‘Double deficit’ and exclusion: mediated language ideologies and international students’ multilingualism

Agnes Bodis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


International students studying at Australian universities are largely represented in the media as problematic speakers of English, in part due to the dominance of the monolingual mindset as an approach to language. This paper focuses instead on international students’ multilingualism and examines the multimodal media representation of them as multilingual speakers. This study presents a thematic language ideological analysis of an episode of an Australian current affairs television program, Four Corners, and social media discussion of the episode and explores the way language ideologies work in the context. It shows that multilingual practices and speakers are stigmatized through the textual and multimodal representation of languages other than English (LOTE). Findings show that the multilingualism of international students and competencies available through LOTE are largely rendered invisible and students are constructed through a ‘double deficit’ view. They are thus not seen as multilingual speakers but deficient English speakers and this deficiency indexes other deficits. Where LOTE becomes visible, it is represented as a problem. The results also show that the social media discussions further amplify the language ideologies of the episode. The implications are considered for media representation and for universities to shift the focus to English language as a medium of instruction only and end ‘language blindness’ for improved social inclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-391
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright de Gruyter 2020. Article originally published in Multilingua, 40(3), pp. 367–391. The original article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2019-0106. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • media representation
  • international students
  • language ideologies
  • multilingualism
  • higher education in Australia


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