overview of the research in
the field, the last 90 years, suggests that bilingualism has no effect on intelligence
but has positive effects on metalinguistic awareness and cognitive development
(Barac & Bialystok, 2011). Research in the last decennium has focused on the effect
of early bilingualism on cognitive abilities known as the executive function. These
are the processes responsible for attention, selection, inhibition, shifting and flexi-
bility that are at the centre of all higher thought(p. 37). Adesope, Lavin, Thompson,
and Ungerleider (2010) conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of the literature
on the cognitive effect of bilingualism on children. The results suggest that bilinguals
perform significantly better in abstract and symbolic representation skills, in meta-
linguistic awareness, in attentional control and in working memory. In a recent study,
Bialystok (2010) found that bilingual children outperformed monolinguals on
cognitively demanding tasks but also in less effortful tasks where perceptual
information from complex stimuli had to be processed, but where inhibition was
not needed. Barac and Bialystok (2011) conclude that bilingual advantage is not
limited to inhibitory control but extends to other aspects of executive function such
as monitoring, switching and updating (p. 54). Poarch and van Hell (2011) have
pushed this line of investigation further by comparing not just monolingual and
bilingual children but also a group of trilingual children. The authors found that the
trilingual children outperformed the two other groups.
Extensive bilingual experience has positive effects through the lifespan, attenuat-
ing age-related decline in episodic memory (Schroeder & Marian, 2011).
Bilingual cognitive advantages have traditionally been attributed to an indivi-
duals knowledge of two linguistic systems. Some researchers have argued that it
is not the bilingualism but rather the biculturalism which gives the cognitive
advantage (Leung, Maddux, Galinsky, & Chiu, 2008).
Bilingualism has also been linked to an advantage in divergent thinking, which
is one of the major components of creativity (Kharkhurin, 2008). The author
attributes this finding to the fact that multilingual/multicultural experience allows
individuals to perceive the world through the amalgam of two different conceptual
prisms and view events with a wider range of enriched experiences. Kharkhurin
(2010) investigated the effect of bilingualism on verbal and nonverbal criterion-
referenced creativity indicators of the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults among
college students, controlling linguistic proficiency and language dominance. Bilin-
guals were found to perform better on nonverbal creativity, whereas monolinguals
scored higher on verbal creativity. The bilinguals outperformed their monolingual
peers on an important indicator of creativity namely resistance to premature closure.
In other words, they did not jump to conclusions prematurely.
2 J.M. Dewaele and L. Wei
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One consistent pattern that emerges from research on foreign language anxiety
(FLA), both in classroom situations and in multilingual interactions in daily life,
is that participants knowing more languages suffer less from FLA in their vari-
ous languages (Dewaele, 2007, 2010a; Dewaele, Petrides, & Furnham, 2008). FLA
has also been found to be lower in the target language if the learner already masters
a language belonging to the same family (for example, the knowledge of other
Romance languages was linked to lower FLA in French; Dewaele, 2010b). It
was suggested that multilinguals are more experienced communicators, able to over-
come communicative difficulties, and that their increased communicative confidence
translates in lower levels of FLA (Dewaele et al., 2008).
A considerable body of research exists in cross-cultural psychology on the
personality traits associated with positive outcomes of immigration (Kim, 2001).
Immigrants who are prepared for change and have an adaptive personality,
characterised by Openness, strength and positivity, are more likely to be successful
in cross-cultural adaptation (p. 85).
The study by Chen, Benet-Martı´nez, and Harris Bond (2008) found that
Neuroticism was the strongest predictor of psychological adjustment of three groups
of immigrants in Hong Kong. Balanced bicultural individuals (measured with the
Bicultural Identity Integration scale) have been found to score higher on Openness
to experience and lower on Neuroticism (Benet-Martı´nez & Haritatos, 2005).
Leong (2007) found that Singaporean students who had opted for an international
exchange programme scored higher on Openmindedness, Social Initiative, Flexibility
and Emotional Stability compared to a control group who had chosen to remain in
Singapore (p. 553). The exchange students who scored higher on Social Initiative
experienced fewer cultural and psychological difficulties during their stay abroad,
while those who scored high on Flexibility suffered more from depression. Peltokorpi
and Froese (2011) also found that western expatriates working in the greater Tokyo
who scored higher on Openmindedness, Emotional Stability, Cultural Empathy and
Social Initiative were more likely to have psychologically adjusted in Japan.
Dewaele and Van Oudenhoven (2009) reported that young London teenagers
who had been born abroad scored significantly higher than locally-born teenagers
on the dimensions of Openmindedness and marginally on Cultural Empathy,
and they scored significantly lower on Emotional Stability. Participants knowing
and using at least two languages scored significantly higher on the dimensions
of Cultural Empathy and Openmindedness, and scored significantly lower on the
dimension of Emotional Stability compared to mere incipient bilinguals, that is,
classroom learners of a second language.
Dewaele and Stavans (2012) partially replicated the Dewaele and Van Oudenhoven
study with participants residing in Israel. One crucial difference was that the
participants were all proficient in at least two languages. It turned out that
those knowing more languages (three to six) did not obtain different scores on the
personality dimensions. Participants born in Israel scored marginally higher on
Emotional Stability compared to those born abroad, and participants with one
immigrant parent (but not two) scored higher on Cultural Empathy, Openmindedness
and Social Initiative. Participants who had become dominant in Hebrew (either L2,
L3 or L4) scored lower than L1-dominant participants on Emotional Stability.
High levels of multilingualism (i.e. advanced knowledge and frequent use of
various languages) were linked to significantly higher scores on Cultural Empathy,
International Journal of Multilingualism 3
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Openmindedness and Social Initiative. Korzilius, Van Hooft, Planken, and Hendrix
(2011) study on the adjustment of international employees of a Dutch multinational
company found that foreign language knowledge was linked to significantly higher
scores on Openmindedness and Emotional Stability. A positive relationship was
also found between self-assessed knowledge of foreign languages and Cultural
Empathy (p. 546). The international employees (who were more multilingual) scored
higher on Openmindedness and Flexibility than the Dutch employees working in
The Netherlands. Non-international employees scored highest on Emotional stability
(p. 549).
an´ska-Ponikwia and Dewaele (2012) looked at the link between
personality traits and frequency of use of English L2 as well as self-perceived
proficiency in English L2 by adult Polish immigrants living in Ireland and the
UK. Statistical analyses revealed that Openness and Self-esteem were significant
predictors of frequency of use of English L2, while Openness was the best predictor
of self-perceived English L2 proficiency. It thus seems that progress in the L2
depends not just on the immersion in the L2 but also on the L2 users personality
profile resulting in fewer or more social interactions in the L2.
