Whether in pursuit of a safer place to live, economic advancement or simply from a desire to travel, increasing numbers of professionals find themselves working outside familiar cultural settings and using a language in which they did not train. As a country of migration, Australia is home to many such transnationals. Despite high levels of proficiency in English, however, many find that communication at work can be something of a challenge, and that different perspectives on professional roles and identities as well as differences in pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic assumptions can become invisible barriers to success and progression. In this article I will draw on recent research into the demands of two different professions, childcare and medicine, to consider some of the issues faced by transnationals seeking to master not only the language but also the professional and community cultures underlying talk at work. I argue that language instruction programs designed to prepare new arrivals to enter the workforce should include explicit attention to cultural values based on empirical evidence in order to increase understanding of both how and why people talk the way they do in different working environments.
Bibliographical noteCopyright de Gruyter 2015. Article originally published in Multilingua, 34(6), pp. 773-795. The original article can be found at [http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/multi-2014-0063. 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.
- Cultural values
- English language teaching
- Interlanguage pragmatics
- Workplace language