Participation in research projects & networks


Funded by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Projecte Pre-Competitiu, 573959)
Institutions: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, University of Fribourg, University of Southampton & University College London.
Ethnographic and historiographic research

PI: Maria Rosa Garrido Sardà, 5 participants

Short description

In Catalonia, investment in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) in schools and the current rise of family strategies to significantly improve the English competence of the new generations seem to be closely related to the evolution of discourses and practices on teaching/learning English since the educational transition period between 1970 and 1990. Following Spain’s accession to the Council of Europe (CoE, 1977) and the European Union (EU, 1986), educational policies shifted towards a European-oriented project that consolidated English as the dominant foreign language (FL) at the expense of French. Within the framework of historiography applied to language policy, the project investigates discourses on FL and language ideologies in Catalan educational laws and the press, and how they materialise in teaching material, notably textbooks, and the pedagogical practices of teachers who were active during the 1970s and 1980s. The historiographical analysis of legislative, journalistic, and pedagogical texts will be triangulated with a biographical analysis of the lived experience and trajectories of FL teachers and students. Through a historicising perspective, the results will allow us to deepen our understanding of the beliefs and rationalisations that have guided the process of intensifying English over the past three decades and to place the new global value of English in recent Catalan history.


  • Adopt a historicising and biographical perspective on policies relating to the learning of foreign languages at European, national, and Catalan levels.
  • Understand the impact of the “educational transition” in the Spanish State (1970-1990) on teaching and learning practices of foreign languages in Catalonia.
  • Understand the evolution of discourses on English and French and their school-based learning through the biographical narratives of teachers and students of the period.
  • Analyse the language ideologies that underpin teaching practices and the selection of pedagogical materials by teachers who were active during the studied period.
  • Examine the motivations, justifications, and evaluations of teaching and learning foreign languages by students of the time.
  • Contrast the professional trajectories, teaching experiences, and social perceptions between French and English language teachers.
  • Establish an international research team that adopts a social and historical perspective on the teaching and learning of foreign languages.


For the implementation of this study, the researchers will use a qualitative methodology that requires collecting different types of data:

  • State educational laws and international recommendations (EU, CoE) for language teaching.
  • Interviews with foreign language teachers and students during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Press articles on FL collected from the main Catalan newspapers of the period.
  • Foreign language textbooks used in Catalonia.


Funded by Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PID2019-106710GB-I00)

Institutions: Universidad de Castilla La Mancha, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, University of Southampton, University of Bristol & University College London.

Co-Researcher (since May 2022)

PI: Ana Maria Relaño-Pastor & Eva Codó, 11 participants
Visit our webpage:

Short description

The ENIFALPO project seeks to identify and map out the ways in which ideas about student achievement in English are evolving among Spanish families, with a particular focus on their language policy strategies. The project departs from the on-the-ground observation that families are taking into their hands, as it were, their children’s acquisition of English more than ever before.Until recently, families’ intervention outside the school context was generally limited to deciding whether or not to enroll their children in extra-curricular language classes, and choosing what they viewed as the most apt provider. In the last decade, by contrast, the insecurity generated by the 2008 crisis has led to intense forms of individual self-capitalization. Spanish families have become careful ‘nurturers’ of their children’s English capitals (Park, 2016) in hitherto unseen ways. They thoroughly plan and organize their children’s language learning in order to maximize opportunity. They search for and strategically choose the best ‘investment’. Most of these efforts are shaped by the ideology of linguistic immersion as the most authentic and effective way of learning a foreign language, which means that in many cases children are sent abroad at very early ages. English language immersion is no longer viewed as happening exclusively in the school context, but rather, is an ideal that can be constructed elsewhere provided that a number of steps are taken: the selection of appropriate speakers, policies for regulating and engineering language use, regular mobilities, etc.

Project objectives

  • To study Spain’s intensified desire for English with a focus on the family as the unit of analysis.
  • To discover what kinds of immersion practices, strategies and investments are sought for and engaged in by Spanish families in Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha and the UK.
  • To analyse families’ language and language learning ideologies sustaining English immersion.
  • To understand the linguistic, socio-economic and affective impact of immersive practices.
  • To unpack families’ motivations, rationalizations and evaluations of their investments.
  • To understand and compare the perspectives and rationalities of family members belonging to different generations.
  • To compare and contrast family strategies across cities and family types.
  • To advance an ethnographic and family-based agenda in the field of language policy and planning.
  • To consolidate a network of researchers working on linguistic immersion from a social perspective across sociopolitical and sociolinguistic contexts.

