Bilingualism in the Workplace

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Abstract

This article discusses occupational bilingualism from the perspective of speakers of other languages who need to acquire English to be able to work. Most of the data are drawn from information on the language-use patterns of recent immigrants, a group that has been the focus of much policy research, though the situation of workers from indigenous language minority groups and those involved in the border economy are also mentioned. Data on immigrants' job experiences show that the relevance of English skills to employment varies by geographical location, occupational sector, gender, and ethnic background. Three case studies of occupational language use—in a restaurant, in small retail businesses, and in hospitals—illustrate the job-specific nature of second-language skills in these settings. Evidence indicates that bilingualism, defined as the addition of some level of English to previous native-language skills, plays an active role in the American economy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-179
Number of pages21
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume511
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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