The Language Worldview Formation Through Learning Several Foreign Languages


This article studies the issue of intercultural communication in a multicultural world. The main research questions are the role of multilingualism as an important mechanism for resolving intercultural conflicts in the context of identity problems, overcoming intercultural barriers, cultural gaps, the need to increase the cultural level and linguistic tolerance. Multilingualism presents a means of creating variants of the potential personal identity in the context of transculture. It is analyzed the lingua didactic aspect of the language worldview formation of the students at school and university that study the second and the third foreign languages. Multilingualism is a complex psycholinguistic phenomenon. It is considered in close connection with the concepts of linguistic consciousness, linguistic personality, since language is a way of thinking and a means of communication, and represents a worldview of an ethnos and linguistic personality. It is concluded that a linguistic personality who speaks several languages is a phenomenon characterized by the interaction in the linguistic consciousness of a person of sociolinguistic forms and norms of different cultural and socio-political characteristics. These are the linguistic categories of the native language, learned naturally and the categories from foreign languages, learned a second time. The possibility of forming a foreign-languages worldview determines the advisability of studying native and foreign languages in close connection with culture. The obtained results determine that students combine in their linguistic consciousness several language worldviews, which they possess approximately equally.

Keywords: Foreign language teachingintercultural communicationlanguage worldviewplurilingualism


The competency-based approach in education makes rather high demands in the field of foreign language teaching at all its stages. At the same time, it leads to the identification of criteria in assessing the quality of linguistic education. The development of intercultural competence is the essential characteristics that determine the portrait of a graduate of a school or university. By this term, we understand the need to recognize and respect the national specifics of foreign language culture, the possession of ethical and moral norms of behaviour accepted in international society, the ability to overcome the influence of national stereotypes and carry out intercultural dialogue in general and professional areas of communication, following the norms of lexical equivalence, grammar, syntactic and stylistic rules of a foreign language.

The comprehension of these criteria leads to the understanding that mastering such competencies is impossible without the formation of a foreign language worldview in students' consciousness. The gradual mastering of a foreign language worldview turns out to be a necessary part of the formation of secondary school students and university students.

On the one hand, language is a unique attribute of an ethnos; on the other hand, it simultaneously realizes its primary uniting social function. It is evident that the world is heterogeneous and political, economic and cultural processes in different countries proceed unevenly, national languages are the main fastening link for the human communities formation in the space of diverse sociocultural realities.

Language is a unique phenomenon: it ensures the existence of society, but cannot function without it. The language's multifunctionality becomes a condition of its uniqueness: it realizes a communicative, thought-forming function, acts as a cognitive function, provides the accumulation of knowledge about the world and the translation of this knowledge in time and space, and also determines the dominants of a particular linguistic culture (Krasnykh, 2002), reflecting the entire cultural memory of an ethnic group.

It is the language that forms the linguistic identity of a person. The term was introduced by Karaulov (1987) and specified in the latest linguistic researches. There are identified the essential features of a linguistic personality: 1) possession of a system of linguistic means and the ability to use them in communication; 2) understanding the deep cultural meaning of concept words; 3) possession of cultural codes that are reflected in the national language; 4) knowledge and understanding of case-law texts "significant for a person in cognitive and emotional relations" (Karaulov, 1987, p. 41); 5) an adequate choice of concept words and phenomena in the particular communicative act; 6) the correct interpretation of linguocultural information in any text.

However, all these signs are applicable, first, to a linguistic person who speaks one native language. The logical question is about the signs of a linguistic person who speaks several foreign languages, which, according to scientists, should have the same skills, but concerning the studied languages.

The study of the question of learning several foreign languages led us to the conclusion that, despite the close researchers' attention in the field of linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and other areas of scientific knowledge, the problems of multilingualism and multiculturalism are not well understood. Of great interest are questions about the role of multilingualism for an individual. Moreover, there is no solution to the problem of the language worldview formation in lingua-didactical coverage.

There is also no consensus in matters of the language policy of particular countries. For example, in China, there are numerous dialects, some of them, due to great differences, are considered by linguists as separate languages. At the same time, the linguistic policy of the country seeks to unify the Chinese language based on the Beijing dialect. Dialects are often considered as a contravention of the literary norm (Mogilevich & Kalinkin, 2017). On the contrary, the Council of Europe has developed an approach to multilingualism (plurilingualism), aimed at the formation of "communicative competence", based not on the mastery of one or more languages taken in isolation, but overall language experience of the individual, where all languages are interconnected and interact. In the framework of the European Union, multilingualism is considered as proficiency in at least two European Union languages, except the native language (Crystal, 2011).

