What is intercomprehension?
In general, intercomprehension is defined as the ability to communicate in a group of languages that have a common origin by understanding, through processes of inference and transfer, a language that was not formally learned.
Intercomprehension is based primarily on linguistic affinities. Each of the three major European language groups – the Romance, Slavic and Germanic language families – share many similarities. This means: If you know one language, you already know a lot about the other members of this language family. Not only does this apply to similar vocabulary, but also to the functioning of the languages, e.g. with regard to sentence structure, grammar, etc.
A further distinction is made between receptive and interactional intercomprehension competence, depending on whether it is 'only' about understanding or 'also' about actively communicating with speakers of other languages. In both cases, linguistic or language-related as well as cognitive skills and knowledge are at the centre; understanding is the indispensable core of intercomprehension competence.
Intercomprehension contributes to developing and fostering
- learner autonomy
- language awareness
- learning strategies and techniques
- reading strategies and techniques
- optimised deduction techniques for understanding texts
- the use of transfer resources.