Finally, in a mirror study to the present one (Dewaele & Wei, in press), we used
the feedback, obtained through an online questionnaire in English, from 2158
multilinguals from around the world to investigate the link between multilingualism
and the measure of Tolerance of Ambiguity (TA), a lower-order personality trait
(Herman, Stevens, Bird, Mendenhall, & Oddou, 2010). A significant positive link
emerged between the number of languages known to participants and their TA
scores. A high level of global proficiency in various languages was linked also to
higher TA scores. While growing up bi- or trilingually from birth had no effect on
TA, the experience of having lived abroad had a strong positive impact although the
effect levelled off after more than one year abroad. TA thus appears to be influenced
by an individuals social-linguistic-cultural environment and by that individuals
conscious effort to learn new languages and having to fit in a new linguistic and
cultural environment. The same study showed no relationship between the number of
languages known by participants and their scores on Neuroticism (Dewaele & Wei,
in press).
Research on empathy
Empathy refers to the ability to tune into how someone else is feeling, or what
they might be thinking (Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004, p. 193). Empathy
plays a crucial role in social interactions as it allows us to understand the intentions
of others, predict their behaviour, and experience an emotion triggered by their
emotion (p. 193). The authors refer to empathy as the ‘‘glue’’ of the social world,
drawing us to help others and stopping us from hurting others (p. 193). Empathy
is difficult to define because of its multidimensional nature. It has been conceptua-
lised by social psychologists as having two main strands: (1) cognitive empathy
‘‘the intellectual/imaginative apprehension of anothers mental state’’ and (2)
emotional empathy ‘‘an emotional response to ... emotional responses of
others’’’ (Lawrence, Shaw, Baker, Baron-Cohen, & David, 2004, p. 911). Multiple
questionnaires have been developed to measure empathy but Baron-Cohen and
Wheelwright (2004, pp. 165, 166) claim that many instruments measured various
4 J.M. Dewaele and L. Wei
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aspects, such as social skills, social self-confidence, even-temperedness, sensitivity,
nonconformity, fantasy and so on.
Empathy has also been mentioned as a psychological variable that might be
relevant in second or foreign language acquisition. Guiora et al. (1975, p. 48) suggest
that empathy is essential to success in the second language learning: To speak a
second language authentically is to take on a new identity. As with empathy, it is to
step into a new and perhaps unfamiliar pair of shoes.
Second language learners with high levels of empathy have been found to be
better at imitating a native speakers pronunciation (Guiora, Beit-Hallahmi,
Brannon, Dull, & Scovel, 1972; Guiora, Brannon, & Dull, 1972). Guiora (1990)
claims that pronunciation ability and empathy are influenced by the permeability of
ego boundaries, constituting the so-called language ego. Permeability (or mental
flexibility) refers to the ease with which new experiences, cultural features or
perceptions of other people may pass the defences of ones personality. People with
low levels of ego permeability are more defensive and less receptive to outside
influences. Higher levels of ego permeability imply lower defensiveness and higher
receptivity. Guiora claimed that children learn their L1 in a state of ego permeability,
but that this permeability decreases progressively with age. According to Guiora and
coworkers (1972) ego permeability strengthens individuals sensitivity to social
interaction and allows individuals to pick up subtle speech nuances and to learn
to reproduce them. Some research has been carried out to see whether ego
boundaries, that is, subjective inhibitions, can be weakened through consumption
of alcohol or Valium (Guiora, Acton, Erard, & Strickland, 1980; Guiora, Beit-
Hallahmi, et al., 1972). Baran-Lucarz (2012) investigated the link between types of
ego boundaries and accuracy in L2 pronunciation. She found few relationships but a
weak positive correlation ermerged between pronunciation scores and a boundary
representing ‘‘the subjects attitudes towards accepting objects, concepts and
situations that lack clear borders’’ (p. 60).
Rota and Reiterer (2009) have investigated the link between empathy and
pronunciation (using the Modern Language Aptitude Test [MLAT]). The authors
used a scale developed by Leibetseder, Laireiter, Riepler, and Ko
ller (2001). Empathy
was defined as the effort to identify with persons in fictitious or real-life situations
(Rota & Reiterer, 2009, p. 71). The questionnaire consists of 26 items grouped into
four factors: cognitive-sensitivity, emotional sensitivity, emotional and cognitive
concern (p. 71). Empathic readiness scores were found to correlate positively and
significantly with talent of pronunciation, phonetic coding ability, grammatical
sensitivity and vocabulary learning (p. 72). Further research by these researchers,
using fMRI imaging, has shown that imitation aptitude for an unknown language
(Hindi) is mostly predicted by working memory, whereas imitation aptitude in
advanced L2 is best predicted by empathy and phonetic coding ability (Reiterer,
2011). Empathy was also found to predict L2 pronunciation aptitude among
advanced learners of English L2 (Hu et al., 2012).
an´ska-Ponikwia and Dewaele (2012) found that self-perceived English
L2 proficiency scores of Polish immigrants in Ireland and the UK correlated
positively, and significantly, with three personality traits: Agreeableness, Openness
and Empathy (but not Extraversion). The authors speculate that curiosity in the
L2 and an ability to perceive an interlocutors point of view have a stronger
effect on self-perceived proficiency than gregariousness and talkativeness facets of
International Journal of Multilingualism 5
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Research questions and hypotheses
The present study will address the following questions:
(1) Is the knowledge of more languages linked to higher levels of empathy?
We expect participants knowing more languages to score higher on empathy.
(2) Is the degree of multilingualism linked to higher levels of empathy? We
expect participants having advanced knowledge of languages and using them
frequently to score higher on empathy.
(3) Does growing up bilingually affect empathy? We hypothesise that partici-
pants who grew up bi- or trilingually will score higher on empathy.
(4) Does living abroad affect empathy? If that is the case, do those who have
stayed abroad longer score higher on empathy? Our expectation is that
participants who have lived outside their homeland for some time will score
higher on empathy.
(5) Is there an effect of age, gender and education level on empathy? We expect
that older, female and more highly educated participants will score higher
on empathy.
A total of 2158 multilinguals (1589 females, 457 males) filled out the questionnaire.
