Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.505
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.716

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 2018, Issue 254


Who speaks what language to whom and when – rethinking language use in the context of European Schools

Marie Rydenvald
Published Online: 2018-09-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0034


European Schools provide a multilingual international education for children of EU employees. However, despite the multilingual context of these schools, little research has been done regarding students’ multilingualism. Employing domain theory and a dynamic perspective on multilingualism, this sociolinguistic study investigates language use and language choice of secondary school students attending a European School in Belgium. The study comprises 56 participants and three different sources of data, i.e. questionnaire, self-recordings, and interviews, during a period of 3½ years. Nexus analysis is used as an analytical tool. The results suggest that the situations of language choice which the participants constantly face appear to be influenced by a taken-for-granted, rational multilingual context, manifested in the principles of inclusion and “the least common denominator”. These principles imply that students choose language based on a combination of their own, and their interlocutors’ preferences. The principles are discussed in the light of the multilingual environment of the European Schools. In addition, the results show a discrepancy between the reported results from the questionnaire and the face-to-face interaction in the self-recordings. The home domain is more multilingual than reported, and interaction with peers more monolingual. These results help to elucidate the heterogeneity of the students’ multilingualism, while discussing and problematizing domain theory.

Keywords: multilingual teenagers; language use; language choice; European Schools; nexus analysis


  • Aalberse, Suzanne, Jasone Cenoz, Vivian Cook, Kees de Boot, Rita Francheschini, Durk Gorter, Marilyn Martin Jones, Melissa Moyer, Pieter Muysken & Colin Williams. 2011. The radein initiative: Some directions in research on multilingualism. Radein Initiative. http://groupcien.uab.es/documents/Radein_initiative_v2.0.pdf. (accessed 1 December 2016).

  • Aronin, Larissa & David Singleton. 2012. Multilingualism. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Axelsson, Monica, Carin Rosander & Mariana Sellgren. 2005. Stärkta trådar – flerspråkiga barn och elever utvecklar språk, litteracitet och kunskap. Rinkeby: Språkforskningsinstitutet i Rinkeby.Google Scholar

  • Baetens Beardsmore, Hugo. 1979. Bilingual education for highly mobile children. Language Problems and Language Planning 3(3). 138–135.Google Scholar

  • Baetens Beardsmore, Hugo. 1993. The European School model. In Hugo Baetens Beardsmore (ed.), European models of bilingual education, 121–154. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Baetens Beardsmore, Hugo. 1995. The European School experience in multilingual education. In Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (ed.), Multilingualism for all, 21–68. Lisse: Sweets and Zeitlinger.Google Scholar

  • Baetens Beardsmore, Hugo. 2009. Bilingual education. factors and variables. In Ofelia García (ed.), Bilingual education in the twenty-first century. A global perspective, 137–158. Chichester: Wile-Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Baker, Colin. 2001. Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Baker, Colin & Sylvia Prys Jones. 2001. Encyclopaedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Bell, Allan. 1984. Language style as audience design. Language in Society 13. 145–204.Google Scholar

  • Bell, Allan. 2014. The guidebook of sociolinguistics. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Blåsjö, Mona. 2013. Att skriva avtal är att förutse problem” Medierad diskusanalys som metod för att studera bolagsjuristers textbruk. Sakprosa 5. Nr. 2 Art. 2.Google Scholar

  • Blommaert, Jan. 2012. Chronicles of complexity. Etnography, superdiversity and linguistic landscapes. Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies. Paper29. Tilburg: Tilburg University.Google Scholar

  • Blommaert, Jan & Ben Rampton. 2011. Language and Superdiversity. Diversities 13(2). 1–20.Google Scholar

  • Boyd, Sally. 1998. North Americans in the Nordic region: Elite bilinguals. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 133. 31–50.Google Scholar

  • Butler, Yuka G. & Kenji Hakuta. 2004. Bilingualism and second language acquisition. In Tej K. Bhatia & William C. Ritchi (eds.), The handbook of bilingualism, 114–144. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Carder, Maurice. 2007. Bilingualism in international schools: A model for enriching language education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Cenoz, Jasone & Ulrike Jessner. 2000. Introduction. In Jazone Cenoz & Ulrike Jessner (eds.), English in Europe. The acquisition of a third language, vii–xii. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Coulmas, Florian. 1981. Introduction: The concept of native speaker. In Florian Coulmas (ed.), A festschrift for native speaker, 1–25. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar

  • De Mejía, Anne-Marie. 2002. Power, prestige and bilingualism: International perspectives on elite bilingual education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Ecml. 2015. European Center for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe. http://ecml.at (accessed 8 November 2015).

