Competence and new speaker varieties

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WG7 adopts a multilingual perspective on new speakers. Within this conceptual framework we understand ‘multilingual competence’ to be examined as a CONTINUUM between a FORM and its FUNCTION in society. Therefore, we find it necessary to employ an interdisciplinary outlook on new speakers’ competence, which includes linguistic, psycholinguistic, educational, sociolinguistic, economic and political research perspectives. We will try to investigate and explain the concept of multilingual competence from all the above angles. We will examine the formal aspects that the different languages of a new speaker may take, i.e. focus on specific linguistic features, language processing and code switching. We will also consider the various functions played by the different languages of a new speaker, as perceived by the individual and by the environment, i.e. focus on registers and styles, indexicalities, social consequences and values attributed to languages. To achieve its aims, the working group will combine different quantitative and qualitative methodologies: psycholinguistic experimental studies on L2-Ln languages; classroom-oriented experiments; narrative assessment of speakers' competence in L2-Ln languages;  questionnaire research; focus groups; structured and unstructured interviews; linguistic biographies; corpus studies. We believe that this kind of interdisciplinary research with the use of complementary methods will provide us with valuable insights into the concept of multilingual competence at the individual and societal level.