In most universities, English as a lingua franca (ELF) is used for international courses. To promote linguistic diversity and facilitate first language education, some universities have experimented with lingua receptiva (LaRa). However, it is not clear yet which mode is most effective. This study compared the effectiveness of LaRa and ELF in conversations between Dutch and German students. Eight pairs of students, each consisting of one native Dutch and one native German, solved four maze puzzles: two using ELF and two using LaRa. Conversations were videotaped and compared quantitatively and qualitatively, and participants completed a questionnaire about their proficiency in and attitude towards the languages used. Problem-solving effectiveness was significantly higher using ELF than using LaRa. However, participants were also more proficient in English than in the native language of their conversation partner. Analysis showed that it was this difference in proficiency and not the language mode that explained the higher effectiveness of ELF. Language attitude and previous exposure did not have a significant effect on effectiveness. The study shows that linguistic prior-knowledge is an important factor to take into account when choosing a multilingual communication constellation.
About the authors
Gerda J. Blees is lecturer at the School of Liberal Arts and the Department of Language, Literature and Communication of Utrecht University. She is interested in production, reception and interaction processes in multilingual conversation.
Willem M. Mak is researcher at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics and lecturer at the Department of Language, Literature and Communication of Utrecht University.
Jan D. ten Thije is researcher at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics and lecturer at the Department of Language, Literature and Communication of Utrecht University. He co-coordinated the Toolkit Project for Transnational Communication. His main fields of research concern institutional discourse in multicultural and international settings, receptive multilingualism, inclusive multilingualism, and Functional Pragmatics.
©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston