Linguistic Diversity and Social Inclusion in Australia
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


This paper explores the concept of social inclusion from the perspective of recent migrants, from language backgrounds other than English, at work in Australia. We adopt an understanding of social inclusion that acknowledges the importance of economic independence, while also considering migrants’ feelings of connectedness at work and their sense of belonging. Based on qualitative interviews with migrants collected two years apart, we explore the ways language and language practices can lead to feelings of inclusion or exclusion at work. The data suggests that migrants who felt included at work often had colleagues and/or bosses who actively supported and encouraged them in learning new skills, and made an effort to connect with them through small talk. In contrast, participants who felt excluded were unable to fully participate in work activities and/or workplace interaction because of limitations they or others placed upon them based on their English proficiency. We suggest that social inclusion, as it relates to employment, can also encompass different things for different people. For some, a sense of belonging is not promoted solely by having work or the ability to connect with colleagues, but also by obtaining employment of a type and level commensurate with their pre-migration status.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. AMES
    AMES (2011) Words to work: The experiences of people in the Adult Migrant English Program in Melbourne. Melbourne: AMES.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Angouri, J.
    (2012) Managing disagreement in problem solving meeting talk. Journal of Pragmatics, 44(12), 1565–1579. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2012.06.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.06.010 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bloch, A.
    (2000) Refugee settlement in Britain: The impact of policy on participation. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26(1), 75–88. doi: 10.1080/136918300115651
    https://doi.org/10.1080/136918300115651 [Google Scholar]
  4. Braun, V. , – Clarke, V.
    (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. doi: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
    https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa [Google Scholar]
  5. Butorac, D.
    (this volume). ‘Like a fish not in water’: How language and race mediate the social and economic inclusion of women migrants to Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Campbell, S. , & Roberts, C.
    (2007) Migration, ethnicity and competing discourses in the job interview: Synthesizing the institutional and personal. Discourse and Society, 18, 243–271. doi: 10.1177/0957926507075474
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926507075474 [Google Scholar]
  7. Chiswick, B. , Lee, Y. L. , & Miller, P.
    (2003) Patterns of immigrant occupational attainment in a longitudinal survey. International Migration, 41(4), 47–69. doi: 10.1111/1468‑2435.00252
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2435.00252 [Google Scholar]
  8. Clyne, M.
    (2005) Australia’s language potential. Sydney: UNSW Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Colic-Peisker, V.
    (2005) ‘At least you’re the right colour’: Identity and social inclusion of Bosnian refugees in Australia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31, 615–638. doi: 10.1080/13691830500109720
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13691830500109720 [Google Scholar]
  10. (2009) Visibility, settlement success and life satisfaction in three refugee communities in Australia. Ethnicities, 9(175), 175–200. doi: 10.1177/1468796809103459
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1468796809103459 [Google Scholar]
  11. Colic-Peisker, V. , & Tilbury, F.
    (2006) Employment niches for recent refugees: Segmented labour market in 21st-century Australia. Journal of Refugee Studies, 19, 203–229. doi: 10.1093/jrs/fej016
    https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fej016 [Google Scholar]
  12. Cools, C. A.
    (2006) Relational communication in intercultural couples. Language and Intercultural Communication, 6(3&4), 262–274. doi: 10.2167/laic253.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/laic253.0 [Google Scholar]
  13. Coupland, J.
    (2003) Small talk: Social functions. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 36(1), 1–6. doi: 10.1207/S15327973RLSI3601_1
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327973RLSI3601_1 [Google Scholar]
  14. Crisp, B. R.
    (2010) Belonging, connectedness and social inclusion. Journal of Social Inclusion, 1(2), 123–132.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)
    Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) (2011) The settlement journey. Strengthening Australia through migration. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Derwing, T. , Munro, M. , & Thomson, R.
