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 (Irvine and Gal, Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities, 35–84. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 2000). 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.
- media representation
- international students
- language ideologies
- higher education in Australia