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New speakers in a multilingual Europe


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Bernadette O'Rourke, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, August 2017

Published in: Education
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New speakers in a multilingual Europe

  1. 1. New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges Bernadette O’Rourke Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
  2. 2. High Level Group on Multilingualism • EU Member States have by now become multilingual and multicultural societies and require strategies at local, regional, and member State level for facilitating communication across language and cultural boundaries (EC 2007: 6)
  3. 3. Traditional foundations of linguistic nationalism
  4. 4. Defining “New speakers” • Multilingual individuals who adopt, acquire and to varying degrees use a language or languages other than their “native” language
  5. 5. Different profiles • minoritized languages – Irish, Galician, Basque, Welsh, Breton, Faroese
  6. 6. Indigenous minoritized languages Karl First language Serbian “new speaker” of Faroese
  7. 7. Different profiles • immigrants and transnational workers – Polish, Urdu, Yoruba, Chinese, Serbian etc. speakers of the language of the host country
  8. 8. Immigrant communities Dawid First language Polish moved to Ireland in 2004 “new speaker” of English
  9. 9. Speak English or lose benefits: Cameron to stop payouts to immigrants who use taxpayer-funded translators
  10. 10. Important questions... • What exactly does proficiency mean? • What counts as fluency? • Who decides this? • What are the consequences of these decisions?
  11. 11. • Computer woes: Irish vet fails oral English test in Australian visa bid (Irish Independent 8 August 2017
  12. 12. New speakers in the classroom
  13. 13. Monolingual workplaces • Speak English or you’re fired! Foreign workers banned from speaking their own language or told they face the sack (Daily Mail February 2014) – Workers at Hobbycraft warehouse in Burton ordered to only speak English – Manager says the move is intended to create a 'good working environment‘ – But unnamed Polish employee describes the rule as 'silly'
  14. 14. Language ideologies • Beliefs and feelings about language and speakers of certain languages or with certain accents • Not truths
  15. 15. Language and Access
  16. 16. New Speakers – New speakers as legitimate speakers? – Standard versus dialectal varieties? – Who has authority? – Who gets access to resources? – Who makes decisions? – Whose voice is heard? – Educational provision?