Throughout the duration of this project, we visited 6 different McDonalds branches in Kingsford, Town Hall, Bondi Junction, and Penrith.
At McDonalds, we found multiple functions of various languages. For fluent speakers of English, the function of the language was for ordering food and for social purposes. Interestingly, individuals who weren’t native speakers of English would often socialise using their native language. We also found that Kiosks were used by both native and non-native speakers of English. They were often utilized for convenience but people not confident with their level of English suggested that they tended to use the Kiosks to avoid having to speak in English.
The knowledge of language in our domain is advantageous but not essential. In places with high levels of linguistic diversity such as in the city area where there are lots of tourists, workers found speaking a second language useful for ease of communication with customers. This was also the case in multicultural areas such as Kingsford, which is frequented by many international students of UNSW.
At McDonalds, if staff weren’t able to communicate in certain languages it could cause mistakes and inconveniences, so employees generally preferred people within the domain to be able to speak English to avoid misunderstandings arising from language barriers. Languages other than English are tolerated within our domain, but linguistic diversity is not actively encouraged. This is evident by the lack of usage of other languages in the domain (signage, kiosks, wifi, menu, etc. are in English only).
People who spoke languages other than English (including minority and indigenous languages), often still chose to use their limited English as it was the dominant language used in the domain. We did however find instances of customers choosing to speak in their native language (i.e Chinese), when employees appear to be of Chinese descent or are in an area populated by a large Chinese community.
Based on our findings, we can suggest that in order to promote linguistic diversity in the domain, McDonald’s could provide a language selection feature on their kiosks and provide menus in other languages. Additionally, employees who can speak multiple languages could have this indicated on their uniform or name badge (such as by using flag symbols).
Throughout the project, we encountered some problems and challenges. Language use can sometimes be a sensitive subject for some people. With that said, when collecting data through interviews, we needed to make sure that we were considerate and culturally sensitive. In addition, the validity of our data was based on the honesty of the answers provided by the respondents or interviewees.
The information that we gathered were mostly qualitative and based on anecdotal evidence. Due to the small sample size, it would be difficult to draw the most accurate representation of language use in our domain. Further research is needed with a more comprehensive and controlled approach for more reliable and accurate data.