+44 20 80501535


A person is multilingual if he or she has communication skills in several languages. The reasons for this can be manifold. Language skills depend on linguistic role models, the learning environment and the function of language and changes throughout life. Multilingualism enhances a person’s cognitive abilities.

Need a translation?

Forms of multilingualism

A multilingual is someone who comes into contact with several languages from birth but also someone who learns other languages as a young person or adult. Multilingualism does not necessarily mean mastering three or more languages; this also includes bilingualism. There are different definitions and views on what language means in the context of multilingualism and whether language varieties such as dialects are included.

Individual multilingualism

Individual multilingualism is the ability of a person to communicate in several languages. If necessary, the speaker can switch from one language to another during a conversation.

Institutional multilingualism

Institutional multilingualism is when public institutions or organisations offer their services in different languages, such as multilingual schools or Deutsche Bahn.

Load more

FAQ: More questions about multilingualism

What is multilingualism?

Multilingualism is the ability of a person to speak more than one language.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of multilingualism?

As a rule, multilingualism does not pose a problem but rather has a positive effect on children’s cognitive development. It is true that multilingualism is sometimes associated with greater effort, for example if the caregivers themselves do not have a perfect command of the language to be learned. Nevertheless, the acquisition of several languages is definitely worth supporting.

At what point are you considered multilingual?

Multilinguals are all people who either grow up with two or more languages from birth or learn languages that are not their mother tongue later in life, for example at school.

What does polyglot mean?

A person is called polyglot if he or she speaks an above-average number of languages. The term comes from ancient Greek and is composed of “poly” (much) and “glōtta” (tongue, language).

What is a polyglot?

Polyglots have an above-average command of many languages and can learn new foreign languages with relatively little effort.

Why is multilingualism important?

Multilingualism is first and foremost important for intercultural exchange. At the same time, it also promotes personal development as well as career opportunities in an international context.

How many children grow up multilingual in Germany?

It is assumed that about one third of all pupils in Germany grow up at least bilingual.

When and how does multilingualism arise?

Multilingualism can have many reasons, for example living in language border areas or parents with different mother tongues. Children who are confronted with two languages from birth are called simultaneously bilingual. Those who learn the foreign language later are called successively bilingual.

What is institutional multilingualism?

Institutional multilingualism exists when public institutions offer their services in different languages.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.