• resourceful multilingual and multicultural learning environments
  • integration of language & content studies
  • linguistic landscapes
  • multilingualism in the workplace
  • translanguaging


Multilingualism in School and Higher Education

This Lab aims to develop a research based understanding of the societal challenges and potential solutions in connection with increasing multilingualism, which can be seen to characterize contemporary societies in Europe, both through shifting demographics and increasingly common use of deterritorialized online media.

Mainstream educational practices often conceal and devalue the heterogeneity of language practices, competencies and resources which are a commonplace in multilingual Europe today. This Lab adopts a resource-based view of language resources and everyday multilingual practices, with a central focus on pedagogical practices and recommendations for primary, secondary and tertiary education (including vocational education).  

The resource-based view of language repertoires and multilingual practices refers to the inherent need for all individuals and communities in current societies, in Europe and beyond, to be aware of and develop a flexible set of individual and societal language resources. Multilingualism thus entails a variety of language resources – communication skills, proficiency in additional languages and versatile multiliteracy skills needed to participate in current and future society.

Language resources are often referred to as multiliteracies that involve and support working with different types of (digital) texts, media and interaction, in different situations and using different languages at the same time. Furthermore, digital services and (social) media environments create new opportunities for multimodal, multilingual encounters in different domains of life. In order to navigate and critically engage in these environments, multilingual digital multiliteracy skills are necessary.

Research areas

Initiators of this Lab propose to plan and pilot research on the following topics. Later, these topics can be expanded and modified, depending on the research interests and profiles of further Lab members and collaboration partners.

  1. Innovative language practices in education with a special regard to multilingual pedagogies and pedagogies enhancing the development of digital literacy skills
  2. Multilingual and multicultural encounters in education, with a special regard to changing political dynamics (e.g. neo-nationalism, national populism, effects of migration in education policies, etc.)
  3. Higher Education Institutions and internationalization, with a focus on current practices and opportunities for renewal, e.g. creating genuinely international and multilingual learning and working environments for students and staff
  4. Semiotics of multilingualism, with a focus on the relationship between organizational culture and material culture (e.g. what languages are represented visually, what languages are invisible and/or inaudible in the linguistic landscape, etc.)
  5. Development of new resources (e.g. corpora or databases) for studying language-in-use in educational settings

Planned outputs of the Lab and current work in progress

X as a medium of instruction / Implementation of EMI programs

Output Manager: Sergio Maruenda (University of València)

This output consists of several goals. In the short term the output involves a webinar to share experiences on XMI at a local level and set some of the long-term goals. The webinar took place on 9 November 2020 and included the outline and discussion of a proposal for an XMI course for teaching personnel within the FORTHEM Alliance, whose modules will be designed locally by the different partners. The ultimate goal is to hold the course in one or more of the partner universities and provide a digital version for the FORTHEM Digital Academy.

The “XMI/EMI as a Medium of Instruction” program counts already on a draft module-based proposal whose contents are being currently developed. The tentative date for the implementation of the output will be July 2021.

Multimodality of academic genres in multilingual education

Output Manager: Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska (University of Opole)

This output is a collaborative writing project in which researchers, academic teachers and students from the University of Opole, the University of Latvia, the University of Jyväskylä and the University of València to promote multimodality in multilingual education. The task is to report and reflect on case studies, reviews of literature, and current projects in an aim to evaluate which academic genres could be enhanced with multimodality and how this can be done productively and cost-effectively. The resulting manual will provide anyone interested in multimodality with both introductory and latest knowledge of how to make the experiences in multilingual education more fulfilling and communications (including virtual exchanges) more effective through multimodality.The publicized manual will subsequently be promoted through webinars and presentations as well as included in workshops for staff and students. It will have an impact in fostering multiliteracies in academia and beyond. 

A citizen science project on multilingualism in education

Output Managers: Petteri Laihonen (University of Jyväskylä) and Marcin Deutschmann (University of Opole)

The aim of the output “Multilingualism in schools” is to address the linguistic diversity in schools and to actively involve different members of the society, in this case students, pupils and teachers, in the applied linguistic research on multilingualism. We plan a European citizen science project together with all stakeholders and outreach partners and pilot it in partner sites, first in Jyväskylä (Autumn 2020) and then in Opole (Spring 2021) and in València (Autumn 2021).

The pilot phase was carried out in Jyväskylä. The team reported on the launch of the pilot in October 2020 and summarized the experiences from the pilot phase in February 2021. Further, the Jyväskylä team participated in an international virtual conference Knowledge for Change: A decade of Citizen Science (2020–2030) in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, which has significantly helped them in developing a Citizen Science agenda for research in Humanities and Social Sciences (see their brief report about the lessons learnt from the conference).

