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A Social Approach to Multilingualism


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



Diversity, and perhaps even “super”-diversity characterizes the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Extensive multilingualism comes along with it. How to handle linguistic diversity and multilingualism? And what actually is multilingualism? In this course, we take a social and critical approach to multilingualism, focusing not on the linguistic effects per se, but on societal issues in which the multiplicity of languages plays an important role, as well as on the views and ideas that language users develop when they are confronted with linguistic diversity. What do we mean when we talk about “integration” and “heritage languages”? Is language testing a good idea? What is the relationship between language and identity? What kind of policies can governments and other institutions develop in order to deal with multiple languages in education and in the workplace? These and related issues will be discussed in this course. We read and discuss chapters from the course book (Horner & Weber 2018 – make sure you have the 2nd edition!). Through in-class discussions, activities, assignments and presentations we will explore the societal and ideological aspects connected to the exciting phenomenon of multilingualism.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to:

  • Describe social and ideological aspects of (societal and individual) multilingualism

  • Evaluate policies targeting (societal and individual) multilingualism

  • Assess the importance of linguistic diversity in social domains such as education, the workplace and the family

  • Discuss multilingual conflict sites both orally and in writing.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction


Assessment Method

Class participation (15%)
Presentation (15%)
Assignment 1 (20%)
Assignment 2 (20%)
Essay (30%)

Reading list

Horner, Kristine & Jean-Jacques Weber. 2018. Introducing Multilingualism. A Social Approach. 2nd edition. London & New York: Routledge.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Prof. dr. G.J. Rutten,