Wednesday Seminar: Lived language learning experience of an Indonesian engineer in a Norwegian multinational oil company

Nuranindia Endah Arum (Doctoral Research Fellow at MultiLing) will give a talk on lived language learning experience of an Indonesian engineer in a Norwegian multinational oil company.

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While English is widely used as the working language in multinational companies, local language still plays an important role in the workplace in non-English speaking countries. This condition can cause difficulties for international employees who are not competent in the local language. In this seminar, I will present my work in progress and discuss preliminary results from an interview-based case study of an Indonesian female engineer who works in a multinational oil and gas company in Norway.

Drawing on Norton's theory of investments (Norton Peirce, 1995; Norton, 2013), I analyze the participant's lived language learning experience (Busch, 2015) by exploring the factors influencing her investments in learning the Norwegian language and how these affect her language learning trajectories . The findings from this case study suggest an entanglement between the actual language practices in the workplace and language learning investments. 

A key observation is that the linguistic market makes English less relevant in this multinational company and gives privilege to Norwegian. This therefore leads to a subtle pressure and expectation for the international employee to use Norwegian for work. While the local employees are willing to accommodate the new international colleague by using English, this willingness diminishes over time. This situation creates both challenges and opportunities in using Norwegian in the workplace: it is challenging for the international employee who does not possess sufficient skills in the language, but at the same time, it creates an opportunity and motivation to learn. Investing in learning and using Norwegian is thus seen as important in order to integrate both professionally and socially in this multinational workplace.

I will also discuss future research directions and possible challenges in data collection.


Busch, B. (2015). Expanding the notion of the linguistic repertoire: On the concept of Spracherleben - The lived experience of language. Applied Linguistics, 38 (3), 340-358.

Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social Identity, Investment, and Language Learning, TESOL Quarterly, 29 (1), 9-31.

Norton, B. (2013). Identity and language learning: Extending the conversation. Multilingual matters.


Nuranindia Endah Arum is a Doctoral Research Fellow at MultiLing - Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo. She holds an MA in Italian Studies and Linguistics (University of Bologna) and a BA in French Studies (University of Indonesia). She also has several years of experience teaching Italian, French, and Indonesian language. Her PhD project focuses on language practices and Norwegian language learning experience of Indonesians in Norwegian professional settings.


Published May 23, 2021 10:54 AM - Last modified May 23, 2021 7:08 PM