Our last chosen workplace to investigate is the University of New South Wales library, located in Kensington. UNSW has a student population of over 50’000 students. 25% of these students are international, whom speak a variety of languages other than English. I chose the UNSW library as a workplace to investigate in order to explore how the library employees interact with such a culturally and linguistically diverse population. I chose to interview the Help Zone staff as my selected library employees. I conducted two interviews on two seperate weeks. Because the Help Zone staff were standing in close proximity to each other during the times I spoke to them, each interview was addressed to more than one person. The first time I interviewed three staff members as a group as it was early in the day. The second time I interviewed two staff members but one was called away halfway during the interview as the library was getting busier.
Observations & Interview Summary:
The Help Zone staff members heard many students speak in languages that were foreign to them (three only spoke English, one spoke Korean, Mandarin & Cantonese and one spoke basic French). None of the staff members felt any discomfort over hearing foreign languages around them nor did they think it was in appropriate for people to speak languages other than English in the library. The staff members stated that they are spoken to in English by students who seek their help or are approached in English and then switch over to another language once a common one is established. One thing I observed was that the staff always tried to reply in English. Perhaps this is due to the library being part of research institute (where research is conducted in English) or because it is a place of academic resources published mainly in English. All signs, posters, directions and numbers posted in the library are in English. Non of the staff members I interviewed believe in a monolingual ideology, they chose to speak English to students as a way of trying to help them become more comfortable using English as Australia is predominantly an English speaking country. Perhaps staff employed at other libraries would have very different opinions on the subject of language diversity and monolingual ideology in the workplace, however as mentioned before, a quarter of the student population at the university speak a language other than English. Thus the UNSW staff would have had ample amounts of time to become used to the diverse linguistic atmosphere in their workplace.