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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam

Second-language communication in workplace settings - the case of Polish migrants in Norway (NorPol)

Alternative title: Andrespråkskommunikasjon i arbeidslivet – om polske immigranter i Norge (NorPol)

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Language skills are often assumed to be crucial for success in working life. The NorPol project highlights the importance of language and communication for understanding inclusion and exclusion in professional settings. One of the central dimensions of our contemporary working life is the object of study: the communication involving speakers of Norwegian as their second language (L2). More specifically, we look into the case of Polish migrants in Norway. Being the largest migrant group in Norway, speaking a first language (L1) in many ways structurally different from Norwegian, Poles constitute an important case to gain better knowledge of the interplay between language skills and integration. The project sets out to investigate socio-cultural, interactional and linguistic factors that enhance or inhibit communication between Poles and Norwegians, by asking questions like: Which types of linguistic practices are especially challenging for Polish L2 speakers of Norwegian? What are the characteristics of Poles? L2 Norwegian when communicating, and how does this communicative style affect communication and social relations? To what extent do different stereotypes of Poles and Norwegians affect negotiations of legitimacy and agency in interaction? We also involve Norwegian L1 speakers by asking how they design their utterances in order to ascertain adequate comprehension in professional settings involving Poles. By providing knowledge of the factors that enhance or inhibit communication, with an emphasis on workplace interaction, the project is likely to have impact on policy and practice pertaining to inclusion, welfare and secure working life for all citizens. In 2020 the project has welcomed one PhD and one Postdoc fellow.

The population makeup of Norway is constantly changing due to migration. By scrutinizing and assessing the importance of language and communication for understanding inclusion and exclusion in professional settings, the NorPol project responds to societal challenges grounded in communication problems encountered by migrants. The goal is to generate beyond-state-of-the-art knowledge on one of the central dimensions of our contemporary working life: communication involving employees speaking Norwegian as their second language (L2), more specifically the case of Polish migrants. Being the largest migrant group in Norway, without official Norwegian language training, and speaking a first language in many ways structurally different from Norwegian, Poles constitute a highly relevant case to gain better understanding of the interplay between language skills, inclusion and welfare in professional settings. Communication challenges are most likely not only a result of linguistic differences, but also socio-cultural and attitudinal differences. Hence, the project adapts an ambitious multi-layered approach, including: a) a socio-cultural level of analysis, which focuses on cultural representations and their role in L2 communication; b) an interactional level of analysis, which focuses on the structural organization of L2 communication; and c) a linguistic level of analysis, which focuses on the lexical, grammatical and stylistic characteristics of L2 communication. Data will involve a triangulation of methods, including focus group interviews, audio- and video-recordings of naturally occurring interactions involving Polish users of Norwegian as a second language in and across professional settings, as well as personal narratives elicited as responses to media representations of stereotypical perceptions of Poles. The body of knowledge generated by NorPol is likely to have impact on policy and practice pertaining to inclusion, welfare and secure working life for all citizens.

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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam