Invited Talk by A/P Michał B. Paradowski on “The many faces of multilingualism: Myths, disputes, social norms, and the pandemic” | 16 Sep 2022, 12pm

A/P Michał B. Paradowski

The many faces of multilingualism: Myths, disputes, social norms, and the pandemic

16 September 2022 (Friday), 12pm



While multilingualism is a natural potential available to every normal human being, many of its complex mechanisms remain shrouded in mystery or myth. The talk will start off by dispelling the most frequent misconceptions and pernicious prejudices surrounding the notions of bi-/multilingualism and bilingual education. I will then move on to the benefits brought about by speaking two or more languages, in terms of both verbal and non-verbal abilities, as well as reasons underlying the lack of consensus in the current bilingual cognitive advantage debate. An attempt will also be made to connect the topic with the current geopolitical developments.

Two languages in the mind not only affect cognitive structure and functioning, but also have subtle—and sometimes non-trivial—influence on the speaker’s decisions. I will discuss how bilinguals’ language choices impact moral decision-making in a way that cannot be accounted for by merely invoking an emotion-based explanation.

Lastly, I will demonstrate how multilingualism moderated teachers’ and learners’ coping with the transition to emergency remote instruction during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, basing on survey data from nearly 9,000 respondents from 118 countries, revealing how proficiency in other languages seemed to confer more stability in both life and instruction.


Michał B. Paradowski is an associate professor at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw, a trainer of teachers and translators, and a language teaching and research consultant. His interests include second and third language acquisition research, bi- and multilingualism, psycholinguistics, embodied cognition, complexity science, and educational psychology. He has given over 200 invited lectures, seminars and workshops in Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

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