”You should be able to hold your presentations in both languages”: Multilingual literacies in the workplace. 25/6/2019

SEMINARI NEOPHON: Dimarts, 25 de juny a les 12 Sala Mercè Rodoreda Tibi3. ”You should be able to hold your presentations in both languages”: Multilingual literacies in the workplace

Keywords: multilingual literacies, multimodality, translanguaging, workplace


Professionals who work in global companies in Sweden are in their daily work expected to speak, read, and write in at least Swedish and English. By looking at texts from two companies, the paper will address the following questions:

  • How are different languages and other semiotic resources used in written texts?
  • What factors influence the choice and use of languages and other semiotic resources?

The data was collected by linguistic ethnographic methods, e.g. observation/shadowing and interviews, at two companies in the Stockholm area. The data of particular relevance here are written texts, e.g., emails, documents, notes and PowerPoint presentations. These texts are analyzed together with interview data where participants discuss their writing practices.

Theoretically the article builds on concepts such as multilingual literacies (Martin-Jones & Jones 2000) multimodality (Kress & Van Leeuwen 2006) and translanguaging (García & Li Wei 2014).

The results show that professionals decide which languages to write their texts in based on e.g. imagined readers and potential use of a text. An overall finding is that also when a text is monolingual, the practices around that text – e.g. the writing of the text, the notes to presentations – are often multilingual.

The data comes from the research project ‘Professional Communication and Digital Media’ (Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation, 2016-2019).


García, Ofelia & Li Wei. 2014. Translanguaging: Language, Bilingualism and Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kress, Gunther & Van Leeuwen, Theo. 2006. Reading images: the grammar of visual design. 2. ed. London: Routledge.

Martin-Jones, Marilyn & Kathryn Jones. 2000. Introduction: Multilingual literacies. In: M. Martin-Jones & K. Jones (eds.) Multilingual literacies: Reading and writing different worlds, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, p. 1-15.