The conceptual phase of the project in Opole started in October. The pilot itself, with students’ participation started in December 2020, and the partner highschool from Kędzierzyn-Koźle with teacher and pupils joined in February. The end of the pilot, its summary and evaluation is planned for mid-April. The methodological challenges and opportunities of doing extreme citizen science in the pandemic were presented in December in the open online seminar entitled: Metodologiczne problemy badań socjologicznych w sytuacji pandemii (Methodological problems of sociological research in the pandemic), organized by Polish Sociological Association. Reports from the output development, where published for instance in Instagram, and on the website.


Schoolscape course about multilingual learning environments

Output Managers: Tamás Péter Szabó (University of Jyväskylä), Jannis Androutsopoulos (associated partner, University of Hamburg) and Tuuli From (associated partner, University of Helsinki)

The course helps students to build strategies for the conscious design and development of the linguistic landscape of learning environments (that is, schoolscapes). It raises awareness to the role schoolscapes play in institutional interaction of various kinds (classroom interaction, organizational cultures of communication, and narrated local/national/global history), and invites students to build a spatial and social understanding of learning.

Currently the course developing team consists of students and academics from the Universities of Jyväskylä, València and Opole, and Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Associated partners from the Universities of Hamburg and Helsinki contribute to the development of content and coordination.

A modular structure is designed for the course to enhance flexibility. The theoretical and methodological grounds of the course content and structure were presented in Tamás Péter Szabó’s keynote lecture in the Digital Symposium on Linguistic Landscapes in Second Language Teaching and Learning Contexts conference on 17 December 2020 (detailed  information about this specific course can be fount from 37 min 50 sec onward).

The course content is continuously developed, the team meets every month. The course will be available via FORTHEM Digital Academy in the Spring term of 2022.

Multilingualism in schools: methods and strategies for teaching languages

Output Manager: Luisa Amenta (University of Palermo)

The spring school in 2021, taking place 31 May to 4 June seeks to find ways for teachers to better include multilingual students and pupils by creating an international program for the FORTHEM Alliance, promoting and sharing experiences and good practises, identifying challenges and needs of teachers teaching multilingual groups, and through other means.

Chatbots and multilingual interaction

Output Manager: Laurent Gautier (University of Burgundy)

This output aims at promoting plurilingualism and intercultural interactions through the use of chatbots by a) developing a multilingual Natural Language Understanding engine that could be implemented and used by every FORTHEM Alliance member, and b) by providing a framework to favor and facilitate direct interactions between people from different cultures through chatbots.

Plain languages

Output Managers: Laurent Gautier (University of Burgundy) Silvia Hansen-Schirra and Sylvia Thiele (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz)

This output seeks to produce contributions to the Easy Language movement that strives for communicative inclusion of people from different linguistic backgrounds. The output’s contributions come especially from a technological aspect.

Peter and the wolf goes plurilingual – an interdisciplinary multilingual teaching project

Output Managers: Sylvia Thiele and Ayse Gürel, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz

This pilot lays groundwork for a further output for the Digital Academy.

Lab contact information

Alliance level Contact Persons

University of Jyväskylä, Finland Senior Researcher, Adjunct Professor Tamás Péter Szabó
University of Jyväskylä, Finland Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor Petteri Laihonen


University level Contact Persons

Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany Professor Sylvia Thiele
University of Burgundy, France Professor Laurent Gautier
University of Opole, Poland Associate Professor Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska
University of Opole, Poland Assistant Professor Magdalena Szyszka
University of Palermo, Italy Associate Professor Luisa Amenta
University of Latvia, Riga Professor Ina Druviete
University of Latvia, Riga Professor Alla Placinska
University of Latvia, Riga Doctoral Researcher Olga Pashinska
University of Latvia, Riga Doctoral Researcher Jevgenija Selivanova
University of València, Spain Senior Lecturer Sergio Maruenda, Department of English

Associated partners contributing to the Lab

Highlighted events and progress in the Lab

FIT FORTHEM Match-making event 'Science as a civic skill - Citizen science in schools', 27 April 2021 (virtual seminar)

First Alliance level Progress Meeting, 19 April 2021 (virtual seminar)

Alliance level kick-off, 31 March – 2 April 2020 (virtual seminar)

Alliance level output planning meetings, 23, 25 and 30 June 2020 (a series of virtual seminars).


Blog posts from Lab activities

From Theory to Action - the Citizen Science Pilot Kicks Off

Citizen Science workshop brings together academics and external stakeholders

Virtual event to develop a European Citizen Science project for schools and other partners

Multilingualism Lab's first Alliance-level progress meeting: A student's perspective on the Lab

Reflections on Multilingualism in School citizen science pilot

1st FORTHEM pilot course on English/X as a medium of instruction at the University of Valencia