Despite the increasing value of multilingualism in a globalised world, English-speaking countries such as Australia remain stubbornly monolingual. At the same time the benefits of speaking more than one language are regularly touted in public discourse. My research investigates how speakers of Australian English with a partner from a non-English-speaking background feel about their linguistic repertoires. Embarrassment, as in the example above from Keith (all names are pseudonyms), comes up a lot. So does inferiority. Because of their low proficiency in foreign languages (often as a consequence of their poor quality or limited language learning experiences in formal education) these participants feel they are bad language learners. This response seems to be one way of engaging with and mitigating their own privilege as native speakers of the powerful global language, English, compared to their partners who learned English as an additional language.
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- 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
- 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)