The participants reported 204 different nationalities, including many participants
with double nationalities. The largest group came from the USA (n 478), followed
by British (n299), Dutch (n145), Belgian (n81), German (n 81), Canadian
(n76), Polish (n65), French (n58), Spanish (n42), Chinese (n41), Croatian
(n41), Turkish (n35), Swiss (n34), Portuguese (n33), Swedish (n28),
Italian (n28), Japanese (n27) and so on.
English was the most frequent L1
(n866), followed by Dutch (n195), French (n155), Spanish (n138), German
(n124), Polish (n 71), Chinese (n63), Portuguese (n52), Arabic (n41),
Croatian (n 40), Russian (n 40), Turkish (n36), Italian (n32), Japanese
(n27), Swedish (n26), Greek (n23), Farsi (n 22), Hebrew (n21), Korean
(n21), Romanian (n 16), Hungarian (n14), Norwegian (n14), etc. The most
frequent L2 was English (n924) followed by French (n 455), Spanish (n248),
German (n143), etc. The pattern was different for the L3 with French coming first
(n424), followed by German (n330), English (n248) and Spanish (n 222).
The most frequent L4s were German (n205), Spanish (n196), French (n174)
and English (n 44). The most frequent L5 was Spanish (n101), Italian (n69),
French (n50), and German (n49). Mean age of acquisition of the L2 was
10.1 years (SD5.4), this increased to 15 years for the L3 (SD 6.4), 18.3 years for
the L4 (SD 7.8) and 21.7 for the L5 (SD8.6).
The sample consists of 41 monolinguals, 399 bilinguals, 566 trilinguals, 557
quadrilinguals, 359 pentalinguals, 143 sextalinguals, 54 septalinguals, 21 octalinguals,
9 participants reported knowing 9 languages, 5 participants knew 10 languages,
and 1 participant knew 12 languages. A single category was created including all
participants with six or more languages. A majority (n 1866) reported having
one single L1, a small proportion reported growing up with two L1s (n274) and
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18 participants grew up with three languages from birth (the latter two groups
were aggregated).
The mean age was 34.5 years (SD12.1). Participants are generally highly
educated with 31 having a high school diploma, 606 a Bachelors degree, 712
a Masters degree and 613 a Doctoral degree.
This sample of highly educated, mostly female polyglots, is quite typical for
online questionnaires dealing with language issues (Wilson & Dewaele, 2010). The
main advantage of online questionnaires is the ability to collect data from all around
the world, eliminating local effects such as a dislike for a particular language and
its speakers, and it allows the recruitment of participants from a wide age range
(Wilson & Dewaele, 2010).
We used an adapted version of Baron-Cohen and Wheelwrights (2004) questionnaire
to measure the Empathy Quotient. The authors describe their instrument as being
short, easy to use, and easy to score (p. 166).
Lawrence et al. (2004, p. 912) explain that the EQ was explicitly designed
to have a clinical application and be sensitive to a lack of empathy as a feature
of psychopathology. It was validated on healthy control volunteers and a smaller
number of people with Aspergers Syndrome and High-functioning Autism (p. 912).
The questionnaire has 60 items (20 of which were filler items) with Likert scale
responses (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004, p. 166). The authors performed
exploratory factor analysis in order to explore the various components of empathy.
Three factors emerged from the analysis, explaining 41% of the variance:
(1) Cognitive Empathy: measures the appreciation of affective states(Lawrence
et al., 2004, p. 918);
(2) Emotional Reactivity: reflects the tendency to have an emotional reaction
in response to others mental states (p. 918);
(3) Social Skills: the spontaneous use of such skills and/or a lack of intuitive
social understanding (p. 918).
Women scored slightly but significantly higher on EQ than men in the normal
control group (Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004, p. 170).
Because of length restrictions in our online questionnaire, we selected five items
per dimension and ignored the filler items. We choose the items with the highest
factor loadings in Lawrence et al. (2004, p. 915) (see Appendix).
Our open-access questionnaire remained online on SurveyMonkey between
December 2010 and March 2011, and attracted 2158 valid responses from multi-
linguals across the world. It was advertised through several LISTSERVs, targeted
emails to multilingual colleagues and their students in academic institutions, and
informal contacts around the world. Participants started by filling out a short
sociobiographical questionnaire. It contained questions about sex, age, nationality,
language history and present language use.
We used participants information on frequency of use of their various languages
and self-perceived competence in speaking and writing these languages to develop
two measures of multilingualism, first presented in Dewaele and Stavans (2012).
Cook (2002, p. 7) argues that Acquiring another language alters the L2 users mind
International Journal of Multilingualism 7
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in ways that go beyond the actual knowledge of language itself, we wonder
whether a high level of proficiency or a high frequency of use of foreign languages, or
both, lead to multicompetence.
We thus developed a first multilingualism index based on language knowledge,
or a total proficiency score, which is the sum of self-perceived competence
scores collected on 5-point Likert scales in up to six languages. Such a measure is
potentially useful to distinguish self-professed pentalinguals with minimal compe-
tence in three languages from trilinguals with maximal proficiency in three languages.
The latter might know fewer languages, but knowing them to higher level
undoubtedly makes the individual more strongly multilingual. In other words,
rather than sticking to the imprecise labels bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual, etc,
considering every language as a discrete entity, despite the fact that competence can
be near zero, we consider the multilingual users accumulated language knowledge
across languages. The total proficiency score is the sum of the proficiency scores on
5-point Likert scales for oral proficiency (maximum score 5) and written proficiency
(maximum score 5) for up to six languages (including two L1s) (maximal possible
score 10660). In the present sample, total proficiency scores varied between
5 and 55 with a mean of 25.5 (SD8.0).
The same principle was applied for language use. Multilinguals who rarely use
their foreign languages can be distinguished from those who use them more
frequently. This is a measure of intercultural communicative activity. The total
language use score is the sum of frequency of use scores on 5-point Likert scales for
up to six languages (maximal possible score 5630). In the present study, total
frequency of language use scores varied between 3 and 30 with a mean of 11.2
A scale analysis revealed that our 15-item Empathy Quotient had insufficient
internal consistency (Cronbachs a 0.38). Separate analyses of the three subscales
showed that cognitive empathy was internally consistent (Cronbachs a 0.84), but
that Emotional Reactivity and Social skills were unacceptably low, with Cronbachs
alpha of 0.16 and 0.22, respectively. We therefore decided to limit our analysis to
cognitive empathy. Scores of the 1936 participants who filled out all five items of this
subscale varied between 5 and 25, with a mean of 18.5 (SD 3.5). A one-sample
Kolmogorov Smirnov test showed that the values for cognitive empathy are normally
distributed, allowing the use of parametric statistics.
