This paper explores the concept of social inclusion from the perspective of recent migrants, from language backgrounds other than English, at work in Australia. We adopt an understanding of social inclusion that acknowledges the importance of economic independence, while also considering migrants' feelings of connectedness at work and their sense of belonging. Based on qualitative interviews with migrants collected two years apart, we explore the ways language and language practices can lead to feelings of inclusion or exclusion at work. The data suggests that migrants who felt included at work often had colleagues and/or bosses who actively supported and encouraged them in learning new skills, and made an effort to connect with them through small talk. In contrast, participants who felt excluded were unable to fully participate in work activities and/or workplace interaction because of limitations they or others placed upon them based on their English proficiency. We suggest that social inclusion, as it relates to employment, can also encompass different things for different people. For some, a sense of belonging is not promoted solely by having work or the ability to connect with colleagues, but also by obtaining employment of a type and level commensurate with their pre-migration status.
- Language learning
- Workplace communication