Problem Statement

This study examines the issues of learning the second and the third foreign languages at school and university as a factor in the formation and development of students' language worldview. In the context of globalization and blurring between languages in modern society, it seems to us especially important to identify the characteristic features of the plurilingualism phenomenon in the process of intercultural communications.

Humanitarian education, in particular, foreign language teaching, form a linguistic and cultural experience that allows acting in different language environments, taking into account their cultural characteristics. It is rightly noted that:

modern linguistic education is designed to push the boundaries of the student's worldview and attitude, to introduce new foreign cultural details into his/her worldview. Deep knowledge of the foreign language world provides the background without which linguistic knowledge loses touch with objective reality (Oberemko et al., 2019, p. 199). We can say that a foreign language is a powerful basis for expanding the boundaries of students' knowledge about the world around them.

It is important to note that not all researchers have a similar opinion about the possibility of forming a language worldview based on the co-study of several foreign languages. Therefore, there is reason to believe that a lingual identity of a person who speaks two or more languages is not able to have the same worldview as a native speaker: associations and the metaphorical base of a second, non-native language, as well as their reproduction to create new ones, will remain unavailable to such a person.

There is also an opposite point of view, according to which the language skills in the second and the third foreign language, concerning the native language, relies on penetration into the language worldview of this language. Language skills are based on the assimilation of the language worldview of people speaking different languages when students learn the possibilities of a second/third language simultaneously with the material and spiritual culture of ethnic groups – carriers of these languages. Such development is fraught with specific difficulties, the basis of which is the difference in the language worldview of representatives of different linguistic cultures. We note in this regard that people who speak different languages have a different perception of the world. This idea retains its debatability, mainly because the concept of a language worldview requires its clear concretization.

Research Questions

In the framework of thepresent research, the following issues are resolved:

Firstly, what is the role of multilingualism in modern society and what is the social order for schools and universities graduates who speak two / three foreign languages?

Secondly, what is the specificity of the methodological system for the language worldview formation of students in the second and the third foreign languages mastering, and what are the ways of mastering the foreign language worldview by highlighting the linguocultural specific elements in it?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the article is a justification for expanding the repertoire of the studied foreign languages at school and university to form students' multilingual worldview based on the co-learning of native and foreign worldviews, as a necessary quality for the implementation of students' intercultural competence.

Research Methods

This article presents the solving the problem of methods and ways of language worldview forming in the process of foreign language learning at school and university. The tasks set led to the application of mutually complementary research method in the study:

  • scientometric analysis of scientific sources, including scientific articles and dissertation studies on problems bordering on the problems of our research;

  • comparative historical and pedagogical analysis of theories of intercultural oriented learning and intercultural communication, which allowed the identification of trends in foreign language teaching in order to form students' language worldview;

  • pedagogical modelling in the development of the pedagogical concept of research;

  • analysis of educational programs and standards, educational and methodological documentation and educational information governing the processes of foreign language education;

  • observation on pedagogical processes;

  • diagnostic (questionnaire, interviewing).


The issues of multilingualism and multiculturalism are not completely understood, despite the close attention of researchers in the field of linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and other areas of scientific knowledge. Of great interest is the role of multilingualism for an individual, a separate community, the state, as well as at the level of international relations.

Let us dwell on the definition of the term "multilingualism". The terms of Latin origin "multilingualism" and "bilingualism" are used in Russian scientific literature. The word "multilingualism" appeared in the 1940s in the Webster dictionary. The meaning of the term – "knowledge of several languages to the same level as monolingual people speak their language" – hashistorically expanded and clarified by many criteria. In particular, it is distinguished social multilingualism – whena specific social group speaks two or more languages, for example, in countries with several state languages, such as India, Canada, Belgium, or in the case of small peoples of Russia. There is also individual multilingualism when two and more languages are freely spoken by an individual (Mikhalchenko, 2006). For assessing the level of proficiency in other languages, it is used a scale where a zero level means a lack of ability to operate a given language, and a fifth level sets the degree of a highly educated native speaker of a given language.

There is balanced and unbalanced bilingualism or multilingualism. In the first case, a person speaks all languages equally freely; in the second case, the degree of other languages knowledge is lower than the level of knowledge of the first language. On the one hand, linguists speak about natural multilingualism, when the linguistic environment is characterized by multilingualism of a given community or a given society. On the other hand, they speak about selective multilingualism, when conditions for mastering languages are created in vitro (Smokotin, 2010). In the paradigm "one's own" / "foreign", it is distinguished an additive and subtractive multilingualism. Additive multilingualism is presented as positive; it implies the effective use of the language means of each of the acquired languages and cultures, and means maintaining a positive approach to the native culture and native language. Subtractive multilingualism leads to the replacement of the native language by a foreign language under the influence of a dominant culture and language, which as a result entails difficulties in functioning in the native culture and the native language (Smokotin, 2010).