Language, curriculum and mobility in private school choice

Funded by Faculté des Lettres Université de Lausanne, Vaud Multilingue & Movetia exchange.
Institutions: University of Lausanne & Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Ethnographic research

PI: Maria Rosa Garrido Sardà, 2 participants

Short description

Private schools with varied profiles offer different curriculum and linguistic options than those in the public-school system, which appeal to not only expatriate families but also, increasingly, local populations in search of English-medium and multilingual education. Parents’ linguistic backgrounds, priorities and desires in schooling, as well as past and projected mobility patterns play a central role in choosing a private school. The main goal of this study is to investigate how parents position themselves with respect to English-medium and multilingual education in private and international schools in the canton of Vaud. We will explore the values and meanings associated with English from a multilingual perspective that considers the role of French as the official language, other socially- and economically valued foreign languages and the languages spoken by families. We will be able to compare the findings of this study in Vaud with the results obtained in Catalonia (Spain) and in other Swiss cantons (Ticino).

Guiding research questions

The guiding research questions are the following:

  • Which are the main motivations of families to enroll their children in a private (and sometimes also international) school? In particular, what are the roles that vehicular language(s) and curriculum type play in their choice?
  • Which values and meanings do families and schools attribute to the languages taught and spoken at a particular school? How are they connected to work mobilities and educational, linguistic and citizenship goals?


For the implementation of this study, the researchers will use a qualitative methodology that requires collecting different types of data which might include:

  • Focus groups with parents of pupils in secondary school and International Baccalaureate.
  • Semi-structured interviews with a selection of institutional representatives from the participating schools.
  • Promotional material for parents and institutional documents such as curricula and admission criteria.
  • Participant observation of information events and open days for prospective families.

“Humanitarians on the move”: Multilingual requirements, transnational mobilities and moral ethos in the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Funded by State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) of the Swiss Confederation (Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship 2015.0317).

Institution: Institute of Multilingualism, University of Fribourg (Switzerland)

Historiographic and ethnographic research.

PI: Maria Rosa Garrido

Short description

At the turn of the century, the globalized economy, the weight of international agencies and transnational migrations have increased the demand for multilingual skills in the workplace. In particular, humanitarian agencies must recruit and train mobile and multilingual skilled workers for their missions. This research project explores the recruitment, training and mentoring of skilled workers who cross linguistic and national borders for humanitarian work at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Research questions

The research questions formulated are the following:

  • How important is communication and language for the ICRC mission and activities? Which communicative and linguistic skills are valued as resources to work for the ICRC?
  • What is the role of language competence in the ICRC recruitment and training processes? In what ways it it deployed, treated and evaluated?
  • Which linguistic repertoires are required for different work positions within the ICRC?
  • Which tensions emerge out of the intersection between workers’ repertoires and institutional language requirements in a global, multilingual workplaces

Communicating humanitarianism in Arabic: Institutional management and career paths of Arabic-speaking Communication specialists at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Partly funded by the University of Fribourg (Switzerland)

Institution: Institute of Multilingualism, University of Fribourg (Switzerland) in collaboration with the Communications Department at the ICRC (Geneva, Switzerland)

Historiographic and ethnographic research

PI: Maria Rosa Garrido

Short description

Communicating humanitarianism in Arabic is inscribed in a broader research interest in the management of multilingual and mobile employees in humanitarian organisations. This project investigates the diverse sociolinguistic, work and personal trajectories of (former) mobile communication staff with Arabic competences at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It aims to analyse the value of Arabic for communicating the ICRC’s mandate and to understand its impact on mobile communication staff’s career paths. It addresses a longstanding institutional challenge to recruit and to retain more Arabic-speaking mobile staff in the ICRC mobile communications pool.

Research questions

The research questions that this study seeks to answer are the following: 

  • What is the impact of Arabic competences on mobile communication careers? In particular, in what ways do they shape post assignment and managerial responsibilities?
  • How does the institutional management of Arabic-speaking mobile communication staff influence their career decisions at the ICRC? In particular, why do multilingual workers with Arabic in their repertoires quit the ICRC or the Communication department?
  • How do Arabic competences intersect with gender identities in mobile communication staff’s communication positions and decisions on career moves?

