Kommunikations- und Sozialwissenschaften | Mehrsprachigkeit/Interkulturelle Kommunikation, Frankophonie
Prof. Dr. phil. Birgit Apfelbaum





Research Network (ReN) Multilingualism at the Workplace (2006-2009)


Prof. Dr Birgit Apfelbaum (Hochschule Harz, bapfelbaum@hs-harz.de / Dr Bernd Meyer (SFB Mehrsprachigkeit, Universität Hamburg, bernd.meyer@uni-hamburg.de)

Scope of this Research Network (ReN)

This ReN is intended to focus on different work situations, such as academic, medical and social work, public sector, NGO’s, or tourism, in which participants frequently have to make use of different languages to cooperate with external partners or clients. The use of different languages may occur in native-nonnative interaction, if and when interpreting/translating tasks are called for or a lingua franca is used. Our common research interest should be directed to questions such as how the social and linguistic organization of work is adapted to the necessity of using different languages and how multilingualism impinges on the communicative outcome of different types of discourse or genres. However, we should not be interested in translation/interpreting or lingua-franca-communication as such. Rather, we want to highlight different types of multilingualism in different places of work and in different institutional settings. As the area of (second) language learning and teaching is already an established field of research we will not look at multilingual communication in schools or classrooms. Participants of this ReN will make use of different approaches, be they informed by sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, or pragmatics, our goal being the investigation of authentic workplace communication as well as training methods designed to prepare learners for multilingual workplace communication.

Plan for ReN-activities for the upcoming three years

During the course of the first year (2006-2007) ReN participants are asked by the organizers to gather, pool and share information on their respective areas of research, with a special emphasis on research activities that will be presented at the AILA Congress in Essen in 2008. Short outlines should be made available by the end of 2006. Furthermore, we would like to have more participants joined our ReN, especially from outside Europe. For this purpose, we like to encourage all ReN participants to forward this document to scholars potentially interested, who in turn should get in touch with the ReN organizers.

During the course of the second year (2007-2008) our common goal is to present our work in progress within the framework of a symposium at the AILA world congress in Essen 2008. The discussion is intended to be focused on methodological questions and the scope of different research approaches taken, i.e. how ReN participants address these issues as far as their respective projects are concerned. Presentations on transfer / application of research results to training situations are also invited as well as presentations on original research on multilingual workplace communication.

During the course of the third year (2008-2009) we will aim for a joint publication based upon our AILA symposium, preferably a special issue published by one of the major journals of applied linguistics.

Last update: 07.11.2006



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