Vivian Cook SLL and LT   Bilingual Signs   Chinatowns

Siempre la lengua fue companera del imperio (language has always been the companion of Empire) Elio Antonio de Nebrija 1492 (cited in Di Pietro, 1976)

Bilingual sign Toronto
Biliingualism in Ireland poster
Poster in Toronto Poster in Dublin

Arret road sign Toronto 
Road sign in Quebec City (i.e. not 'Stop' or 'Halt')

Placard in Geneva


Welsh English sign London

Perhaps the only official bilingual notice in London


Bilingual sign Brick Lane
East London Street

Shop in Geneva

Stowell Street Chinese bilingual street sign
Newcastle Street


Bilingual street Beverley

Toronto street


Multi-ethnic London food shop
London Food Shop


Irish English bilingual sign zoo
Dublin Park

London as a multilingual city?

Wet paint quadrilingual bilingual sign       Civic Centre multilingual Newcastle sign

Newcastle notices


Warning Signs in Taipei


Bilingual sign Ristorante Taj Mahal

Restaurant in Italy


Bilingual sign Chinsese restaurantBilingual restaurant sign Brusssels

Bilingual Make up school sign BRussels

Restaurants etc in Brussels

Bilingual Latin English sign Wallsend

           Platform/Suggestus Latin/English

Wallsend Metro Station

 Bilingual English Chinese Comic City

German Toilet door

Out of Order Quadrilingual

Info on English as an Additional Language at the National Literacy Trust
For a collection of multilingual signs go to

Questions for bilinguals

do you use the two languages:

 in different situations or in the same situation?

to different people or the same people?

the L1 while using the L2, e.g. by translating?

code-switching during the course of a conversation?

two mental lexicons or one?


Did you learn your two languages consecutively?

Did learning an L2 have an effect on the rest of your education?

Effects: did you feel:

social advantages or disadvantages?

mental advantages or disadvantages? 
L1 loss?

The Different Roles of Second Languages

1. Local goals - foster an L2 within a society
a) assimilationist language teaching - minority speakers learn the majority language
b) transitional language teaching - minority speakers learn to function in majority language
c) language maintenance and bilingual language teaching - minority speakers learn to function in both languages
2. International goals - foster an L2 for use outside the society
a) careers that require a second language b) higher education
c) access to research and information d) travel
3. Individual goals - develop qualities in the learner rather than language per se
a) understanding of foreign cultures b) understanding language itself
c) cognitive training d) general educational values
e) learning L2 as an academic subject

f) L2 learning as social change


1) to develop the ability to use the language effectively for purposes of practical communication
2) to form a sound base of the skills, language, and attitudes required for further study, work and leisure
3) to offer insights into the language and civilisation of the countries where the language is spoken
4) to develop an awareness of the nature of language and language learning
5) to provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation
6) to encourage positive attitudes towards foreign language learning and towards speakers of foreign languages and a sympathetic approach to other cultures and civilisations
7) to promote learning skills of a more general application (e.g. analysis, memorising, drawing of inferences)

Arnberg, L. (1987), Raising Children Bilingually: The Pre-school Years, Multilingual Matters

Baker, P. & Eversley, J. (2000), Multilingual Capital, Battlebridge

Byram, M. (1986), Minority Education and Ethnic Survival, Multilingual Matters

Cook, V.J. (1996) Second Language Learning and Language Teaching, 2nd ed Chapter Six

Grosjean, F. (1982), Life with Two Languages, Harvard U.P.

Harding, E., & Riley, P. (1986), The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents, C.U.P.

Kramsch, C. (1993), Context and Culture in Language Teaching, OUP

Laponce, J.A. (1987), Languages and their Territories, University of Toronto Press

Phillipson, R. (1992), Linguistic Imperialism, OUP

Romaine, S. (1989), Bilingualism, Blackwell, Oxford

Saunders, G. (1982), Bilingual Children: Guidance for the Family, Multilingual Matters

Spolsky, B. (1989), 'Maori Bilingual education and language revitalisation', J. Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 10, 2, 89-106

Spolsky, B. (1989), Conditions for Second Language Learning, OUP

Language Comparisons: The Top Ten

A country without a language is a country without a soul - Patrick Pearse

  language speakers  (mills) multi-state  languages


1 Chinese


English 43 English Swedish
2 English 350 French 28 Russian Danish
3 Spanish 250 Spanish 21 Chinese Norweg-
4 Hindi 200 Arabic 18 Arabic German
5 Arabic 150


7 German Dutch
6 Bengali 150 German 5 French Icelandic
7 Russian 150 Malay 5 Spanish Japanese
8 Portu-
135 Italian 3 Japanese Finnish
9 Japanese 120 Dutch 3 Vietnam Czech
10 German 100 Chinese 3 Italian  Italian

Questionnaire on internal uses of L2
(paper available on web)

1. Self-Organisational

2. Mental tasks

3. Memory tasks

4. Unconscious uses

5. Emotional effects

6. Non-communicative uses

7. Praying

8. Personal Receptive

9. Social

I am standing for peace and non-violence…
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding…
To much going for fashion and foreign thing.
(Ezekiel, Nissim, Twenty-One Indo-Anglian Poems
V.K. Gokak (ed.), Madras

L’accent du pays ou l’on est ne demeure dans l’esprit et dans le coeur comme dans le langage  
Rochefoucauld, 1678

'We do not for example say that the person has a perfect knowledge of some language L similar to English but still different from it. What we say is that the child or foreigner has a 'partial knowledge of English' or is 'on his or her way' towards acquiring knowledge of English, and if they reach this goal, they will then know English' (Chomsky, 1986, p.16)

So my answer to the question: Can an African ever learn English well enough to be able to use it effectively in creative writing? Is certainly yes. If on the other hand you ask: Can he ever learn to use it as a native speaker? I should say. I hope not. It is neither necessary nor desirable for him to be able to do so. The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use. The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry out his peculiar experience. (Achebe, Chinua 1965, 'English and the African writer', Transition, 18, 27-30