About Intercomprehension

Intercomprehension at sea and ashore

Intercomprehension between cognate languages is an age-old communication method between people who speak different languages. It is at the same time an innovative language learning method, very different from traditional ones. People who work at sea are in a very favourable position to practice intercomprehension and to learn with a small effort and with many positive side-effects.

Intercomprehension (IC) is a “natural” form of communication, based on mutual comprehension. Speakers of related languages, for example Scandinavian languages or Romance languages, can often understand one another. This natural ability may be transferred to the context of formal Language Learning in order to develop plurilingual comprehension skills in a quick and effective way.

Find out more about this exciting phenomenon:

Intercomprehension LINKS HERE

Passive language knowledge

In “Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment” (2008: 10), we can read: “The value of passive language knowledge should be further explored, and appropriate language learning methods enhanced to allow understanding and basic communication across different languages.” (Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions)

Understanding – not speaking

When learning languages through intercomprehension, it is of key importance to separate two linguistic competences: the comprehension (reading, listening) from the production (speaking, writing). It is the comprehension which is trained: to learn to understand a language, written or spoken, or several cognate languages (since they have more in common than what separates them). Not only the words, but also the syntax and many cultural references are common. This way several languages trained at the same time may explain each other and render a kind of “global competence” of approaching new languages.

Quick and transferable

This is a quick method – a couple of dozens of hours is enough to pick it up – and transferable as well: Once having learned to estimate somewhat accurately the meaning of samples of cognate languages, then the method can be applied on more distant languages, allowing at least partial understanding of them.

Learn how to learn languages

In the era of globalisation, many ask themselves if there is a real need to go over to a global language, which will marginalise all other languages, hence erasing the multiplicity of perspectives on our reality. Isn’t it better to provide an instrument that allows learning several languages step by step? To learn how to learn languages, that is the objective of intercomprehension: It is for tomorrow’s citizens of the world to witness the method’s usefulness, but no doubt also its necessity.

What, when, where, who, how and why?



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