  • Euresc. 2015. Scola Europaea. hhtp://www.euresc.org (accessed 27 October 2015).

  • Euresc. 2016. Policy on enrolment in the Brussels European Schools for the 2015–2016 school year. Downloaded 21.11.2016 from: http://www.euresc.eu/Documents/2015-01-D-73-fr-2.pdf (accessed 1 November 2016).

  • Firth, Alan & Johannes Wagner. 1997. On discourse, communication and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. Modern Language Journal 81(3). 286–300.Google Scholar

  • Fishman, Joshua A.. 1965. Who speaks what language to whom and when?. In Li Wei (ed.), The bilingualism reader 2007, 55–70. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Fishman, Joshua A. 1971. Bilingualism in the barrio. Bloomington: Indiana University.Google Scholar

  • Fishman, Joshua A. 1972a. The sociology of language: an interdisciplinary social science approach to language in society. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers.Google Scholar

  • Fishman, Joshua A. 1972b. Domains and the relationship between Micro- and Macrosociolinguistics. In John J. Gumperz & Dell Hymes (eds.), Directions in sociolinguistics. The ethnography of communication, 435–453. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar

  • Fought, Carmen. 2006. Language and ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Fraurud, Kari & Sally Boyd. 2011. The native – non-native speaker distinction and the diversity of linguistic profiles of young people in multilingual urban contexts in Sweden. In Roger Källström (ed.), Young urban Swedish: Variation and change in multilingual settings, 67–87. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia. 2009. Bilingual education in the twenty-first century. A global perspective. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia, Rakhmiel Peltz, Harold Schiffman & Gella Schweid Fishman. 2006. Language loyalty, continuity and change. Joshua A. Fishman’s contribution to international sociolinguistics. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • García, Ofelia & Li Wei. 2014. Translanguaging. Language, bilingualism and education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Giles, Howard, Anthony Mulac, James J. Bradac & Patricia Johnson. 1987. Communication yearbook 10, 13–48. New Brunswick, N.J.: International communication association.Google Scholar

  • Goffman, Erving. 1983. The interaction order: American Sociological Association. 1982 Presidential Address. American Sociological Review 48(1). 1–17.Google Scholar

  • Grosjean, François. 2001. The Bilingual’s Language Mode. In Nicol. Janet L. (ed.), One Mind, Two Languages. Bilingual Language Processing. Oxford: Blackwell, 1–22.Google Scholar

  • Hammarberg, Björn. 2010. The language of the multilingual: Some conceptual and terminological issues. IRAL 48. 91–114.Google Scholar

  • Hanell, Linnea & Blåsjö Mona. 2014. Diskurs i handling: Att studera människors handlingar med medierad diskursanalys. In A-M. Karlsson & H. Makkonen Craig (eds.), Analysing text AND talk/Att analysera texter OCH samtal. FUMS Rapport nr 233, 14–26. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet.Google Scholar

  • Harré, Rom, Fathali M. Moghaddam, Tracey Pikerton Cairnie, Daniel Rothbart & Steven R. Sabat. 2009. Recent advances in positioning theory. Theory and Psychology 19(1). 5–31.Google Scholar

  • Hayden, Mary. 2006. Introduction to international education. international schools and their communities. London: SAGE.Google Scholar

  • Hayden, Mary. 2012. Third culture kids: the global nomads of transnational spaces of learning. In Rachel Brooks, Alison Fuller & Johanna Waters (eds.), Changing spaces of education. New perspectives on the nature of learning, 59–77. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Hayden, Mary, Jack Levy & Jeff Thompson. 2007. Introduction. In Mary Hayden, Jack Levy & Jeff Thompson (eds.), The sage handbook of research in international education, 1–8. London: SAGE.Google Scholar

  • House, Juliane. 2003. English as a lingua franca: A threat to multilingualism. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(4). 556–578.Google Scholar

