Multilingualism and age:The consequences of retirement on multilingual competence

Krakenberger, Etna Rosa (6 May 2012). Multilingualism and age:The consequences of retirement on multilingual competence (Unpublished). In: 2nd LINEE Conference: Multilingualism in the public sphere. Dubrovnik. 04-06.05.2012.

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OBJECTIVES: The research question for this project mainly concentrates on the sociolinguistic aspects of a socalled “language related major life event” (De Bot, 2007): retirement. “Language related major life events” are events in the lifespan that are important for changes happening in the linguistic setting which influence the language development. In my paper I will explore changes happening around retirement in regard to multilingual competence. The focus will be on two groups: Italian migrants living in the city of Berne and Swissgerman-speakers, both at the age around retirement. The above mentioned changes can take place on two levels. (1) On the one hand, people have more time for curricular activities after retirement, which they can use in order to learn new languages or to improve their language skills. In this case we are dealing with the concept of “lifelong learning”. (2) On the other hand, language competence can be lost due to the (partial) loss of the retiree’s social network at their former workplace.
METHODS: I will first examine these processes by using quantitative questionnaires in order to obtain general information on demographic data, the social situation, and a self-assessment of linguistic skills. Secondly, I will use qualitative interviews to gain in-depth information on the linguistic changes happening around retirement and their link to different factors, such as social networks, education, gender or the language biography.
RESULTS: Since the project is still in its early stages of development, clear results can’t be mentioned yet. By May 2012 I will be able to present results of the quantitative study as well as a first glance into the results of the qualitative part of the project.
CONCLUSION: The results of this project are meant to benefit the better insight into different aspects that haven’t been looked at in detail till this point. (1) What is the general and linguistic situation of Italian migrants who decided to remain in Switzerland after retirement and how can their linguistic skills affect their quality of living? (2) Who decides to learn a new language after retirement and how should language courses for older people be designed?

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Italian Language and Literature > Linguistic Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Krakenberger, Etna Rosa


400 Language > 450 Italian, Romanian & related languages




Etna Rosa Krakenberger

Date Deposited:

03 Mar 2015 14:50

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:41


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