Knowledge of multiple languages
An ANOVA showed no significant effect of knowledge of multiple languages on
cognitive empathy (F0.9, pns). The expected trend was present, with mono-
linguals having the lowest mean score (mean18.0, SD 4.0) and sextalinguals
having the highest score (mean 18.9, SD3.7), but a Tukey HSD post-hoc test
showed that the difference between both groups was not significant.
Level of multilingualism
The two independent variables, total frequency scores and total proficiency use,
are highly correlated with each other (r(2136) 0.762, pB0.0001). In other words,
highly proficient language users are also frequent language users.
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A Pearson correlation analysis revealed a small but significant positive correlation
between total proficiency scores and cognitive empathy scores (r(1934)0.068,
pB0.003). A comparable relationship emerged between total frequency scores and
cognitive empathy scores (r(1922)0.072, p B 0.001). These results suggest that
higher levels of multilingualism, as measured through individuals total proficiency
and total frequency of language use, are linked with significantly higher levels of
cognitive empathy. In order to visualise the findings, we assigned our participants to
three groups (Low, Medium and High) for total proficiency and total frequency.
Participants whose scores for total proficiency and total frequency fell within 1 SD
above or below the mean were placed in the Medium group, those with scores
that were 1 SD above the mean were placed in the High group, those with scores that
were 1 SD below the mean were placed in the Low group (see Table 1).
An ANOVA revealed a significant effect of total frequency on cognitive empathy
(F (2, 1922) 3.78, p B0.023). A Tukey HSD post-hoc test showed that the
High group scored significantly higher on Cognitive Empathy than the Low group
(pB0.019). Although a roughly similar picture emerged for total proficiency, it
failed to reach statistical significance (F (2, 1934) 1.58, p0.15) (see Figure 1). A
look at the patterns in Figure 1 shows a linear increase on cognitive empathy along
the three groups of total frequency. In other words, the more frequently participants
used their various languages, the higher their scores on cognitive empathy. The
pattern differs for total proficiency where the scores on cognitive empathy are similar
for the Low and the Medium group, and only increase for the High group.
Bi- or trilingual upbringing
An independent samples t-test revealed that the 263 participants who had been
exposed to two or three languages simultaneously since birth did not score
significantly higher on cognitive empathy (mean18.7, SD3.6) compared to the
1673 participants who had been brought up monolingually (mean18.5, SD3.7)
(t (1934)0.56, pns).
Stay abroad
An independent samples t-test revealed that the 1378 participants who had lived
abroad did not score significantly higher on cognitive empathy (mean18.6,
SD3.7) than the 557 participants who had never lived abroad (mean18.3,
SD3.5) (t (1933)1.32, pns).
Table 1. Distribution of participants according to scores on total
frequency and total prociency.
Total frequency Total proficiency
Low 168 251
Medium 1495 1424
High 259 259
Total 1922 1934
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Age, gender and education level
A Pearson correlation analysis showed no relationship between participants age
and their cognitive empathy scores (r (2147)0.009, pns).
An independent samples t-test showed that the 1448 female participants scored
significantly higher on cognitive empathy (mean18.7, SD3.6) compared to the
388 male participants (mean 18.0, SD3.6) (t (1835) 3.26, p B 0.001).
An ANOVA showed that level of education was marginally linked to cognitive
empathy scores (F (3, 1929) 2.31, p 0.074). Participants with university education
tended to score higher on cognitive empathy (see Table 2).
The results show that the number of languages known by participants and their
linguistic histories are not related to levels of cognitive empathy. However, a posi-
tive relationship emerged between levels of multilingualism and cognitive empathy.
This confirms earlier studies showing small but significant relationships between
indices of multilingualism on the one hand, and personality traits on the other hand
(Dewaele & Stavans, 2012; Dewaele & Wei, in press).
To sum up, our first hypothesis was rejected as participants knowing more
languages did not score higher on cognitive empathy than those knowing fewer
Low Medium High
Total frequency and total proficiency
Figure 1. The relationship between total prociency, total frequency and cognitive empathy.
Table 2. The effect of education level on cognitive empathy (ANOVA).
Education level Cognitive empathy
High school 17.47
BA 18.41
MA 18.78
Ph.D. 18.44
10 J.M. Dewaele and L. Wei
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languages. We did have enough evidence to confirm our more fine-grained second
hypothesis: participants with higher levels of multilingualism scored significantly
higher on cognitive empathy. A follow-up analysis showed that frequent use of
multiple languages had a stronger effect on cognitive empathy than mere proficiency
in multiple languages.
Our third and fourth hypotheses were rejected: participants who had been
brought up bi- or trilingually did not score higher on cognitive empathy compared
to those who grew up monolingually and a stay abroad was not linked to superior
levels of cognitive empathy.
Our final hypothesis was partly confirmed as participants gender was linked
to cognitive empathy scores, with female participants scoring higher than male
participants. Participants with higher levels of education also tended to score higher
on cognitive empathy. Age was unrelated with scores on cognitive empathy.
These findings show that cognitive empathy is significantly linked to some
aspects of individuals knowledge and frequency of use of various languages. The
fact that a bi-/trilingual upbringing was not linked to higher levels of cognitive
empathy suggests that the presence of two (or three) languages/cultures in the
home environment is insufficient in itself to make somebody more cognitively
empathic. Contrary to our findings for TA (Dewaele & Wei, in press), which was
boosted by sudden massive exposure to unfamiliar languages and cultures, the stay
abroad did not seem linked to increased levels of cognitive empathy. The most
interesting finding is that higher levels of active multilingualism are linked with
higher scores on cognitive empathy. A similar pattern was found in Korzilius et al.
(2011) who reported a significant positive correlation between self-assessed knowl-
edge of foreign languages and Cultural Empathy (p. 546). It shows that average
proficiency in several languages is unlikely to change the mind (and the personality)
of the L2 learner/user much and while higher levels of proficiency seem to
correspond with higher levels of cognitive empathy, the effect is less progressive
than for total frequency of use of languages. Indeed, multilinguals who use all
their languages frequently score significantly higher on cognitive empathy. One could
argue that these multilinguals have become truly multicompetent (Cook, 1992). It
is tempting to see a causal relationship between multilingualism and increased
cognitive empathy. However, the reverse relationship is equally possible, namely that
individuals with higher levels of cognitive empathy develop a keener interest to
acquire and use foreign languages, and are therefore more likely to attain higher
levels of multilingualism. Such a relationship was reported in the literature, with
international exchange students scoring higher on Openmindedness, Social Initiative,
Flexibility and Emotional Stability compared to a control group in the home
institution, before departure (Leong, 2007).
