Tartu, Estonia

Multilingualism and Beyond in the European Context

when 28 July 2024 - 11 August 2024
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 650

Almost all language practices are multilingual in their nature since they include different languages, language varieties, genres, styles, so-called dialects, etc. In a highly globalised era characterised by emigration and the movement of people with different linguistic backgrounds, questions related to multilingualism are crucial for single individuals immigrants who seek new homes and asylum in Europe, as well as for these hosting countries. A relevant example is the wave of Ukrainian immigration in Europe and, in particular, Estonia. Despite sharing a common background, Ukrainians are characterised by extremely variegated language repertoires and linguistic skills that they accommodate in the hosting countries. When coming to Estonia, Ukrainians might use different ways of communication. They can use English if they have enough proficiency in the language. They can also communicate in Russian as both Estonians and Ukrainians have considerable L2 experience from the Soviet time. However, the varieties of Russian as spoken in Ukraine differ from those of Russia, Estonia, etc., and some Ukrainians speak a version of Surzhik, a cover name for a continuum of in-between varieties. At the same time in Estonia, only 30% of the population constitutes a Russian-speaking minority, and the young generation of Estonians mostly have only passive knowledge of Russian. In this case, it is also possible to employ Ukrainian while communicating with Estonians and reach an understanding via passive knowledge of Russian (e.g., mediated receptive multilingualism) as usually, Estonians are sympathetic towards Ukraine and this may be a factor facilitating communication. Interlocutors can negotiate the meaning, combine codeswitching with other language modes, etc., to make communication happen.

This course is particularly focused on the complexity of multilingualism in Estonia and the European context (based on a few examples). In particular, we aim to pay attention to how individuals use resources for their language repertoire to accommodate communication in the current context of emigration.

We will introduce the concepts of multilingualism, different types of multilingualism and language acquisition theories, multilingual people as agents of change, and various contact-induced language change phenomena. This course aims to equip students with the necessary theoretical and methodological knowledge for designing and developing experimental studies in the field of multilingualism.

We discuss how multilingualism can be studied in concrete communicative situations and particular research guidelines. We explore multilingualism through practical and reflexive tasks and give practical knowledge of how to conduct experiments and approach multilingual practices in different environments (everyday communication, the internet, social media, linguistic landscape, schools, etc.).

Course leader

Alessandra Dezi and Anna Branets, Ph.D. Candidates

Target group


Course aim

Students completing the course will:

-Understand the complexity of the concept of multilingualism and multilingual practices
-Have an overview of multilingualism in Estonia in the current global situation
-Develop critical analytical skills to approach questions related to multilingualism
-Understand methods applied for the analysis of different material
-Develop own experimental design or research framework

The course presumes active participation and contribution from students with their own reflecting and research tasks. The target group is BA, MA students, and life-long learners who are interested in multilingual studies and aim to expand their theoretical and practical knowledge or who are interested in the Estonian multilingual context.

The required reading: approximately 50 pages assigned by lecturers.

Fee info

EUR 650: Course fee
EUR 245: Accommodation in the student dormitories for 14 nights.


Find out about the scholarships on our website.

In collaboration with DAAD, the University of Tartu offers 5 scholarships for German students.

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