Multilingual comprehension is about being able to understand a language if you naturally speak one that is similar.
For example, Dutch and German derive from similar origins, Italian and Spanish share much comparable grammar, and speakers of many other European languages find they can be part of a multilingual conversation, conversing in their own languages, and still be largely understood.
The aim is to enable as many Europeans as possible to understand each other and to interact using their own language. Communication as a whole will be greatly enhanced across Europe if more people attempt to understand one another’s language.
Europe has three main language groups - Romance, Slavic and Germanic - from which the vast majority of European languages derive. With so many languages being related, either historically or geographically, there are obvious linguistic synergies, which can be exploited to make the first steps for any potential student a great deal easier.
Often, the prospect of learning a new foreign language can be daunting, but by demonstrating the relative ease in mutual comprehension, hesitant students can more readily be persuaded to take the first step. This is significant, as fluent understanding often leads towards fluent speech. Multilingual comprehension is also a good way of supporting less-used languages and their teaching in school.
EuroCom offers a realistic method to enable Europeans to achieve multilingualism. Eurocom’s research has shown that, if a student has a sound written and reading competence in their own language and just one other, they can rapidly understand the news or technical texts in all other related languages.
Galanet provides an Internet distance-learning platform for French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish speakers to enable them to communicate with speakers of other languages from the Romance family.
SIGURD aims to increase awareness of the linguistic similarities between the various Germanic languages in Europe. The SIGURD Portal contains a collection of common fairy tales - offering hypertexted translations into five Germanic languages - as a way of demonstrating to students the similarities between their mother tongues and other Germanic languages.
Slavic Networking promotes the multilingual learning of Slavic languages among native speakers of Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, Slovak and Slovene, and among people whose mother tongue is not a Slavic language but who are interested in Slavic countries.