Our study has a number of obvious limitations. The main issue is the difficulty
of measuring empathy. The instrument we developed based on the EQ (Baron-Cohen
& Wheelwright, 2004) was less reliable overall than we had expected. The low
levels of internal consistency of the whole Empathy scale, and two subscales,
Emotional Reactivity and Social Skills, meant that we could only use a single
subscale with a strong internal consistency, namely cognitive empathy. It is striking
that the five items in the latter scale were all positively worded (see Appendix),
while three out of five items in the Emotional Reactivity and four out of five items
in the Social Skills scales were negatively worded. Is it possible that too many of
our respondents suffered from fatigue in filling out a relatively long questionnaire
International Journal of Multilingualism 11
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(50 questions) and that too many struggled with the double negatives? This was
unfortunate as one might expect multilingual individuals to have developed stronger
intercultural social skills, and we expected them to score higher on this particular
scale. That said, we have pointed out in Wilson and Dewaele (2010) that online
instruments of this length (about 20 minutes to fill out) yield solid results.
Our operationalisation of multilingualism is a crude one. It is inevitably a rela-
tively simplistic way of measuring a multilayered and complex phenomenon. We
would argue however, that a crude measure is better than the mere sum of languages
(bilingual, trilingual and so on), and we hope this may be an impetus for the develop-
ment of more sophisticated measures.
We also aware that our self-selected sample does not necessarily reflect the
general population because of the high proportion of women, highly educated
participants and the obvious need to be connected to Internet. It has been argued
that this is not necessarily a weakness since filling out this type of questionnaire
requires a relatively high level of metalinguistic and metacognitive awareness (Wilson
& Dewaele, 2010). While this unbalance does not invalidate the findings, it needs to
be kept in mind when interpreting the results.
We feel that our study also had a number of strengths. The large sample from
monolinguals and multilinguals, including polyglots, from all over the world ensured
a good level of ecological validity (Wilson & Dewaele, 2010). The wide age range
also means that the sample included not just foreign language learners but also
experienced foreign language users.
A growing number of studies have shown that the effect multilingualism extends
beyond the cognitive level and affects more than just executive control (Barac &
Bialystok, 2011). Indeed, multilingualism has been linked to creative behaviour and
divergent thinking (Kharkhurin, 2008, 2010). Recent research also suggests that a
relationship exists between multilingualism and personality profiles, with frequent
and proficient users of several languages typically scoring higher on Openness/
Openmindedness (Dewaele & Stavans, 2012; Dewaele & Van Oudenhoven, 2009;
Korzilius et al., 2011), on TA (Dewaele & Wei, in press) and suffering less from
FLA (Dewaele, 2010a, 2010b).
Most research in the field of foreign language and multilingualism has used
empathy as a predictor variable (Guiora, Brannon, et al., 1972; Hu et al., 2012;
Ozanska-Ponikwia & Dewaele, 2012; Reiterer, 2011; Rota & Reiterer, 2009). One
previous study that looked at personality traits as dependent variables and included
multilingualism as an independent variable found that high levels of multilingualism
corresponded with higher levels of Cultural Empathy, Openmindedness and Social
Initiative (Dewaele & Stavans, 2012).
The findings of the present study are congruent: multilingual participants
(especially those using multiple languages frequently) score higher on cognitive
empathy, which means that they will tend to be more skilful in conversations
as they can see the world from their interlocutors point of view. One could
therefore conclude that these participants have indeed become multicompetent
(Cook, 2002).
12 J.M. Dewaele and L. Wei
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We would like to thank the reviewers and the guest editors for their useful comments and
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& Dewaele, 2011), but this lies outside the scope of the present paper.
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Cognitive Empathy
(1) I can tell if someone is masking their true emotion.
(2) I can tune into how someone else feels rapidly and intuitively.
(3) I am good at predicting how someone will feel.
(4) I can easily workout what another person might want to talk about.
(5) I can sense if I am intruding, even if the other person doesnt tell me.
Emotional Reactivity
(6) Seeing people cry doesnt really upset me reverse
(7) I tend to get emotionally involved with a friends problems.
(8) I get upset if I see people suffering on news programmes.
(9) It is hard for me to see why some things upset people so much reverse
(10) Other people often say that I am insensitive, though I dont always see why reverse
Social Skills
(11) I find it hard to know what to do in a social situation. reverse
(12) I dont tend to find social situations confusing.
(13) Friendships and relationships are just too difficult, so I tend not to bother with them
(14) I often find it difficult to judge if something is rude or polite reverse
(15) I find it difficult to explain to others things that I understand easily, when they dont
understand it first time reverse
Source: Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright (2004).
International Journal of Multilingualism 15
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... These in turn have been found to be related to such factors as teachers' knowledge of heritage language(s) of the learners or having a joint language (Haukås 2016), teachers' own plurilingual competence and plurilingual awareness (Gilham & Fürstenau 2020;Otwinowska 2017), experience in teaching migrants, a teaching area (subject), prior training in linguistically responsive teaching (Alisaari, Heikkola, Commins & Acquah 2019), prior training in multilingual pedagogy (Gorter & Arocena 2020). Apart from training and experience, certain personality characteristics seem also to play a role, such as empathising with the learner (Dewaele & Wei 2012) and being able to position oneself in the situation of the learner in order to understand his/her needs and difficulties (Calafato 2021). Furthermore, intercultural competence and intercultural sensitivity (Benett 1993) have been identified as competences that allow teachers to place themselves better in the position of the multilingual learner, and these have often been developed through living abroad (Wolff & Borzikowsky 2018). ...
... Contrary to predictions, time spent living abroad, even if it did contribute to the teacher's own intercultural competence, did not transfer to the ability to develop it in the learners. This finding is consistent with those of Dewaele and Li Wei (2012) who observed that time spent living abroad was not related to the development of cognitive empathy, but that advanced knowledge of a few languages was. One possible explanation for that fact may be that time spent abroad interrupted the teaching career. ...
... This means that empathy alone does not mean that the teacher will know how to work with multilingual learners. Similarly, Dewaele and Li Wei (2012) argue that what contributes to the growth of empathy is frequent use of multiple languages, i.e., multicompetence, which again points to the connection between plurilingualism and possible enactment of agency. ...
