Multilingual language trainers as language workers: a discourse-ethnographic investigation

Elisabeth Barakos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines language trainers as language workers in an Austrian language education company. The study interrogates what the trainers’ discourses, ideologies and practices about the nature of their work are, and how these reside within the logic and discursive practices of their employer. A close analysis of interview, ethnographic and institutional data reveal that trainers get caught up between privileged and precarious working conditions. The findings emphasise that trainers identify shifting demands in language training that require them to act reflexively, empathetically and be able to connect the linguistic with the cultural and interpersonal. The results also suggest that the institutional discourse of the education company attempts an inclusive and emancipated diversity agenda but reproduces homogenous views of language, culture and the trainers’ work. This paper contributes to growing critical scholarship on the intersection of language, education and work in the globalised knowledge economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-200
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage and Intercultural Communication
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Language and Intercultural Communication on 21 Jun 2018, available online at:


  • Discourse
  • ethnography
  • ideology
  • intercultural communication
  • language work
  • linguistic diversity


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