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1 Language learning, multilingualism and social inclusion Ingrid Piller Zayed University, UAE and Macquarie University, AUS

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Presentation on theme: "1 Language learning, multilingualism and social inclusion Ingrid Piller Zayed University, UAE and Macquarie University, AUS"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Language learning, multilingualism and social inclusion Ingrid Piller Zayed University, UAE and Macquarie University, AUS ingrid.piller@zu.ac.ae

2 2 Australians at Work: Hien Trans story Source: http://dl.screenaustralia.gov.au/module/331/http://dl.screenaustralia.gov.au/module/331/

3 3 Outline 1.The Social Inclusion agenda 2.Language and social exclusion: Early developments 3.Language proficiency and social exclusion: Australian case-study 1.English proficiency and access to the primary labor market 2.Misrecognition of labor market segregation as language and culture-related 4.Implications for the field

4 4 Outline 1.The Social Inclusion agenda 2.Language and social exclusion: Early developments 3.Language proficiency and social exclusion: Australian case-study 1.English proficiency and access to the primary labor market 2.Misrecognition of labor market segregation as language and culture-related 4.Implications for the field

5 5 What is Social Exclusion? 1.a long and healthy life as measured by life expectancy 2.access to knowledge as measured by the adult literacy rate and gross enrolment ratio in primary, secondary and tertiary education 3.a decent standard of living as measured by GDP (Source: Human Development Indices: A statistical update 2008 (2008). New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

6 6 Outline 1.The Social Inclusion agenda 2.Language and social exclusion: Early developments 3.Language proficiency and social exclusion: Australian case-study 1.English proficiency and access to the primary labor market 2.Misrecognition of labor market segregation as language and culture-related 4.Implications for the field

7 7 Early developments Bilingualism as an obstacle to social inclusion The monolingual bias of institutions produces social exclusion Proficiency in the language of the destination country is the most important predictor of immigrant earning potential

8 8 Outline 1.The Social Inclusion agenda 2.Language and social exclusion: Early developments 3.Language proficiency and social exclusion: Australian case-study 1.English proficiency and access to the primary labor market 2.Misrecognition of labor market segregation as language and culture-related 4.Implications for the field

9 9 English spoken very well English spoken well English not spoken well English not spoken Employed802,000743,000274,000*28,000 Unemployed60,00071,00014,000**8,000 Not in the labour force 209,000387,000376,000113,000 Unemployment rate 7.08.7**4.9**23.1 Participation rate 80.567.843.4**24.2 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007), Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Recent Migrants. November 2007, p. 31

10 10 [T]hose from non- English speaking backgrounds struggle to find gainful employment within Australia and are often underemployed, even when they have relative proficiency in the language [...]. (p. 21f.)

11 11 NESB employees with degrees and post- graduate qualifications also receive 8% and 14% lower pay respectively than similarly qualified Australian- born employees […]. (p. 29)

12 12 The language barrier seems to be the single most important reason: the original obstacle that hampers all aspects of social inclusion. (Colic- Peisker, 2005, p. 632)

13 13 I have tried to apply for many jobs in that field of fitter and turner but the requirements are with the English. They have to be like high standard of English…and this is the difficulty I have had in the past. Ive been to (over 20) interviews with different companies regarding a job but I havent been successful and I think the main problem would have been the English. (p. 29)

14 14 Fitter and turner: job specification Duties: A mechanical engineering tradesperson may perform the following tasks: examine detailed drawings or specifications to find out job, material and equipment requirements set up and adjust metalworking machines and equipment operate machines to produce parts or tools by turning, boring, milling, planing, shaping, slotting, grinding or drilling metal stock or components fit and assemble metal parts, tools or sub-assemblies, including welding or brazing parts cut, thread, bend and install hydraulic and pneumatic pipes and lines dismantle faulty tools and assemblies and repair or replace defective parts set up and/or operate hand and machine tools, welding equipment or computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines check accuracy and quality of finished parts, tools or sub-assemblies. (Source: http://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/)

15 15 Fitter and turner: job specification Personal requirements: enjoy technical work physically fit good hand-eye coordination able to work as part of a team able to work independently practical ability attention to detail normal hearing no skin allergies (Source: http://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/)

16 16 (Source: Booth, A., Leigh, A., & Varganova, E. (2009). Does Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Vary Across Minority Groups? Evidence From Three Experiments. Australian Policy Online. Retrieved from http://apo.org.au/node/17347)

17 17 (2006)

18 18 (2006)

19 19 The argument so far Lack of linguistic proficiency is an obvious obstacle to social inclusion, which the Australian state tries to overcome –Provision of language training in the AMEP –Multilingual provision Linguistic discrimination has become a substitute for White racism (see also Hill 2008) Linguistic discrimination reinforces labor market segmentation

20 20 Occupational segregation of NESB migrants In this context, racism is not simply an irrational prejudice, but a basis for rational, economically advantageous behaviour of employers: it keeps certain marked groups out of the mainstream labour market and good jobs and thus ensures that undesirable job vacancies are filled. (Colic-Peisker & Tilbury, 2006: 221)

21 21

22 22 Misrecognition of language and culture [T]he current allocation of certain ethnic groups and immigrant categories in certain industries and types of jobs in the secondary labour market does not necessarily reflect their specific skills or levels of human capital, but rather reflects […] structural marginalization and disadvantage. (Colic-Peisker & Tilbury, 2006: 222)

23 23 Australians at Work: Hien Trans story Source: http://dl.screenaustralia.gov.au/module/331/http://dl.screenaustralia.gov.au/module/331/

24 24 Outline 1.The Social Inclusion agenda 2.Language and social exclusion: Early developments 3.Language proficiency and social exclusion: Australian case-study 1.English proficiency and access to the primary labor market 2.Misrecognition of labor market segregation as language and culture-related 4.Implications for the field

25 25 Are we asking the wrong questions? Or: when (linguistics) research becomes another instance of banal nationalism

26 26 To speak of the language, without further specification, as linguists do, is tacitly to accept the official definition of the official language of a political unit. (Bourdieu 1991: 45)

27 27

28 28 Linguistic and cultural ways of seeing diversity Render people and their differential linguistic capital invisible Render inequalities, discrimination and socio- economic exclusion invisible

29 29 When all you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like nails (Mark Twain)

30 30 One of the most important challenges facing modern societies, and at the same time one of our most significant opportunities, is the increase in ethnic and social heterogeneity in virtually all advanced countries. The most certain prediction that we can make about almost any modern society is that it will be more diverse a generation from now than it is today. (Putnam 2007: 137)

31 31 Language learning, multilingualism and social inclusion Ingrid Piller Zayed University, UAE and Macquarie University, AUS ingrid.piller@zu.ac.ae


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