Full-text available
English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers are seemingly ideally placed to mediate the successful socialisation of multilingual learners into the new school environment for two major reasons. Firstly, as they have effective command of both L1 and L2 and often have experience of living abroad, they tend to exhibit higher levels of openness to new situations, empathy and understanding of the difficulties faced by multilingual learners. Secondly, the English class can itself be a platform for mutual understanding where learners are able to develop both English communication skills and intercultural competence (cf. Hopp, Jakisch, Sturm, Becker & Thoma 2020; Krulatz, Neokleous & Dahl 2022). As English is the language of instruction, it also has the potential to maintain levels of multilingual competence among those learners who already speak English as their heritage language (Banasiak & Olpińska-Szkiełko 2021), e.g. migrant children returning from the UK/Ireland. Drawing on data from a larger project (Rokita-Jaśkow, Wolanin, Król-Gierat & Nosidlak 2022), which consisted of interviewing 23 primary school EFL teachers in various contexts, this paper analyses the possible factors that impact teacher agency in the socialisation of multilinguals. It has been found that teacher agency in that respect appears to stem from teachers’ plurilingual competence and prior teaching experience. Surprisingly, personal experiences of intercultural encounters (e.g. time spent living abroad) or verbalised empathy, had little impact on teacher agency. This finding implies that even language teachers find it difficult to put themselves in the position of the multilingual learner and need specialist training in order to work with multilingual learners, which may convey an important message for educational decision-makers with reference to the formulation of future teacher education guidelines and curricula.
... This perception is constructed depending on the language ego permeability. The permeability of the language ego refers to the extent to which new experiences, cultural features, or perceptions of second language acquisition can pass the defense of one's language identity (Dewaele & Wei, 2012), so the language ego can be flexible and adapt (Celce-Murcia et al., 2010). ...
... There are some previous studies related to the language ego in second language acquisition that are collected on this paper. They are the research conducted by Keeley (2014), Zakarneh (2018), Ibrahim et al. (2008), Baran-Łucarz (2012), Alavinia & Salmasi (2012), Dewaele & Wei (2012), Schumann (1975), and Brown & Lee (2015). Keeley (2014) conducted research to find the role of self-identity and ego permeability in foreign culture adaptation and acquisition. ...
... The result of his study showed that there was no significant relationship between the language ego permeability and shyness level. Dewaele & Wei (2012) in their research investigated the correlation between multilingualism and the personality trait of cognitive empathy among 2158 monolinguals, bilinguals, trilingual, and multilinguals. The empathy they analyzed is closely related to the language ego since the permeability of the ego causes the empathy. ...
Full-text available
Real-life observation has shown that second language (L2) learners differ in their L2 learning process in which this individual difference is virtually related to the factors influencing second language acquisition. Many researchers have been interested in finding those factors, yet there is still a little study examining the impact of language ego as the affective factor. Thus, this paper aims to elaborate on how the language ego influences second language acquisition. By having a thorough understanding of language ego in L2 learning, it is expected that it can give some enlightenment to a better learning process for L2 learners.To provide an adequate explanation of language ego, this paper uses a literature review. This method is used to aggregate empirical findings related to a narrow research question which is the language ego as one of the affective factors influencing second language acquisition. Some previous studies that discuss a similar topic are collected, and the data is analyzed in accordance with the objective of this paper.As one of the affective factors, language ego is a psychological state of a learner in which it refers to the identity that a person develops in reference to the language. In this paper, it is hypothesized that the language ego influences second language acquisition in positive correlation when the focus is the permeability of the language ego. The permeability shows how the ego can be flexible and adaptable to the second language. The higher the learner’s language ego permeability is, the higher the learner’s chance of successful second language acquisition is.
... • Are often more creative and better at solving complex problems than monolinguals (Marian & Shook, 2012) • Often have positive attitudes about other language groups and more knowledge of and respect for other cultures (Dewaele, 2012) • Are able to learn additional languages better, because they have an understanding of how languages work (Barac & Bialystok, 2011Bialystok, 2017) • Children, despite having smaller vocabulary during the early stages of the language acquisition process, when vocabularies from both languages are combined, often have equal or similar competence in vocabulary compared to monolingual children (Genesee, Paradis, & Crago, 2004;Pearson, 1998). ...
Full-text available
There has been a shift in receiving countries and their education programs for adult immigrants around the world. A complete focus on immigrants' cultural integration and learning of the language of the country has shifted to an understanding that supporting heritage language maintenance benefits adults with little or no formal schooling in that language, including a more nuanced sense of identity, stronger second language (L2) and literacy learning, and confidence in supporting the schooling of the younger members of their communities. Teachers and tutors need, but lack, professional development focused on implementing instructional approaches that incorporate this new focus and on using reading materials in learners' languages. This chapter describes a new Online Heritage Language Resource Hub, which gives teachers, tutors, adult learners, and younger members of the community access to materials in hundreds of immigrants' languages. It also provides teachers ways to use the reading materials in the Hub in their classes with adult learners.
... Although previous studies have focused on language practice through translanguaging, it has been widely applied in content learning and in education in general (Fang, Jiang, and Yang, 2023;Fernández, 2019;Tai and Li, 2020). At the individual level, the ability to mix and switch between different linguistic resources has been associated with higher levels of cognitive empathy, which can be seen as a sign of multicompetence (Dewaele and Li, 2012). Furthermore, bilinguals' active engagement with both language systems by using their diverse knowledge base in both their native language and second language not only contributes to their identity construction (Creese and Blackledge, 2010;Creese et al., 2011) but also benefits their brain function, enabling them to perform intellectual activities quickly, flexibly, and effectively, which aids in the process of knowledge acquisition, comprehension, and absorption. ...
Full-text available
The study of translanguaging in education has drawn increasing attention from scholars, particularly in the past decade. The present research conducted a comprehensive scientometric analysis using the CiteSpace application to investigate the multifaceted phenomenon of translanguaging in the context of education. It addresses the pressing need for quantitative review efforts in the domain of translanguaging in education by employing visualization as an innovative means of presenting bibliometric data. This paper analyzes 680 relevant journal articles published between 2010 and 2022, identifies three phases in the development of translanguaging research, and highlights topics such as bilingual education, higher education, and language-in-education policy. The primary findings, presented through statistical analyses and succinct commentaries, are organized into four sections to address the research questions including 1) general situation, 2) leading geographical locations, 3) co-citation analysis, and 4) keywords co-occurrence analysis. The findings reveal the importance of exploiting students' linguistic repertoires and home languages in education to enhance learning and promote a sense of belonging. This review offers valuable resources for subsequent research in the domain of translanguaging in education that is founded on a better understanding of multilingualism and its significance in contemporary educational landscapes.
