Accepted Paper:

Language education as industry: the preparation of Philippine nurses for the German market  


Stefanie Meier (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates how - in the context of labor migration - language education is set up as a market. The analysis of language education as industry also helps to identify who holds the power over what language, who positions the speakers and who scripts the language.

Paper long abstract:

This paper investigates language education as industry by focusing on the current recruitment of nurses from the Philippines for work in Germany. The care shortage in Germany has prompted the recruitment of non-German speaking personnel from countries such as the Philippines. In 2012 the German and the Philippine government signed a bilateral labor agreement which promotes and regulates the migration of Philippine nurses to Germany. In March 2016 they officially opened the market for other brokering agencies outside the governmental pilot project. In order to be eligible for a work visa in Germany, Philippine nurses need to certify a German language knowledge of B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) - a high level of language competency which the nurses generally reach after a one year full-time German course. This need for German language competency in the Philippines has resulted in a rapidly expanding market.

The language industry is heavily intertwined with the brokering of the workforce as language schools act as brokers or collaborate with brokering agencies, or as brokering agencies start to set up German language programs. Next to the private language schools that cater to adults, the Philippine state (and the Goethe Institute) promotes foreign language learning at high school level. The paper draws on material from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the Philippines. It identifies various levels of market expansion and market diversification in order to uncover structural inequalities in a modern/colonial, capitalist, patriarchal world system.

Panel RM-LL06
Speakers on the move: displacement, surveillance and engagement [IUAES Commission of Linguistic Anthropology]