“Speak in English!”: Inventing ‘everyday’ language policies

by Karen Forbes

When we think about language policies we tend to think big. We might think of national mandates which determine the official language(s) of a country, or policies for education which specify the medium of instruction in state schools. While such policies will undoubtedly influence our experience of living, working or studying in a particular country, the language practices that each individual chooses to follow (or perhaps more controversially, chooses to impose on others) reflect much deeper ideologies. Recently I have come across several examples that have made me reflect on these ‘everyday language policies’ and particularly on what they might represent. Here are a few examples…

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Benefits or connections? Are we communicating the right message?

by Yongcan Liu

A few weeks ago, I was involved in writing a case study which forms part of a booklet for the MEITS project addressing some big issues in language learning. The theme that I was responsible for was ‘why do people learn languages?’. This is a question often asked by the general public and in policy making; it is also a very difficult one as the motivations for language learning are many, and very complex. I was hoping to find some straightforward answers in our research, but was struggling to distil a common message across the project, as our strands do not seem to directly address the question of motivation but tend to focus on a related issue on ‘the benefits of language learning’. As the title of the MEITS project indicates, the key message is that Multilingualism can Empower Individuals and Transform Societies and there are multiple benefits of language learning, be they social, cultural, cognitive, educational, economic or even health-related.

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