| More

The positioning of English as a key skill in the labour market of Marseille’s Tourist Office

Views: 592 Downloads: 299


Marseille is reinventing itself as an urban tourist destination. The aim of this paper is to explore the effects that the resulting intensification of international tourism may have on the city, its population and its labour market. Drawing on previous research, language is shown to be a powerful lens through which to explore such phenomena. Therefore, an ethnographic research project was undertaken in Marseille’s Tourist Office, focussing on language use in encounters between international tourists and tourist advisers. The analyses of these data presented here show that English facilitates communication between these parties and thus becomes an indispensable resource for those working at the Tourist Office. It is thus shown how the English language is a key skill in the Tourist Office’s labour market and acts as a discriminatory factor in the recruitment of tourism professionals. In conclusion, some of the potential wider social repercussions are discussed.


Tourism; language; English; labour market; Marseille

Full Text:



AGAM. (2015). Qui sont les Marseillais ? Radioscopie des habitants. Regards de l’AGAM, 28. Retrieved 30/09/2017 from http://www.agam.org/fr/publications/regards-de-lagam/regards-de-lagam-n28.html

Blommaert, J. (2010). The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blue, G.M. & Harun, M. (2003). Hospitality language as a professional skill. English for Specific Purposes, 22, 73–91.

Bourdieu, P. (1982). Ce que parler veut dire: L’économie des échanges linguistiques. Paris: Fayard.

Cheng, W. (2004). // did you [TOOK] // from the miniBAR //: what is the practical relevance of a corpus-driven language study to practitioners in Hong Kong’s hotel industry?. In U. Connor & T. Upton (eds). Discourse in the Professions: Perspectives from corpus linguistics (pp.146-166). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

City of Marseille. (2016). Marseille Tourism Observatory: Key Figures 2016. Marseille: City of Marseille.Retrieved 30/09/2017 from http://fr.calameo.com/read/002243401dbcd0c813eeb

Dann, G. (1996). The Language of Tourism: A Sociolinguistic Perspective. Wallingford: CAB International.

De tefani, E. & Mondada, L. (2014). Reorganizing Mobile Formations: When “Guided” Participants Initiate Reorientations in Guided Tours. Space and Culture 17, 157–175.

Duchêne, A. (2008). Marketing, management and performance: multilingualism as commodity in a tourism call centre. Language Policy 8, 27–50.

Duchêne, A. (2011). N olib ralisme, in galit s sociales et plurilinguisme : l’exploitation des ressources langagières et des locuteurs. Langage et société, 136(2), 81–108.

Fishman, J.A. (1965). Who Speaks What Language to Whom and When? La Linguistique 1(2), 67–88.

Gasquet-Cyrus, M. (2000). Villes plurilingues et imaginaire linguistique–Le cas de Marseille. In L-J. Calvet & A. Moussirou-Mouyama (eds.), Actes du colloque international sur les villes plurilingues, Libreville (pp. 369–386). Paris: Didier.

Giles, H., Coupland, J. & Coupland, N. (eds.) (1991). Contexts of Accommodation: Developments in Applied Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heller, M. (2003). Éléments d’une sociolinguistique critique. Paris: Didier France.

Heller, M., Pujolar, J. & Duchêne, A. (2014). Linguistic commodification in tourism. Journal of Sociolinguistics 18, 539–566.

House, J. (2003). English as a lingua franca: A threat to multilingualism? Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7(4), 556‐578.

Jaworski, A. & Thurlow, C. (2010a). Language and the Globalizing Habitus of Tourism: Toward A Sociolinguistics of Fleeting Relationships. In N. Coupland (ed.), The Handbook of Language and Globalization (pp. 255–286). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell,.

Jaworski, A. & Thurlow, C. (2010b). Tourism Discourse. Language and Global Mobility. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jenkins, J., Cogo, A. & Dewey, M. (2011). Review of developments in research into English as a lingua franca. Language Teaching 44, 281–315.

Moreau, M.-L. (1997). Sociolinguistique: les concepts de base. Paris: Editions Mardaga.

Peraldi, M., Duport, C. & Samson, M. (2015). Sociologie de Marseille. Paris: La Découverte.

Phipps, A.M. (2006). Learning the Arts of Linguistic Survival: Languaging, Tourism, Life. Clevedon: Channel View Publications.

UNWTO. (2017). UNTWO Tourism Highlights. 2017 Edition. United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Retrieved 30/09/2017 from http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/book/10.18111/9789284419029

Urry, J. (1990). The Tourist Gaze. London: SAGE.

Vitorio, R.V.M. (2014). Inequality, mobility, and super-diversity: Linguistic ideologies and performances in the Philippine tourism industry. Unpublished Master's degree thesis, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

Wilson, A. (2016). Dynamiques sociolinguistiques de la globalisation : l’exemple de l’Office du Tourisme de Marseille. Unpublished PhD thesis, Aix Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence, France.

Yuen, W.L. (2009). An investigation of the politeness phenomena in hotel service encounters. Unpublished PhD thesis, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR.


  • There are currently no refbacks.