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Education for power: English language in the workplace

Developed countries around the world are increasingly competing for highly skilled, educated immigrants. A case in point is Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). The NZ Immigration Service actively encourages skilled migrants, and around the country there are numerous English language programmes focussing on English for employment. The dominant focus of these programmes is on migrants' acquisition of correct, appropriate language form, with some attention to intercultural communication. In the view of the authors, this focus is reductionist and provides inadequate preparation for communication in the workplace. This article considers ambiguity and power relations in positioning and interpreting migrant employees in the workplace. Two sets of data are drawn upon. First, a workplace ethnography in a 'migrant friendly' NZ engineering office reveals a management culture that exercises the power of the dominant Anglo-Saxon population to control and exclude a Japanese migrant engineer. Second, a published analysis of immigrant employees' interactions is revisited in order to interrogate the interpretation of workplace texts and underlying discourses of 'appropriate' workplace language. The analysis traces implications for both formal and informal education, and the discussion raises larger questions of social justice concerning migrants.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Hunter, J., & Cooke, D. (2014). Education for power: English language in the workplace. Power and Education, 6(3), 253–267. http://doi.org/10.2304/power.2014.6.3.253
Symposium Journals
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Power and Education. © Symposium Journals Ltd.