  • Housen, Alex. 2002. Processes and outcomes in the European Schools model of multilingual education. Bilingual Research Journal 26(1). 45–64.Google Scholar

  • Hyltenstam, Kenneth. 2004. Engelskan I Sverige. Språkval I utbildning, arbete och kulturliv. Stockholm: Norstedts.Google Scholar

  • Hyltenstam, Kenneth & Christopher Stroud. 1991. Språkbyte och språkbevarande. Om samiskan och andra minoritetsspråk. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar

  • Hymes, Dell. 1972. Models of the interaction of language and social life. In J. John J. Gumperz & Dell Hymes (eds.), Directions in sociolinguistics. The ethnography of communication, 35–71. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar

  • Jessner, Ulrike. 2008. A DST model of multilingualism and the role of metalinguistic awareness. The Modern Language Journal 92(2). 270–283.Google Scholar

  • Lambert, Wallace. 1977. The effects of bilingualism on the individual: Cognitive and sociocultural consequences. In PA. Hornby (ed.), Bilingualism: Psychological, social and educational implications, 15–27. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Leung, Constant, Roxy Harris & Ben Rampton. 1997. The idealised native speaker, reified ethnicities, and classroom realities. TESOL Quarterly 31(3). 543–576.Google Scholar

  • Matarese, Maureen T..2013. Beyond community: Networks of bilingual community support for languages other than English in New York City. In Ofelia Garcia, Zena Zacharia & Bahar Octu (eds.), Bilingual community education and multilingualism: Beyond Heritage Languages in a Global City, 291–308. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Mills, Jean. 2004. Mothers and mother tongue: Perspectives on self-construction by mothers of Pakistani Heritage. In Aneta Pavlenko & Adrian Blackledge (eds.), Negotiating of identities in multilingual contexts, 161–191. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar

  • Muller, Alexandra & Hugo Baetens Beardsmore. 2004. Multilingual Interaction in Plurilingual Classes – European School Practice. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilimgualism 7(1). 24–42.Google Scholar

  • Norris, Sigrid & Rodney H. Jones. 2005. Discourse in action: introducing mediated discourse analysis. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Ottosson. 2017. Personal email communication with Per-Olov Ottosson. Director of Education. The Swedish National Agency for Education. 20 January 2015.Google Scholar

  • Palviainen, Åsa & Sally Boyd. 2013. Unity in discourse, diversity in practice: The one person one language policy in bilingual families. In Mila Schwartz & Anna Verschik (eds.), Successful language family policy.: Parents, children and educators in interaction. Multilingual Education 7, 223–248. Dordrecht: Springer Science.Google Scholar

  • Paulston, Christina. 1978. Education in a bi/multilingual setting. International Review of Education 24(3). 309–328.Google Scholar

  • Pollock, David C. & Ruth E. Van Reken. 2009. Third culture kids. The experience of growing up among worlds. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Rampton, M. B. H. 1990. Displacing the ‘native speaker’: expertise, affiliation, and inheritance. ELT Journal 44(2). S. 97–101. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Romaine, Suzanne. 1995. Bilingualism. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Rydenvald, Marie. 2015. Elite bilingualism? Language use among multilingual teenagers of Swedish background in European Schools and international schools in Europe. Journal of Research in International Education 14(3). 213–227.Google Scholar

  • Rydenvald, Marie. 2016. Familjens och skolans roll I utlandsboende svensktalande ungdomars flerspråkighet. Nordand – Nordisk tidskrift för andrespråksforskning 11(1). 87–118.Google Scholar

  • Scollon, Ron. 2001. Action and text: towards an integrated understanding of the place of text in social (inter)action, mediated discourse analysis and the problem of social action. In Ruth Wodak & Michael Meyer (eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis, 139–183. London: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar

  • Scollon, Ron & Suzie Wong Scollon. 2004. Nexus analysis and the emerging internet. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Seidlhofer, Barbara. 2011. Understanding English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. 1981. Tvåspråkighet. Lund: Liber Läromedel.Google Scholar

  • Swan, Desmond. 1996. A singular pluralism. The European Schools 1984–1994. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration.Google Scholar

  • Vertovec, Steven. 2007. Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(6). 1024–1054.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-25

Published in Print: 2018-10-25

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2018, Issue 254, Pages 71–101, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0034.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in