Document Type: Original Article
Newcastle University, UK
For many centuries people who speak more than one language, that is to say second language (L2) users, have been admired. In the 16th century an advisor to Elizabeth I of England said: ‘For even as a hawk flieth not high with one wing, even so a man reacheth not to excellency with one tongue.’ Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster, 1570 In the 21st century the education minister for Elizabeth II proclaimed: ‘It is literally the case that learning languages makes you smarter. The neural networks in the brain strengthen as a result of language learning.’ Michael Gove, UK Education Secretary, 2011 Yet, despite these public statements, bilingualism is more often seen as a problem to be solved than an asset to be developed. Second language (L2) users indeed have problems, whether social, psychological or economic – like everyone else. But few of these stem from their bilingualism itself.