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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2020

9 - Are Multilinguals the Better Academic ELF Users?

from Part II - Zooming in on ELF

Summary

The question of putative multilingual advantages is still being hotly debated. Following some initial euphoria, the field is currently characterized by a wave of sobering criticism, as key findings fail to be replicated. Here we offer a summary of the current controversy, followed by a discussion of new evidence drawn from a questionnaire study of 1,454 students and 341 instructors at the University of Hamburg. This study measures self-assessed proficiencies in English among subjects who regularly use English as a lingua franca in the context of tertiary education. We compare self-assessed English proficiencies between monolingually and multilingually raised ELF users in five CEFR domains. The results attest slightly higher scores for multilingually raised ELF users, of statistical significance in some domains, which we interpret in terms of a multilingual advantage. However, we wish to be cautious about generalizing these findings, as they need to be substantiated by tests that objectively measure proficiencies.