Language learning promotes multilingualism and intercultural understanding. It is also important to promote the richness of Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity and to maintain and cultivate it. It is essential to learn throughout life, not only in the school context but also outside it, during studies, for professional needs, but also for reasons of mobility or leisure and various exchanges. Language learning has benefits for everyone and for all ages; it is never too late to learn a language and take advantage of the opportunities it offers. Knowing even a few words in the language of the country we are visiting (for holidays, for example), allows us to establish contacts of great wealth. Learning the languages of other peoples allows us to better understand each other and to overcome our cultural differences.
Millions of people believe that they do not know languages other than their mother tongue. However, there are many who possess at least rudiments of another language. However, they have more than ever the opportunity to learn a new language. To emphasize the interest in learning foreign languages, the Council of Europe has established a European Day of Languages (FEZ) which is celebrated every year on 26th September. Europe has a real linguistic treasure: there are more than 200 European languages, not counting the languages spoken by citizens from other continents. This important resource must be recognized, used and maintained.
We must not underestimate the interest of language learning, as this allows us to better understand the people, culture and traditions of other countries. People who can easily communicate with representatives of other cultures tend to be more tolerant. We must not forget that, knowing only one foreign language, we depend on the linguistic competence – and goodwill – of someone else. Learning to use another language means much more than acquiring a useful skill, this reflects an attitude, respect for the other’s identity and culture and a certain tolerance for diversity. Increasingly, the diversity of languages and cultures is seen as a wealth, as is biodiversity, in the natural environment. Each language has its own way of perceiving the world and is the product of its own history. All languages have their own identity and value and all have equal relevance as a way of expression for the people who speak them. We know, from comparisons between the speed of speech learning in children, that no language is inherently more difficult to learn than another.
Multilingualism and multiculturalism refer only to an awareness of the use of several languages or cultures in a specific geographical area or area. Interculturality (intercultural communication) focuses on a continuous dialogue of cultural differences, which when uninstitutionalized, has the effect of mutual exchanges of customs, traditions, etc. Thus the area of multilingualism and, implicitly, multiculturalism, extends to the whole society, all communities. of peoples in Europe, representing multicultural societies especially through the phenomenon of globalization, by expanding access to information from various parts of the world and by studying foreign languages.
The notion of interculturality is often used today in the field of pedagogy and aims at a type of education based on otherness, diversity and communication in an environment characterized by pluralism. Multiculturalism becomes a wealth through the interaction between cultures, without erasing the specific identity of each of them. Multiculturalism becomes interculturality. Claude Clanet states: „culture is a set of levels and systems”, and „intercultural relations must be thought of as interrelationships between levels and between heterogeneous systems”.
Talk about multicultural communication today, when people can be in touch with their peers on the other side of the world with a single click of the internet, with the help of mobile telephony or the media, the news circulating much faster than the means traditional means to know our fellow men better, to understand and accept them, and to communicate more effectively between us. The increasing contacts with people from other countries make us reflect first of all on ourselves, on the efficiency of our way of communicating.
Globalization has made intercultural communication an inevitable fact. Today’s world is undergoing rapid change, the interaction between people is taking on new dimensions. Contact and communication with other cultures are the dominant features of modern life, the world seems to be unable to live without the benefits of technology, without being able to get in touch quickly with the person on the other side of the country, without being able to hold a video conference. what is the latest news in the world. All these contacts with others, having either economic, political or cultural purposes, lead us to a more open way of communication, to an intercultural communication. To better understand what multiculturalism is, we must consider the important role of context (social, cultural and historical) in intra- and extra-cultural relations, the multilateral link between culture and communication, the complexity and tensions involved in intercultural relations.
Multicultural communication means direct interaction between people of different cultures. Multicultural communication involves much more than understanding the norms of a group, it involves accepting and tolerating differences. Intercultural communication was born due to the interference of several common notions, such as cross-cultural communication, international or global communication, intercultural relations. All these notions have been subsumed in a broader concept, that of intercultural communication.
Interculturalism starts from a different perspective on the concept of culture. „Culture must be understood as being represented by constantly changing values, by traditions, social and political relations, created everywhere, proper to a group of people. As such, it includes not only tangible elements, such as food, holidays, clothing, artistic expressions, but also less tangible manifestations, such as communication style, attitudes, values, family relationships.” (Anca Nedelcu)
The multicultural environment can stimulate creativity and imagination because in such an environment we can learn about the traditions, customs and legends of peoples, developing our imagination and fantasy, and this information we accumulate over time can be useful in almost any situation. Different cultures mean different concepts, beliefs, ideas and opinions, and their exchange contributes to the evolution of society, because cooperation, not conflict, will lead to a better future. In my opinion, the national character is something that we will always have both in our soul and in our reason. Multiculturalism should help in interpersonal relationships. I believe that every country should keep its traditions, and multiculturalism should be just a way to learn new things.
Anca Nedelcu, ”Fundamentele educației interculturale”, Ed. Polirom, 2008
Claude Clanet, ”Corps, cultures et therapies”, Ed. Interculturels, (French Edition), 1993