Domain: Workplace

Our group has chosen to study the domain of workplace in order to explore the linguistics landscape and scope of diversity. Within this study we aim to examine multicultural attitudes and how multiple languages function alongside the dominant language of the workplace.

Areas of interest include:

  • Monolingual attitudes
  • The impact of society language attitudes upon national and ethnic identity
  • How can different languages be functional
  • The value of multilingual knowledge.

Our study will be focused on four very different workplaces; a cafe, a Chinese restaurant, an office located in Sydney CBD and the UNSW library. It is our hope that this variety of workplaces will provide a good scope for our investigation and allow us to show how the workplace environment may influence inter-linguistic interactions.

Data Collection:

Our data collection methods consist of interviews, photographs, observation and desktop research. We have designed some interview questions to survey selected employees in our chosen workplaces. We intend for the interview to be approximately 10 minutes long. Below are the interview questions and points of interest we have come up with based on 9 main questions about the linguistic landscapes we will be investigating.

  1. What functions do various languages fulfil in your chosen domain?
  • Is there a dominant language at your workplace?
  • If you use or notice other people using languages other than the dominant language, are there certain situations or contexts or people with whom they would use those languages? Please describe these.
  1. Is the knowledge of languages useful?
  • Do you speak more than one language? If so, what are the languages?
  • Which of these languages do you use at work?
  • Are there times when you find your knowledge of languages other than the dominant language useful? If so, please describe them.
  • Do you ever encounter problems, or notice colleagues encountering problems due lack of knowledge of a specific language? If so please describe them.
  1. Are languages seen as a problem?
  • Do you think Australia has a national language?
  • How do you feel about people speaking different languages around you?
  • Do you think they should only speak English as that is what the majority opt Australians speak?
  • When do you think speaking a different language than the people around you cause a problem?
  • Why do you think this would be regarded as an issue?
  1. What attitudes are evident towards linguistic diversity?
  • Do you think people should learn different languages even if they do not plan on traveling abroad?
  • Do you think it would be useful to employ people from diverse linguistic backgrounds in the workplace?
  • How do you feel about having colleagues whose first language is not the same as yours?
  • What do you think the average Australian customer would feel upon hearing employees speak in a foreign language to theirs in a workplace?
  1. Is there evidence of a monolingual English ideology?
  • Do you find it uncomfortable when hearing a foreign language being spoken in your workplace? (Assuming this foreign language is not understood by you)
  • Have you ever observed someone else expressing such discomfort in your workplace? If so, could you please write down some of the remarks you have heard people use?
  • Why do you think some people dislike hearing other languages in your workplace?
  • Do you think only English should be used in the workplace? Why?
  1. Which languages dominate?
  • How many languages do you speak fluently? Please list them here:
  • Among these languages, which one(s) do you use at work?
  • Specifically,
  • in formal work situations? (e.g. meetings, conferences, interviews, presentations, communication with clients/customers etc.)
  • in casual work situations? (e.g. socialising with colleagues, conversations in the coffee lounge etc.)
  • Any extra comments? (Leave blank if there is none.)
  1.  What are the opportunities or factors that allow you to use these languages?
  1. What are some obstacles at work that might stop you from speaking or using a certain language?
  1. National and ethnic identity in conflict (supplementary questions, the asking of which is up to the judgement of the interviewer):
  • What would you consider to be your national identity? (I.e where are you from? With what nationality do you most strongly identify? Does the answer to this differ in different contexts? Ie at work, with friends, with strangers, at different times in your life  etc.)
  • What is your ethnic background?
  • Do you think language restrictions at work have an effect on your ethnic and/or national identity?