In the recent documentation of the Council of Europe (e.g. the Common European Framework for languages), the notions and terms 'multilingualism' and 'plurilingualism' are distinguished in the following way:
multilingualism is the collective use of more than one language (at community level);
plurilingualism is the individual use of more than one language (at the individual level).
In brief, the orientation is to educate plurilingual individuals' in multilingual communities (Shopov, 2004). This has been the objective ever since the beginning of the Modern Languages Project of the COE in the early 1970s.
Three approaches have been developed since then: (a) Threshold Level Model, (b) Partial Competence Model and (c) Intercomprehension Model. The Intercomprehension Analysis Hypothesis claims that the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages can be made more effective if Intercomprehension proficiency is developed.
Competence in intercomprehension will be regarded as a realisation of the general human faculty for using and understanding language, which includes the ability to comprehend utterances and texts in "unknown" languages. Doye (2004).
This competence can be developed through learning and promoted by teaching. Here two definitions of intecomprehesion are presented:
(i) The ability to co-construct meaning in the context of the encounter of different languages and
(ii) to make pragmatic use of this in a concrete communicative situation.
The research questions are
1. Do communicators have the same difficulties in different cultures?
2. Do they use different intercomprehension strategies in in the context of the encounter of different languages?
3. Does intercomprehension strategy use training enhance language learning and teaching?