... Recent research has shown that being multilingual or multicultural correlates with greater openness and empathy, including increased social initiative (Dewaele & Wei, 2012; for frequent use of multiple languages, see Dewaele & Van Oudenhoven, 2009). Bilinguals are also more attuned to using speech accommodation than monolinguals (Lorge & Katsos, 2019). ...
Background: Proficient speakers of a language often accommodate less proficient speakers during conversation to facilitate comprehension, but information about factors such as personality and language experience that may shape how speakers perceive accommodation is limited. Purpose: We developed an online questionnaire to clarify the use of speech accommodation in relation to individual differences in anxiety, personality, and English proficiency. Method: Using Qualtrics Panels for recruitment, we surveyed a representative sample of second-language (L2) English speakers (n = 201) and first-language (L1) English speakers (n = 192) across the United States. We report descriptive results in addition to correlations and a factor analysis to assess the perception of accommodation in L2 and L1 speakers. Results: Only a third of L2 participants reported that L1 speakers change their speech when talking to them, and more than half are frustrated when L1 speakers do not accommodate them. Indeed, a majority of our L1 participants reported that they do not change their speech when talking to L2 speakers. For both groups, measures of anxiety, personality, and L2 proficiency modify results, providing novel evidence on factors that influence L2 accommodation. Conclusions: Results suggest that L1 speakers accommodate L2 speakers less frequently than previously reported. The data are discussed under communication accommodation theory.
... They found no correlation in the scores of children who were raised as bilinguals/trilinguals with high empathy levels. This indicates that even if an individual's upbringing has been in an environment where more than one language was spoken fluently, it is not sufficient by itself to increase their empathy levels (Dewaele & Wei, 2012). ...
Full-text available
Purpose. Languages play an important role in shaping our brain and personality. Numerous studies in the past have found that bilingual and trilingual individuals outperform monolinguals on certain cognitive assessments. In some studies, monolinguals have outperformed the other two groups on emotional tests. Most of the studies have reported mixed findings on this topic, making it difficult to draw conclusions. Procedure. For the first time, the present study attempts to examine linguistic ability, empathy, emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility in an Indian sample of 90 participants (Mage = 26.86 years, SD = 7.45) (28 monolingual, 30 bilingual and 32 trilingual). Each of the participants completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index Questionnaire, Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire – Short Form and Colour Stroop Test on PEBL (Psychology Experiment Building Language) software. Results. One – Way ANOVA revealed statistically significant results for Empathy [F(2,87) = 218.84, p
... Although there is still little research about the relationship between language and cognition in bilingual individuals (Athanasopoulos, 2011;Pavlenko, 2005), a recent study positively linked multilingualism and the frequent use of multiple languages to a higher level of cognitive empathy (Dewaele and Wei, 2012). Cognitive empathy "measures the appreciation of affective states" (Lawrence et al., 2004, p. 918), supporting the likelihood of multilingual individuals being "more skilful in conversations as they can see the world from their interlocutor's point of view" (Dewaele & Wei, 2012, p.364). ...
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This study explores Rapid Design Interventions and their outcomes on participants and organisations. Rapid Design Interventions (RDI) involve high-paced and intense workshops delivered by design facilitators according to design principles, using design methods and tools, in a hands-on fashion. Although numerous studies highlight the business value of design, most are interested in quantifiable results - the outputs. As such, there is still limited knowledge about the softer change that occurs as a result of design, the outcomes, and specifically as a result of Rapid Design Interventions. This study addresses this gap. Using Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) together with thematic analysis, this study draws on data gathered from participants of RDI, design facilitators and design thinkers, as well as leaders of organisations using RDI in the United Kingdom, Armenia and the United States. In line with the principles of CGT, the author was embedded in the research situation as a practitioner-researcher. The findings from this study indicate that RDI deliver three main outcomes. They help the participants develop an enhanced (1) entrepreneurial agency and creative confidence and (2) a strategic understanding of their organisation. Further, the participants start to integrate a design innovation approach into their day-to-day practice and their teams’, leading their organisations (3) towards a Design Innovation culture. The theory developed from this study contextualises these outcomes as being influ-enced by interactions between the DFs and their designerly approach, and the RDI participants, their organisational context and the external environment within which the organisation sits. Further, it identifies factors supporting the sustainment of these outcomes, from a supportive organisational culture, to a regular Design Innovation practice and exposure as well as the establishment of long-term relationships between participants and Design Facilitators. The study contributes to the understanding of Design Facilitation as a practice by identifying the phenomenon of Design Listening, which the author proposes as a key skill in enabling the creation of outcomes. Further, by focusing on the outcomes of Rapid Design Interventions, the research demonstrates that Design Facilitation aids in better understanding of the role of such activities in relation to the innovation read-iness of an organisation as well as the role of People as key catalysts for innovation. The contribution of this research is significant to academics interested in the field of design facilitation, to practitioners and design facilitators to enable a more purposeful design and deployment of RDI and to organisations in developing the potential power of design practice and directing their resources towards it.
... Along with participants viewing memes as having affordances for identity expression (Han, 2019;Kim, 2018), these findings point to the promise of memes and related literacy practices for language learning. This comparative case analysis revealed four semiotic affordances that can be beneficial for language and cultural knowledge learning, identity exploration and construction, integrating language learning with personal interest and life, and fostering intercultural competence, open-mindedness, and empathy, which are important current goals for language education (Dewaele & Li, 2012). Supporting current understanding of semiotics in CALL, our findings connect to themes in the literature, including empowering language learners' identity articulation (Schreiber, 2015;Smith et al., 2017), facilitating the exchange of linguacultural knowledge in the local and global contexts (Kim, 2018), and allowing for negotiation for meaning and reprodusing (Reinhardt & Thorne, 2019). ...
