The CEFR distinguishes between plurilingualism and multilingualism. In the same way it distinguishes between multiculturalism and pluriculturalism. This distinction aims to facilitate understanding of two very different views of linguistic and cultural diversity. Multilingualism/multiculturalism considers languages and cultures as separate and somehow static entities that co-exist in societies or individuals.

Plurilingualism and pluriculturalism aim to capture the holistic nature of individual language users/learners linguistic and cultural repertoires. Learners/users are seen as social agents who draw upon all sorts of resources in their linguistic and cultural repertoires and further develop these resources in their trajectories. Plurilingualism/pluriculturalism stresses the dynamic use of multiple languages/varieties and cultural knowledge, awareness and/or experience in social situations.

Both plurilingualism and pluriculturalism focus on interconnectedness of different languages and cultures rather than on their differences and stress the importance of evolving profiles that value even the most partial competences in and awareness of languages and cultures.

Ideas for implementation


Watch Plurilingualism (2023: Council of Europe) (08:40)

Watch Plurilingualism/pluriculturalism and (language) education (2020: Enrica Piccardo) (16:05)

Watch CEFR Companion volume - Plurilingual/pluricultural competence (2018: Enrica Piccardo) (15:07)


Developing plurilingualism in the classroom: From reflection to action (CEFR Webinar Series 2021: Enrica Picccardo)

Engaging learners’ plurilingual and pluricultural competence: Online and face-to-face practice in secondary and tertiary language classrooms (CEFR Webinar Series 2021: Angelica Galante)

Putting plurilingual education into practice in primary and secondary schools (CEFR Webinar Series 2021: Joanna Durate)

Assessing plurilingualism: An example from practice (CEFR Online Workshop Series 2022: Belinda Steinhuber)


CEFR Companion volume - Section 2.3

Info sheet: Plurilingualism and pluriculturalism

Capitalising on, activating and developing plurilingual and pluricultural repertoires for better school integration (2010: Véronique Castellotti and Danièle Moore)

From linguistic diversity to plurilingual education (2007: Jean-Claude Beacco, Michael Byram)

Plurilingual and pluricultural competence (1997/2009: Daniel Coste et al.)

Multilingual societies, pluricultural people and the project of intercultural education (2009: Michael Byram)

Plurilingual and intercultural education as a project (2009: Marisa Cavalli, Daniel Coste, Alexandru Crişan and Piet-Hein van de Ven)


“We are all (potential) plurilinguals”: Plurilingualism as an overarching, holistic concept (2016: Enrica Piccardo)

From "promising controversies" to negotiated practices: A research synthesis of plurilingual pedagogy in global contexts (2022: Li Chen et al.)

Plurilingualism and multimodality: The metanoia within reach (2022: Riah Werner and Elka Todeva)

A rolling stone gathers no moss? The case of mature students in Higher Education and their plurilingual repertoires (2019: Susana Ambrósio et al.)

Plurilingualism in the new era: A conversation with Enrica Piccardo (2018: Yecid Ortega)