Linguistic Risk-Taking is an initiative in development for close to a decade and a research area in the CCERBAL portfolio. The goals of the Linguistic Risk-Taking Research Group are to:

  • support innovative pedagogical approaches to authentic and autonomous language learning;
  • generate and analyze research data related to linguistic risk-taking;
  • engage in various training and knowledge dissemination activities;
  • establish national and international partnerships with like-minded researchers and institutions who seek to promote bilingualism and multilingualism in various contexts; and
  • integrate interdisciplinary perspectives from applied linguistics, education, psychology, health sciences, and beyond.

The beginnings of the Linguistic Risk-Taking initiative

In 2013, Prof. Nikolay Slavkov, the man behind the app, was a new professor at OLBI, taking French language classes at the University’s Social Sciences Building to be able to teach in both official languages. Despite advancing in his language learning, he always ordered his French pastries in English during class breaks at the building coffee shop.

“I was too shy and anxious to even order my croissant in French,” says Slavkov, who understood that he was missing an opportunity. “I realized the disconnect between achieving some sort of high level in the classroom, but not applying it in real life. When we learn languages, we need to take risks. We need to overcome these stresses and anxieties and worries.” And as we do that, we also discover the fun of speaking a new language.

Slavkov notes that people worry about appearing less competent or vulnerable when speaking a second language. His Linguistic Passport app is the perfect risk-taking tool, with its 89 short, straightforward challenges that encourage language learners to practise in real-life settings.

The first edition of the Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport was published in 2017 to support leaners of French and English as a second language. Since then, several editions of the passport have been created as a result of the work of this research group and to support second language learners around the world!

New app makes language learning a game

In November 2022, the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) and CCERBAL celebrated a milestone in the development of the initiative with the official launch of Linguistic-Risk app, a digital version of the popular Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport.

The new Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport app can be downloaded by selected English as a Second Language (ESL) and French as a Second Language (FLS) students, as well as students in the uOGlobal program. Plans include one day opening the app up for users from all faculties.

For more information

Not registered to an ESL, FLS or uOGlobal cours?

What is a Linguistic Risk?

How to Participate

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