Alistair Pennycook (in the vicinity)

Masterclass with Professor Alastair Pennycook

University of Technology, Sydney

Tuesday 21 September 2010

12.30 lunch, 1.30-4.00pm class


MOSAIC Centre for research on Multilingualism

Room G39, School of Education, University of Birmingham


A plurality of multilingualisms

In this paper, Professor Alastair Pennycook will explore the need not only to look at the diversity of languages implied by the label ‘multilingualism’ but also the need to account for the diversity of multilingualisms that result from a serious engagement with contexts and uses of language. Several different perspectives drive this move: First is the observation that multilingualism, as commonly discussed, tends towards a pluralization of monolingualism. Monolingualism is decried as an aberration and multilingualism sanctified as a desirable plurality. The problem here is that this view of multilingualism fails to question its own views on languages and their countability. Second, if we take language ideologies seriously and engage not only with language diversity but also local views of language, we are pushed towards a more perspectival view of diversity which suggests that multilingualism must be locally contingent and therefore plural. And third, language use on the ground is often better explained in terms of the deployment of multiple and multimodal resources rather than the use of different languages. The question, then, is whether multilingualism is best understood as a singular or plural concept, whether the plurality contained in the ‘multi’ captures diversity of language use. A proliferation of new terminology seeking to capture the idea of plurality within a singular entity (diversity is taken as a given) while also emphasizing the idea of language as activity, has recently been but forward, including translanguaging, plurilanguaging, polylingualism, metrolingualism, urbilingualism, and multilingua franca. This plurality of ways of looking at language diversity will be discussed and evaluated.

Organisers: Deirdre Martin and Marilyn Martin-Jones The number of participants on the course is limited to 60, so early application is recommended. Application form and further details are available at:

The deadline for submission of applications is Friday 17 September 2010.