Language Education and Communication in the Workplace

Lionel Wee

in Language without Rights

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199737437
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199827107 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Language Education and Communication in the Workplace

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This chapter argues that any education system that gives emphasis to minority languages cannot at the same time ignore the need to provide access to a language of wider communication, such as English, since a key purpose of education includes preparing learners for the communicative demands they will encounter in the workplace. The chapter suggests that the notion of language rights, rationalized as the protection of an inherited ethnic identity, is not well placed to accommodate the task of helping learners navigate a changing and unpredictable workplace. With this in mind, The chapter goes on to examine three specific issues. The first has to do with the place of minority languages in language education, specifically ‘heritage education,’ since these have sometimes been criticized as obstacles to socioeconomic mobility. The second concerns the kind of language education that might best prepare learners for the workplace, since the workplace itself represents an increasingly changing and unpredictable environment. The third issue has to do with how the notion of language rights, understood as the protection of an inherited ethnic identity, compares with other kinds of rights, such as the right to decide for oneself what languages to learn, especially if these present opportunities for socioeconomic betterment.

Keywords: authenticity; commodification; consumption; English Language Teaching; heritage education; pastoral; workplace communication

Chapter.  8752 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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