Publication details [#63357]

Gorter, Durk, Jasone Cenoz and Karin van der Worp. 2017. From bilingualism to multilingualism in the workplace: the case of the Basque Autonomous Community. Language Policy 16 (4) : 407–432.
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Article in journal
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This paper debates the outcomes of an inquiry into the languages of the workplace of internationally operating companies. It tries to contribute to studies of multilingualism in the workplace by assuming a holistic approach that centers on divers languages and links the competences and attitudes of multilingual professionals to the repertoires employed and learned in the workplace and the broader social context. The inquiry is situated in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain, where the regional government has already evolved a strong bilingual language policy to foster the minority language Basque and recently also bolsters an internationalization of companies policy, including the use of other languages. The tensions deriving from the confrontation between these two policies are debated. Based on interviews with 25 informants in managerial positions, it was found that the default language of workplace communication is Spanish, there is restricted use of Basque and for foreign trade English is dominant, although Spanish is employed with Latin America. The language and cultural competence of professionals is lagging behind and should be further evolved, although the younger generation has a better command of English. The broader social context has an important impact on the language practices inside the company. Multilingualism plays an important role in Basque companies that act internationally, but the companies still have to conquer important language barriers. This inquiry validates that language practices and language learning experiences are intricate and emphasizes the need for a holistic approach that covers the repertoire of languages employed in the workplace.