The Appropriation of English as a global language in Catalan secondary schools: A multilingual, situated and comparative approach

Funded by Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) (FF1214-54179-C2-1-P)

Institutions: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), University of Fribourg (Switzerland), University of Leeds (UK) and University of Southampton (UK)


PI: Eva Codó, 6 participants

Short description

The aim of the project is to investigate the increasing Englishisation of the Catalan educational system by studying the implementation of various forms of English-medium instruction in three different types of secondary schools: a public, concertada (semi-private) and a private international school.

It belongs to the coordinated R D project entitled Multilingual education in the global era: Markets, desire, practices and identities among Spanish adolescents in two autonomous communities (MUEDGE) which aims to compare the processes and practices of appropriation of English as a global language in Catalonia and Castilla-La Mancha. The Castilla-La Mancha team is grouped under the APINGLO-UCLM project led by Dr Ana Maria Relaño Pastor.

Scientific goals

Broadly speaking, the scientific goals of APINGLO-CAT are:

  1. To ethnographically study the implementation of different forms of multilingual education in the current Catalan context
  2. Comprehend the meanings and values currently associated to English in the Catalan educational context from a multilingual perspective,
  3. Describe communicative practices inside and outside the multilingual classroom, and understand the role and function of the different languages at play.
  4. Compare the results of the above-mentioned aims in Catalonia with the findings in Castilla-La Mancha.

“New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges”.

Funded by COST European Cooperation in Science and Technology (IS1306 COST Action).

Chairs: Bernadette O’Rourke and Joan Pujolar. 27 participating states.

Participation in Work Group 2: New Speakers and Migration and Work group 8: Speakerness: Subjectivities, Trajectories and Socialisation.

Short description

The main aim  of the Action is to bring into focus the challenges and opportunities involved in acquiring, using and being understood as a “new speaker” of a language in the context of a multilingual Europe.

Researcher-specific objectives

The objectives of the Action respond to the interests of both researchers and stakeholders:

  • To coordinate a cross-case analysis of new speaker profiles within and across three multilingual strands and to identify common themes and theoretical frameworks across this disciplinary spectrum.
  • To produce a special issue in an academic journal and an edited book addressing conceptual and theoretical commonalities across the three multilingual strands
  • To develop a set of research questions and basic work plan for an international research project which will be used in future applications for funding.
  • To develop a typology of new speaker profiles in the context of a multilingual Europe.

Stakeholder-specific objectives:

  • To identify thematic areas of knowledge for which sufficient evidence exists to make immediate policy and practice recommendations, and that which requires further research
  • To produce guidelines to assist stake holders in the successful management and development of linguistic diversity in regional minority and immigrant contexts, integration services and in multilingual corporate contexts
  • To produce guidelines on adopting new languages for dissemination to the general public.
  • Design a large-scale practitioner and policy dissemination programme including publications, web-sites and seminars, workshops and other events. Perform and evaluate at least one such Action (to be decided amongst researchers and stakeholders).
  • To produce a research framework that is made accessible to the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Multilingualism to guide future investment decisions in the European Research Area

Multilingualism and mobility: Linguistic Practices and identity Construction

Funded by Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) (FFI2011-26964)

Institutions: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), University of Toronto (Canada), University of Fribourg (Switzerland), University of Southampton (UK)

Pre-doctoral research assistant: Ethnographic fieldwork.

Coordinator of the action research project “Mou-te en català” to design Catalan teaching materials for newly-arrived multilingual migrants in Barcelona

PI: Melissa G. Moyer, 8 participants

Short description

This project focuses on the study of multilingualism from the perspective of the recent mobilities and globalisation paradigm (Heller 2010, Pennycook 2007, Blommaert 2010, Urry 2007, Sassen 1998). This paradigm takes up the analysis of linguistic practices by mobile people with transnational trajectories such as the immigrants or tourists who come to Spain and need to interact and communicate with civic institutions, on the one hand, and with autochthonous people whose life trajectories are more stable, on the other. This research departs from the point of view of these transnational people, and it takes into account the ways in which they construct their identities through and within their social networks and how they get involved with the local communities through their multilingual linguistic practices. Our hypothesis is that the way in which information relevant to mobile citizens is organised and the everyday multilingual practices of immigrants and tourists does not coincide with the predictions of the institutions belonging to the public, private and NGO-like sectors who welcome people from increasingly diverse backgrounds (Moyer 2010a, 2010b, Sabaté i Dalmau 2010, Codó and Garrido 2010). For this reason, it is relevant to study and to generate knowledge on intercultural communication among transnational citizens. The present project also seeks to examine the categories immigrant and tourist and to characterize their linguistic practices and to understand the intersections of language and multilingual practices with social class, ethnicity, gender and age.