    (2007) A longitudinal study of ESL learners’ fluency and comprehensibility development. Applied Linguistics, 29(3), 359–380. doi: 10.1093/applin/amm041
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amm041 [Google Scholar]
  17. Duff, P. A. , Wong, P. , & Early, M.
    (2000) Learning language for work and life: The linguistic socialization of immigrant Canadians seeking careers in healthcare. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 57(1), 9–57. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.57.1.9
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.57.1.9 [Google Scholar]
  18. Ho, C.
    (2009) Migration as feminisation? Chinese women’s experiences of work and family in Australia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(3), 497–514. doi: 10.1080/13691830600555053
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13691830600555053 [Google Scholar]
  19. Holmes, J.
    (2000) Talking English from 9 to 5: Challenges for ESL learners at work. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10(1), 125–140. doi: 10.1111/j.1473‑4192.2000.tb00143.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.2000.tb00143.x [Google Scholar]
  20. (2007) Making humour work: Creativity on the job. Applied Linguistics, 28(4), 518–537. doi: 10.1093/applin/amm048
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amm048 [Google Scholar]
  21. Holmes, J. , – Marra, M.
    (2002) Having a laugh at work: How humour contributes to workplace culture. Journal of Pragmatics, 34, 1683–1710. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00032‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00032-2 [Google Scholar]
  22. Holmes, J. , Marra, M. , Newton, J. , Joe, A. , Riddiford, N. , & Vine, B.
    (2009) Enhancing sociopragmatic skills among professional qualified workers. (Language in the Workplace Occasional Papers No.10). Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Holmes, J. , & Riddiford, N.
    (2011) From classroom to workplace: Tracking socio-pragmatic development. ELT Journal, 65(4), 376–386. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccq071
    https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccq071 [Google Scholar]
  24. Li, D.
    (2000) The pragmatics of making requests in the L2 workplace: A case study of language socialisation. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 57(1), 58–87. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.57.1.58
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.57.1.58 [Google Scholar]
  25. Louw, K. J. , Derwing, T. M. , & Abbott, M. L.
    (2010) Teaching pragmatics to L2 learners for the workplace: The job interview. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(5), 739–758. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.66.5.739
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.66.5.739 [Google Scholar]
  26. Malthus, C. , Holmes, J. , & Major, G.
    (2005) Completing the circle: Research based classroom practice with EAL nursing students. New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, 11(1), 65–89.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Musgrave, S. , & Bradshaw, J.
    (this volume). Language and social inclusion: Unexplored aspects of intercultural communication.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Piller, I. , – Takahashi, K.
    (2011) Linguistic diversity and social inclusion. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 14(4), 371–381. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2011.573062
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2011.573062 [Google Scholar]
  29. Richardson, S. , Stack, S. , Lester, L. , Healy, J. , Ilsley, D. , & Horrocks, J.
    (2004) The changing labour force experience of new migrants: Inter-wave comparisons for cohort 1 and 2 of the LSIA. Canberra: The National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Roberts, C.
    (2010) Language socialization in the workplace. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 30, 211–227. doi: 10.1017/S0267190510000127
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0267190510000127 [Google Scholar]
  31. Rogerson-Revell, P.
    (2007) Humour in business: A double-edged sword. A study of humour and style shifting in intercultural business meetings. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(1), 4–28. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.09.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.09.005 [Google Scholar]
  32. Syed, J. , & Murray, P.
    (2009) Combating the English language deficit: The labour market experiences of migrant women in Australia. Human Resource Management Journal, 19(4), 413–432. doi: 10.1111/j.1748‑8583.2009.00106.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-8583.2009.00106.x [Google Scholar]
  33. Thomas, D. R.
    (2006) A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27(2), 237–246. doi: 10.1177/1098214005283748
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214005283748 [Google Scholar]
  34. Valtonen, K.
    (2004) From the margin to the mainstream: Conceptualizing refugee settlement processes. Journal of Refugee Studies, 17, 70–96. doi: 10.1093/jrs/17.1.70
    https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/17.1.70 [Google Scholar]
  35. Vine, B.
    (2004) Getting things done at work: The discourse of power in workplace interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/pbns.124
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.124 [Google Scholar]
  36. Wigglesworth, G. , – Yates, L.
    (2007) Mitigating difficult requests in the workplace: What learners and teachers need to know. TESOL Quarterly, 41(4), 791–803. doi: 10.1002/j.1545‑7249.2007.tb00104.x
    https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1545-7249.2007.tb00104.x [Google Scholar]
  37. Yates, L.
    (2010) Language training and settlement success. Sydney: AMEP Research Centre, Macquarie University.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. (2011) Interaction, language learning and social inclusion in early settlement. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism14(4), 457–471. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2011.573068
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2011.573068 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): employment; language learning; migrants; workplace communication
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error