Applied Linguistics @MQ: English in the meat works

By May 27, 2012News
Meat workers, Fletcher Abattoir (Source: SheepCRC)

The next seminar of the 2012 series of Applied Linguistics seminars at Macquarie University will be held on Tuesday, June 12:

English in the meat works

When: Tue, June 12, 12:00-1:00pm; Where: W5C 221

Presenter: Loy Lising, University of Sydney

Abstract: Public discourses and institutional language policies are often undergirded by the belief that Standard English proficiency is fundamental to migrants’ successful participation in the workplace, upward social movement in society and inclusion and belonging in the community.

This paper reports on a part of an ethnographic study conducted among Filipino skilled workers in Australia who are on a Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa, otherwise popularly known and referred to as the ‘457 visa’. The overall research aimed to document multilingual practices of Filipino skilled workers who are engaged in various Australian work spaces through an ethnographic approach (Heller, 2009). The findings, analysis and discussion in this presentation, are derived from on-site observation of and semi-structured interviews with six Filipino skilled workers employed in an export meat company situated in a small rural town in Queensland and two local residents. This presentation hopes to contribute to the larger discussion of the sociolinguistics of skilled migration and multilingualism. In particular, based on the data, I will problematize the language ideology outlined in the first paragraph above and proceed to argue that varieties of English and differential use of the participants’ L1 all play a crucial role in skilled migrants’ access to workplace communication, prospects for contract retention and sense of belonging in the community.


Heller, M. (2009). Doing Ethnography, The Blackwell Guide to Research Methods in Bilingualism and Multilingualism (eds L. Wei and M. G. Moyer), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK, pp. 249-262.