The main aim of this project is to conduct a multisited ethnography in four physical spaces which will provide access to transnational communities who moved to Spain for leisure purposes or to find better life and work chances. These settings are: a tourist enclave, an ethnic business, a multinational company with non-Spanish employees, and a non-profit transnational association or organization. The specific objectives are: (a) to establish the different ways in which transnational groups manage and practice multilingualism in each context (b) to understand their linguistic practices and how different (or similar) these are according to social class, gender, ethnicity and age of the participants in the interactions, (c) to investigate the role of English as a lingua franca employed among transnational people as an inter-group and intra-group communication strategies, (d) to contribute to the knowledge of a new sociolinguistic situation in our society from the point of view of the mobilities paradigm, (e) to advance and provide new practical and linguistic knowledge which can be useful for the management of multilingualism in public, private and non-governmental institutions.


A qualitative methodology which requires undertaking extensive ethnographic fieldwork is adopted in each of the sites studied. The data obtained through participant observation and fieldnotes are complemented with fine-grained transcriptions of audio and video recordings conducted in the four different contexts, in-depth interviews (spontaneous and structured) audio and video recordings and, finally, supporting secondary data such as legalisation, official documents, and media-collected statements from the key representatives of the social networks we aim to investigate. The use of a wide range of data allows for the triangulation of findings and provides further evidence supporting our interpretations of the linguistic practices of the social groups under study.

La gestión del multilingüismo en el ámbito institucional/ The Management of Multilingualism in Institutional Sites

Funded by Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (HUM2007-61864)

Institutions: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), University of Toronto (Canada), University of Fribourg (Switzerland), University of Southampton (UK)

Pre-doctoral research assistant: Ethnographic fieldwork.

PI: Melissa G. Moyer, 10 participants

Short description

OBJECTIVES The object of the present investigation is to undertake ethnographic studies at three sites: a non-governmental organization dedicated to adult education, a public hospital, and a multinational company based in Spain. The specific objectives of this project are: (a) to establish the multilingual practices (the distribution of languages) in each institution, (b) to analyze and characterize multilingual interactions and the strategies adopted to negotiate meaning as well as language diversity; (c) to study the role of English in a global world and in particular how it works as a lingua franca in the three sites; (d) to propose a model to manage linguistic diversity; (e) to contribute to improving knowledge about a new sociolinguistic situation in Spain. The object of this project is to make a theoretical contribution that will help us to better understand the role of language in the new economy of services. It seeks to provide an understanding how different ways of being and practicing multilingualism acquires value in the local linguistic markets.


A qualitative methodology that requires ethnographic fieldwork in each one of the organizations is used. The data obtained from participant observation techniques and field notes are complemented with detailed transcriptions of audio and video recordings undertaken in the three service providing institutions, audio interviews (spontaneous and structured) will be carried out with both institutional representatives and the public, and finally secondary data such as legislation, official documents as well as public declarations in the media by institutional representatives.

Management of the Linguistic Reception of Newcomers in a Public Institution and a Non Governmental Institution (2007ARAF100018)

Funded by Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca

Institutions: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)

Pre-doctoral research assistant: Ethnographic fieldwork.

PI: Melissa G. Moyer, 7 participants

Short description

Catalan society is going through a period of significant socioeconomic changes. The range of globalizing phenomena which we are experiencing at present is characterized by a service based economy, the new consumerist society, the internationalization of communication systems, the movement of economic capitals and above all, migration movements and global interconnection. From the mid-1990s, and especially with the arrival of the 21st century, Catalonia has become the recipient of people originating from developing countries, economic (im)migrants. New migrations have challenged key aspects in relation to equality policies in addition to cultural and linguistic heterogeneity, especially in the field of education and in language planning for integrative policies. The public bodies from the Catalan administration which manage migration are also facing the challenge to integrate newcomers through the present Catalan model of social integration and inclusion. A new Catalonia is emerging so it is necessary to prepare institutions and citizens for the changes in order to prevent these new migrations from creating new social divisions.

The objective of this research group is to investigate the role of languages, including immigrant languages and international linguae francae (English in particular) in addition to the two local languages, in the reception and incorporation process of foreign citizens in Catalonia. We propose a study of two sites, public health provision and non formal adult reception education, which are in control of the management of linguistic diversity, the key to prevent social exclusion.