Language Policy and Planning in Multilingual Organisations: Exploring Language Regimes

On Monday 3 July some of the leading scholars in the field of LPP (Language Policy and Planning) who work across a range of disciplines (education; economics; linguistics; politics) came together for a one day symposium at Birkbeck, which was co-funded by BIH, on: Language Policy and Planning in Multilingual Organisations: Exploring Language Regimes

Organised by  Dr Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis from Birkbeck’s Department of Applied Linguistics and Communciation, and Dr Michele Gazzola (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), the symposium was timely given that current language regimes in some multilingual organisations no longer necessarily reflect the practices or needs of individuals who work within them or the people they are trying to reach.

While there is still comparatively limited research on LPP in organisations, studies on supranational organisations (e.g. the EU and UN) and public administration of multilingual states (e.g. Canada, Switzerland, Belgium) have shown that themes of power, politics and economics, inter alia, play into analyses of some multilingual contexts, with calls for changes to language policy often made to combat inequity, injustice and/or to assess the ‘cost’ (financial or otherwise) of maintaining more than one language.

Traditionally the field of language policy and planning (LPP) has focused on national concerns, however in recent years research has also focussed on community, family and organisational scenarios. It is recognised that we must move beyond a nationalist paradigm to accommodate the networks, structures and flows apparent in post-national societies and inter/transnational contexts. As we move into ever-increasing global connectedness many of us are now interwoven in professional and personal networks which transcend the nation (virtually and physically), leading to complex patterns of interaction and the emergence of fluid linguistic repertoires. We are also subject to multiple layers of governance and influenced by the burgeoning economic and political might of transnational corporations and supranational organisations, which far exceed the influence of our local communities or states. How issues are debated and decisions made within these organisations and whether or not we are given a voice is of importance to us all.

The symposium aimed to address four key areas:

  • the unique challenges faced by multilingual organisations working within different sectors (e.g. business; diplomacy; economics) and the challenges faced by researchers who work in these sites
  • methods to investigate and model language regimes
  • the identification and the evaluation of the socio-economic and political effects of alternative ways of managing multilingual communication adopted by public administrations and organisations (e.g. political representativeness, democratic participation, social exclusion)
  • the current priorities for LPP research and its impact on policy makers working in multilingual organisations.

View the full programme

You can listen to podcasts of the various papers, where available, on the links below:

The issues raised and discussions held on the day have shown that for further developments in the field of LPP and for academics to be able to inform policy makers, concerted interdisciplinary collaboration is needed – not least the combined efforts of linguists, economists and political scientists.

Read a blog post written before the event by the Co-Organiser, Dr Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis from Birkbeck’s Department of Applied Linguistics and Communciation on Policy and planning in organisations: why language matters.



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