Meanwhile, as the languages of small ethnic groups disappear, in many countries around the world, English is rapidly spreading in the status of lingua Franka as a means of international communication. There is such a linguistic phenomenon as the "englification", which is an adaptation of the rules of grammar, spelling and pronunciation to the English language (Akhmetshina, 2015). Researchers in the field of the French language note that English penetrates all spheres of the French language: economic, informational, sports (Shamsutdinova & Akhmetshina, 2016). The authors of numerous works related to the phenomenon of global culture operate on concepts such as global, global language and globalizing, global world. In modern literature, they increasingly use the concept of "post-globalization," although there is no need to talk about the completeness of globalization (Azimov & Schukin, 2009).

It must be emphasized that due to the contradiction between pluralism and monism, globalization and the desire to preserve cultural identity, interethnic tensions and conflicts may appear or exacerbate. In such circumstances, the idea of cultures dialogue becomes extremely important. In the aspect of the dialogue of the culture, many issues are studied. They are related to the sociocultural and language worldview, the issues of the formation of linguistic identity, and the education of intercultural competence. The cultures dialogue is 1) the form of existence of culture; 2) the communicative interaction of different ethnic cultures, leading to the interchange, enrichment of these cultures. Tarasov examines the dialogue of the culture from the perspective of psycholinguistics. According to him, any dialogue of cultures is a communication of different national conscious nesses carriers, an exchange of images of consciousness, however, the dialogue of cultures takes place only in the consciousness of the carrier of a particular culture, when the person encounters a different worldview and comprehends images of consciousness of carriers of a foreign culture during reflection (Tarasov, 1996). This idea is developed by Ter-Minasov, saying that within the framework of person's own culture it is created a false idea about the mentality, lifestyle as the only possible and acceptable worldview: "Strangely, the vast majority of people do not recognize themselves as a product of their culture ... Only going beyond the framework of their culture, that is, faced with a different worldview, attitude, etc., you can understand the specifics of their social consciousness, you can "see" the difference or conflict of cultures" (Ter-Minasova, 2007, p. 201).

Returning to the role of multilingualism in the formation of identity, one cannot but mention the approach of Epstein, namely the concept of transculture and the so-called "mosaic identity". Modern sociocultural reality makes a person hostage to many identities – corporate, social, religious, ethnic, state. Transculture is a model of cultural development that proclaims the right to freedom from attachment to different types of identity and one's own original culture. "We acquire transculture at the exit from our culture and at crossroads with other cultures" (Epstein, 2004, p. 625). Multilingualism in the context of transculture acts as a means of creating a space of variants of the potential identity of the individual. Multilingualism (natural or created) allows the person choosing consciously his/her cultural identity. A person becomes a "citizen of the world", ready for cooperation and dialogue, he/she can understand correctly the cultural phenomena of a "foreign" culture that he/she encounters. We can say that "the subject himself begins to construct a cultural halo around himself, a cultural situation, according to the language skills that he/she possesses" (Epstein, 2004, p. 627).

The concept of multilingualism is directly related to the concept of a language worldview, which has been widely used in the scientific and methodological literature of recent years. Without referring to the history of occurrence and the essence of the concept of "language worldview" that has been repeatedly described, we summarize the main theoretical ideas that are essential for the application of the concept in use in foreign language teaching:

  • language worldview is part of a general (conceptual) worldview (see, for example: (Kolshansky, 2005; Kubryakova, 1988). The linguistic worldview is considered by Kubryakova "as an important component of the general conceptual worldview in a person's head, i.e., the sum of ideas and knowledge about the world, integrated into a whole unit and helping a person in his further orientation in the perception and knowledge of the world" (Kubryakova, 1988, p. 151).

  • Language worldview is understood as "historically formed in the ordinary consciousness of a given lingua society and reflected in the language as a set of ideas about the world, a certain way of perceiving and structure of the world, conceptualizing reality" (Zaliznyak et al., 2005, p. 311). The presence of a "secondary, ideal world in the linguistic flesh" is, in the opinion of Kolshansky (2005), a prerequisite "for correlating the objective reality of the world, independent of human consciousness, and the ideal worldview as a product of human consciousness" (p. 19). The worldview imprinted in the language is a kind of intermediate link between objective reality and its reflection in human consciousness.

  • "Each natural language reflects a certain way of conceptualizing the world" (Apresyan, 1995, p. 38). Therefore, worldview, that is represented by different languages is in a state of partial overlap, including a universal segment and specific, diverging national-cultural and linguistic parts. They are associated with the existence of a kind of national conceptual sphere of native speakers and with peculiarities of the language's structure. Apresyan (1995) points out that these ways of conceptualizing reality through the language lead to the fact that "speakers of different languages can see the world a little differently, through the prism of their languages" (p. 41).

