Plurilingualism & Pluriculturalism

 The CEFR makes a distinction between “pluriculturalism” and “multiculturalism” as well as between “plurilingualism” and “multilingualism.”

 In the context of this project, “multilingual” refers to situations in which multiple languages exist side-by-side in society but are used separately. “Plurilingual,” on the other hand, applies to situations in which a person possessing competence in more than one language switches between languages according to the circumstances at hand in order to cope with a social matter.

 Example: A town is inhabited by native speakers of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese. If there is no form of mutual exchange between the groups, that town is said to be multilingual. However, let’s say a Japanese person, A, learns Chinese and is looking to buy a used car from a Chinese person, B, who lives in the same town and can speak a little bit of Japanese. If A and B are able to negotiate a purchase agreement by switching between language codes as they see fit, we could say the two have plurilingual competence. They would also be considered familiar with cultural codes, in this case commercial practices, and therefore possess the required level of pluricultural competence.