Edited by Anthony Pym
[Language Problems and Language Planning 42:3] 2018
► pp. 267–287
Language choices and practices of migrants in Germany
An interview study
The language uses of twenty migrants in Germany who have English in their language repertoires are investigated through semi-structured interviews and qualitative content analysis. The findings suggest that in occupation-related situations and daily life, these migrants resort to English in situations that are too difficult to handle in German. For most of them this is only temporary, before they have a sufficient command of German. Whether and how well migrants learn German depends on factors such as the planned length of stay, the demand for the language in their professional field, previous migration experiences, and personality. Most of the interviewees had taken language classes and were highly motivated to learn German, as English is not always a viable option for communication in Germany and because they considered proficiency in German a sign of respect. The use of German and English as a lingua franca were the two major mediation strategies, along with language technologies like Google Translate, while some interviewees reported successful use of intercomprehension.