Dimensions of Multilingualism

Objectives and competences

• Students are introduced to the history of research on multilingualism;
• Introduction to major topics like varieties of multilingualism, bilingual language acquisition and language processing, code shifting, cognitive benefits of multilingualism, diglossia.


No special prerequisites for enrolment.


Millions of people around the world grow up in a multilingual environment and attain more than one native language. There is, however, a continuum of degrees of acquisition and differences in the manner of language attainment among multilinguals. This course presents an introduction into psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic research on multilingualism and highlights the major linguistic and cognitive parameters of bi-/multilingualism. In the context of discussing different kinds of multilingualism students are also acquainted with the notions of dominant language, heritage language, regional language, multiethnolect, diglossia. The interested students will be offered to get hands-on experience as volunteers in the University of Nova Gorica's branch of the international consultancy center “Bilingualism Matters”.

Intended learning outcomes

Acquaintance with the classic and current trends in research in the relevant field.
• bilingual first language acquisition
- early differentiation of languages; a dominant language;
- acquistional delay or acquisitional advantage.
• bilingual processing
- syntactic processing;
- lexical retrieval;
- code switching;
- pragmatic abilities.
• cognitive benefits of multilingualism
- development of children’s executive control system;
- adult condition and aging.
• sociolinguistic component of multilinguialism studies:
- diglossia;
- multiethnolects;
- regional languages;
- heritage languages,
- Slovenian in a multilingual Europe


  • Bhatia,T. and W. Ritchie (eds.) 2013. The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism. Catalogue
  • Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, and cognition. New York: Cambridge University Press.Catalogue E-version
  • Bialystok, E. (2009). ‘Bilingualism: The good, the bad, and the indifferent’, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 12: 3-11. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728908003477
  • GRGIČ, M. (2016), Slovenščina v Italiji danes: paradoksi ideologije in pragmatike. V: Dialogi. LII/7-8, str. 95-101. Catalogue


Presence and active class participation; five one-page article summaries; final paper (a review of a topic or original data collection and discussion) (10/20/70).

Lecturer's references

Penka Stateva is an associate professor of Linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities and the Graduate School at the University of Nova Gorica. She is an expert in theoretical and experimental semantics and pragmatics. A big part of her recent research pursues the study of different linguistic and cognitive aspects of bilingualism with a special focus on Slovenian in the context of multilingualism. Penka Stateva is the Director of the Slovenian branch of the International consultancy center "Bilingualism Matters” which is hosted by the University of Nova Gorica.

Selected references:

STEPANOV, Arthur, KODRIČ, Karmen Brina, STATEVA, Penka. The role of working memory in children's ability for prosodic discrimination. PloS one, ISSN 1932-6203, Mar. 2020, vol. 15, no. 3, str. 1-16.

DUPUY, Ludivine Emma, STATEVA, Penka, ANDREETTA, Sara, CHEYLUS, Anne, DÉPREZ, Viviane, HENST, Jean-Baptiste van der, JAYEZ, Jacques, STEPANOV, Arthur, REBOUL, Anne Colette. Pragmatic abilities in bilinguals : the case of scalar implicatures. Linguistic approaches to bilingualism, ISSN 1879-9264, 2019, vol. 9, iss. 2, str. 1-27

STEPANOV, Arthur, ANDREETTA, Sara, STATEVA, Penka, ZAWISZEWSKI, Adam, LAKA, Itziar. Anomaly detection in processing of complex syntax by early L2 learners. Second language research, ISSN 0267-6583, 2020, vol. 36, iss. 3, str. 371-397.

STEPANOV, Arthur, PAVLIČ, Matic, STATEVA, Penka, REBOUL, Anne. Children's early bilingualism and musical training influence prosodic discrimination of sentences in an unknown language. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, ISSN 0001-4966, 2018, vol. 143.