“Only this time in English”

Local language learning investment of multilingual migrant engineers


  • Nuranindia Endah Arum MultiLing - Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo


language learning, identity, investment, multilingual workplace, migrant workers


While English is widely used as the working language in multinational companies, local languages still play an important role in the workplace. This puts international employees in a difficult position, as they face pressure to become competent in the local language in addition to being proficient in English. This paper aims to shed light on the language learning experience of migrant engineers in Norway by exploring their investment (Darvin & Norton, 2015) in learning Norwegian and its interplay with their language learning trajectories. The analysis of the participants’ autobiographic narrative accounts (Pavlenko, 2007) shows that different workspaces lead to different ideologies at play and a shifting value of linguistic capital over time. The reported language practices in the workplace devalue the participants’ English language capital and create pressure for them to use Norwegian for work. Despite the participants’ investment in learning the local language(s), it does not always translate to a sense of belonging and career progression due to ideologies that marginalize these migrant employees, such as raciolinguistic ideologies (Alim et al., 2016). This study provides new insights into the lived experience of highly skilled professionals as learners of languages other than English in multinational companies.



2024-03-22 — Updated on 2024-06-10


How to Cite

Arum, N. E. (2024). “Only this time in English”: Local language learning investment of multilingual migrant engineers. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 18(1), 45–66. https://doi.org/10.47862/apples.127147 (Original work published March 22, 2024)