- How many languages do you speak, apart from your mother tongue or L1?
In our group, apart from our L1, we all speak English fluently, one of us speaks Bulgarian, another one speaks Italian, and two of us speak German.
- Is your mother tongue your L1?
Yes, it is. We all speak either Spanish or Valencian as a mother tongue and L1.
- Are there things you find easier in one language than the other?
Yes there are, some languages come to us easier at a colloquial level and others come to us easier at a formal level. It also appears to be easier to us to express ourselves in English when it comes to academic teaching vocabulary due to the fact that we have learnt and studied that vocabulary mainly in English during our degrees and Masters.
- In language use terms, how would you describe the society you live in? Are the people in that society plurilingual?
We live in a multilingual context where two different languages co-exist and are available within the same territory, and where many people are exposed to two languages since birth. Thus many people are plurilingual ( speaking Valencian and Spanish) in the region. English despite not being considered as part of the multilingual context of the Spanish context – only two out of ten English speakers have a level that can be considered higher that intermediate- is certainly on the raise and the amount of people being able to understand it and speak it as well as to be considered an L2 or an L3 is slowly but considerably increasing.
- How would you encourage ‘bilingualism’ in your classroom?
Bilingualism, defined as the ability to build understandable utterances in any of the two languages that are known, can be fostered through an equal exposure to both languages in a classroom. When speaking about Valencian and Spanish the challenge is difficult enough, especially in some regions, but when speaking about English and Spanish the challenge is daunting. In order to promote bilingualism in our classrooms we need teachers whose levels of proficiency are high enough to provide a correct input, we need to promote English as a valid and useful vehicular language in class and we need to rethink the actual English teaching in order for it be focused on the process rather than the result.
- Do you feel some languages have a higher status in the classroom?
Yes we do. Especially in our region some languages are unofficially considered better to express oneself than others. Many schools give preference to Spanish in their teaching and some of them even prefer English teaching to be above Valencian teaching. An equal use between languages in school can be very positive for our students that have the possibility of becoming bilinguals or multilinguals since a very early age with no effort at all.