Pennsylvania State University, USA
Working, Communicating, and Learning in the Transnational Workplace
In this presentation, I provide examples from my research with highly skilled migrants in English-dominant countries to demonstrate how they strategically use their local languages and English varieties in the transnational workplace. Such plurilingualism is possible because the global professional context is not homogeneous, constituting only native English speakers, even in traditionally English-dominant countries like UK, USA, or Australia. The global workplace is multinational and, therefore, plurilingual. There is evidence that even native English speakers in host communities are becoming comfortable with a linguistically plural workplace, prepared to negotiate different English dialects and diverse languages with their transnational colleagues. Such a practice goes against policy discourses that emphasize that skilled migrants must speak a single language (English) or a single variety of English (i.e., British or American English) for communicative and professional success. Skilled migrants seem to bring certain tacit skills that enable them to negotiate their difference effectively and resolve their identity conflicts. While the focus of policy makers in education, migration, and labor is on credentialized skills, we need to appreciate the tacit skills, dispositions, and values skilled migrants bring to the global workplace to facilitate language learning, knowledge circulation, and material development.