Multicultural & Intercultural

Essay by khushtri August 2009

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IntroductionWithin the metropolitan world this dynamic flow of people contains potential for the development of a laissez faire cosmopolitanism in which the adoption of a multilingual repertoire suited to specific contexts and purposes plays a central role in shaping the concept of the global ‘citizen’. Within a commodified leisure culture multilingualism represents a strategic lifestyle choice for the unbounded global tourist. For multi-skilled international ‘core’ workers, being multilingual in the languages of trade, industry and business is seen as a necessary pre-requisite to successful competition within the ever-shifting markets globally. This means that although they may rely on English as lingua franca for interaction within the international terrain, ‘core’ workers also need to have a working knowledge of local languages, appropriate discourse styles as well as an informed cultural knowledge base to facilitate effective intercultural communication. (Rassool 2000, p386-98)Multilingualism located within this organic global context clearly represents important cultural capital, that is to say, the range of linguistic skills, discourse styles, and discursive knowledge’s that people must have in order to function effectively as workers and consumers within the global cultural economy.

These factors support the view that language lies at the heart of the technological development paradigm. In the absence of policies in education to support the maintenance of ethnic minority languages, there is a series of questions to be answered related to levels of language maintenance and identity formation amongst pupils from ethnic minority groups.

For example, within an educational context that does not support the maintenance of ethnic minority languages, why do some children from transmigratory groups and not others maintain their first languages? What are the structures in school, culture and society that have enabled this to take place? What has been the impact on the shaping of pupils’ cultural identity? What value do they attach...