  • From the foreign language teaching methodology, language worldview is understood as "a generalized and dynamic linguistic and methodological concept, in the structure of which language conceptualization is reflected and the interpretation of knowledge about the world and which provides systematic assimilation of linguistic foreign-language knowledge in the process of linguistic education, the principles of their functioning and development in modern conditions of intensive intercultural communication" (Ushakov, 2007, p. 7).

  • The worldview is fixed through the whole complex of multilevel means of the corresponding language system. First of all, vocabulary, phraseology, grammar. Language worldview is a structured system. Its content is turned to the conceptual worldview. "The system of concepts is the central component in the structure of the linguistic worldview and reflects in it a conceptual worldview" (Smirnov, 2012, p. 104). On the other hand, the content of language worldview refers to the semantics of separated language means. However, it would be incorrect to reduce the image of the world fixed by the language to the sum of the values of the linguistic units. In the process of communication, the worldview "is modified by imagined implicit meanings" (Smirnov, 2012). The word acquires its real meaning only in connection with a certain context, and there can be an infinite number of such contexts (Losev, 1990). Therefore, the linguistic worldview is manifested in its entirety only with the language functioning, including, in addition to the codified content of linguistic units, the whole variety of contextual meanings and connotations.

  • A foreign language learning leads to the emergence of a second foreign language worldview in the student's mind (Ter-Minasova, 2007). The conceptual student's worldview, formed by the influence of the native language, is transformed as foreign language worldview during the foreign language learning, because "the assimilation of a new culture is associated with adaptation to another vision of the world" (Metelskaya, 2013, p. 305). Moreover, the basic worldview, formed by the influence of the native language worldview, "acts as a framework for the development of the second foreign language worldview" (Lysenko, 2010, p. 113). In the process of a foreign language learning and acquiring linguistic as well as lingua-cultural knowledge, both the assimilation of peculiar linguistic specific concepts from the field of a foreign language culture that absent in the conceptual sphere of native linguistic culture occurs, as well as semantic identification, the juxtaposition of similar concepts from a native and studied foreign language, enriching them with new meanings and lexical modifications (Smirnov, 2012).

  • A secondary foreign language worldview formation is associated with the need for "thinking restructuring, reshaping one's own, familiar, native worldview according to a strange, unusual model" (Smirnov, 2012, p. 108). It is one of the main difficulties in mastering a foreign language. The discrepancy between the language worldview of the native and the studied foreign language often leads to the problem of language interference.

  • These difficulties, however, are not an obstacle, since "the task of foreign language teaching is not to form a new consciousness that is completely identical to the consciousness of the speaker of the studied language but to enrich the consciousness due to the internationalization of the world outside its native society and familiarization with the image of linguistic consciousness carrier of another conceptual system of the world" (Glumova & Shimichev, 2017, p. 171).

To sum up, the formation of the foreign language worldview is a complex and multicomponent process of acquiring linguistic and sociocultural knowledge about the image of reality formed by means of a given language that is present in the collective consciousness of native speakers. Only by creating a secondary foreign language worldview, we can avoid the language interference that is treated as one of the main problems arising in foreign language learning. The desire to master the foreign language worldview prevents the mechanical correlation of foreign units and the concepts they display with the conceptual sphere of the native language and, conversely, contributes to the formation of new special linguistic and cultural concepts related to the peculiarity of the linguistic image of reality in the minds of the speakers of the studied foreign language.


The process of mastering foreign language worldview is not an easy task. The complex and multifaceted nature of this process requires the use of an integrated, multicomponent methodological system. It can be argued that the entire content of linguistic education is more or less aimed at creating a foreign language worldview in the students' consciousness. However, within each component of linguistic education, it is possible to distinguish individual components that directly affect the formation of foreign language worldview.

Thus, let us say that the process of acquiring multilingualism is a natural process in the modern multinational world since it is due to the need to maintain and establish a dialogue with representatives of other cultures. The cultures dialogue is a vital phenomenon because it contributes to the development of cultures through communication and interaction of cultures with each other, and it helps to understand the features and uniqueness of this culture.


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27 February 2021

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National interest, national identity, national security, public organizations, linguocultural identity, linguistic worldview

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Oberemko, O. G., Glumova, E. P., & Shimichev, A. S. (2021). The Language Worldview Formation Through Learning Several Foreign Languages. In & I. Savchenko (Ed.), National Interest, National Identity and National Security, vol 102. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 904-912). European Publisher.