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Internet memes-usually taking the form of an image, GIF, or video with text-have become an important type of semiotic tool for meaning making. Due to the fact that memes can help learners leverage semiotic modes in social contexts, they hold great potential for language education. Integrating ecological social semiotic frameworks, this comparative case study examined the semiotic affordances of using memes for language learning in the digital wilds, with a focus on self-identified highly-motivated learner-memers in a university-level student-run Chinese-English intercultural chat group. Data sources included meme artifacts, screen shots, and recordings of meme-related communicative practices as well as semi-structed interviews with each participant. Analysis suggests there were four affordances perceived and utilized by the participants, including linking learners to emergent semiotic repertoires, L2 user agency, increased motivation, and personhood development. Key to learners' experiences was their awareness of perceived semiotic affordances and their agency to participate in meaning making for potentially meaningful learning experiences. We conclude with pedagogical implications for integrating the rich semiotic resources of memes into language classrooms.
Many people support “multilingualism” in theory, acknowledge the importance of heritage languages, and denounce the tragedy of language death. However, when it comes to multilingual praxis—using multiple languages as part of our classroom repertoire or when assessing students, developing materials and offering professional development, they often ask themselves: But how would this work in my own language classroom? Because many of us have not seen multilingual Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in practice, we cannot imagine it. This chapter provides a case study of the work done by one teacher, Kashif, to overcome this lack of imaginability. In this chapter, we present a case study of how the first author, Kashif, incorporates multilingual teaching practices into university-level, English for academic purposes (EAP) and English for specific purposes (ESP) courses in the Gulf. The chapter also argues that the case study makes visible the, often invisible, agency that teachers have as language planners for their own classrooms. The discussion of the case study centers around the already established benefits of a multilingual classroom and showcases how the case study on Kashif’s university-level EA/SP courses exemplifies these benefits through the use of the Teaching Adaptation Model or TAM (Raza in J Ethn Cult Stud 5:16–26, 2018, Raza in TESL Ontario Contact Mag 46:41–50, 2020), aimed to increase culturally sustaining pedagogy. A note about this chapter’s organization: The bulk of this chapter offers a case study of how the first author, Kashif, incorporates multilingual teaching practices into a university-level, EA/SP courses. The introduction, authored by the second author, Dudley, argues that the case study makes visible the, often invisible, agency that teachers have as language planners for their classrooms. The discussion of the case study, presented by the third author, Christine, centers around the already established benefits of a multilingual classroom and showcases how Kashif’s university-level EA/SP courses exemplify these benefits through the Teaching Adaptation Model or TAM (Raza in J Ethn Cult Stud 5:16–26, 2018, Raza in TESL Ontario Contact Mag 46:41–50, 2020), aimed to increase culturally sustaining pedagogy.
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The present article focuses on data collection through web questionnaires, as opposed to the traditional pen-and-paper method for research in second language acquisition and bilingualism. It is argued that web questionnaires, which have been used quite widely in psychology, have the advantage of reaching out to a larger and more diverse pool of potential participants, which may increase the ecological validity of the resulting database. After considering some issues raised in debates on the strengths and weaknesses of traditional approaches to data collection through questionnaires as opposed to web-based questionnaires, we present two case studies of research designs based on online questionnaires, that is, the bilingualism and emotions questionnaire (Dewaele and Pavlenko, 2001/03) and the feelings questionnaire (Wilson, 2008). We reflect on the issue of participant self-selection and conclude that the potential benefits of web-based questionnaires can outweigh their limitations.
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The paper reports on a study designed to examine the relationship between the thickness of ego boundaries and attainments in FL pronunciation after a clearly structured form-focused practical course of phonetics. The research involved 45 first-year students of the Institute of English Studies in Wroclaw, Poland, who had attended around thirty 90-minute classes in phonetics. To measure the thickness of their ego boundaries, the Hartmann Boundary Questionnaire (HBQ) was administered. This permitted an examination of which particular types of ego boundaries are related to accuracy in foreign language (FL) pronunciation. The basis for comparing the pronunciation levels of the participants was the Pronunciation Attainment Test consisting of three parts: reading a passage and two vocabulary lists. Attest demonstrated that the differences between the pronunciation levels of the thick and thin ego boundary learners were nonsignificant. However, further statistical analysis (Pearson correlation) showed a positive weak correlation between 3 types of boundaries (represented by Categories 7, 8 and 12 of the HBQ) and attainments in pronunciation. More specifically, the less organized the direct environment (e.g., the working place) of the subjects was and the more preference the participants showed for perceiving and accepting blurred borders between constructs, the better their pronunciation was. A closer look at particular students revealed the importance of boundaries between thoughts and feelings, and boundaries related to defensive mechanisms and to sensitivity in FL pronunciation learning.
How do bilinguals experience emotions? Do they perceive and express emotions similarly or differently in their respective languages? Does the first language remain forever the language of the heart? What role do emotions play in second language learning and in language attrition? Why do some writers prefer to write in their second language? In this provocative book, Pavlenko challenges the monolingual bias of modern linguistics and psychology and uses the lens of bi- and multilingualism to offer a fresh perspective on the relationship between language and emotions. Bringing together insights from the fields of linguistics, neurolinguistics, psychology, anthropology, psychoanalysis and literary theory, Pavlenko offers a comprehensive introduction to this cross-disciplinary movement. This is a highly readable and thought-provoking book that draws on empirical data and first hand accounts and offers invaluable advice for novice researchers. It will appeal to scholars and researchers across many disciplines.
This book presents the latest developments in crosslinguistic influence (CLI) and multilingualism research. The contributors, both veteran researchers and relative newcomers to the field, situate their research in current debates in terms of theory and data analysis and they present it in an accessible way. The chapters investigate how and when native and non-native language knowledge is used in language production. They focus on lexis, syntax, tense-aspect, phonology of multilingual production and link it to a range of concepts such as redundancy, affordances, metalinguistic awareness and L2 status. The empirical data have been collected from participants with a wide combination of languages: besides English, German, French and Spanish, there is Finnish, Swedish, Polish, Chinese and Catalan. © 2011 Gessica De Angelis, Jean-Marc Dewaele and the authors of individual chapters. All rights reserved.
Book Synopsis: This is the first large-scale investigation on how multilinguals feel about their languages and use them to communicate emotion. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, Jean-Marc Dewaele looks at the factors that affect multilinguals' self-perceived competence, attitudes, communicative anxiety, language choice and code-switching when expressing feelings, anger and when swearing. Nearly 1600 multilinguals from all over the world participated in the research. The results suggest that how and when a language was learnt determines future use and communicative anxiety. Aspects such as present use of the language, the total number of languages known, and the level of emotional intelligence also play an important role. Interviews with participants reveal the importance of cultural factors and show how the slow process of acculturation in a new community is accompanied by gradual changes in language preferences to communicate emotions.