Luxury Bilingualism

Dean Garlick

I would like to write my first blog post in response to Rydenvald’s (2015) article: Elite bilingualism? Language Use Among Multilingual Teenagers of Swedish Background in European Schools and International Schools of Europe.

In regards to the concept of ‘elite bilingualism’, it is exactly that. These children, both in European and International schools, have the luxury of keeping their Swedish identity while living in foreign countries. They speak Swedish with their Swedish-speaking friends and relatives, have classes in Swedish, and up to 86% of the students in European schools spend three weeks or more in Sweden in the summer, thereby maintaining a connection with their home culture (Rydenvald, 2015). Because English—the language of global economic power—is a significant language of instruction, it also becomes a common language amongst the students of different backgrounds, along with other languages which aren’t specified. Most significantly to me is the fact that these students exhibit “marginal use of the local majority language” (Rydenvald, 2015, p. 225). They are more-or-less cut off from the community surrounding their school. Their status protects them from the challenges of being a true immigrant wherein the individual has no choice but to conform to the local culture in order to survive. They stay comfortably within the elite culture-bubble and prosperous futures are all but guaranteed for them.

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