1st Edition

The Role of Language in the Wellbeing of Migrants East Asian Communities in Germany

By Zi Wang Copyright 2022
    198 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the correlations between language behaviour and happiness amongst communities of migrants, and addresses the overarching question of whether language can affect wellbeing.

    Zi Wang takes an innovative look at migration and wellbeing by examining the crucial role language – a quintessential part of the international migration experience – plays in migrants’ wellbeing. Drawing on case studies from Chinese and Japanese-speaking communities in Germany, as well as secondary survey data on the general migrant population, Wang shows that proficiency in both host country and heritage languages is associated with robust enhancements of migrants’ subjective wellbeing. He argues that acquisition of host country language and the preservation and promotion of heritage culture should not be portrayed as a zero-sum game by stakeholders in host societies. Instead, we ought to consider the unique experiences of migrants in order to fully comprehend the ways in which they experience, evaluate, and pursue happiness in a host society. 

    Presenting a novel approach to the study of migrants’ wellbeing, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of area studies, education, international migration, sociology of language, and wellbeing research.

    Foreword by Florian Coulmas

    Chapter 1. Language and migrants’ wellbeing: An overview

    Chapter 2. Language, nation states, and minorities

    Chapter 3. Migration-induced diversity and a framework to study language and wellbeing of migrants

    Chapter 4. Europe’s top migrant destination and two dynamic Asian communities

    Chapter 5. Effects of host country language skills on migrants’ wellbeing

    Chapter 6. Effects of heritage language skills on migrants’ wellbeing

    Chapter 7. Heritage language maintenance in educational contexts: The role of community-based heritage educational organisations

    Chapter 8. Language ideologies in current policies: Issues and benefits of mainstreaming migrant multilingualism

    Chapter 9. Epilogue: Migration and wellbeing from the language perspective

    Annex: Full regression magnitude tables



    Zi Wang is a Marie Curie Fellow at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO) in Paris, France. His research on comparative education, language, migration, and wellbeing has received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG research grant) and the European Commission (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship).

    "This book provides a close-up look at the interplay of language education and migrants’ wellbeing in the Chinese and Japanese communities in Germany. Based on rich empirical data, Zi Wang shows how both heritage language skills and a proficiency in German foster migrants’ quality of life and upward mobility. A must-read for academics and policymakers."

    Gabriele Vogt, Professor of Japanese Studies, LMU Munich, Germany


    "This book is unique in its focus on the interface between migration, language and wellbeing. Using mixed methods, Zi Wang unveils the rich and complex life experiences of the Chinese and Japanese-speaking migrant communities in Germany, exploring the impact of their multilingual living on happiness, life satisfaction, emotions, understanding of good life. This is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary field of migration and diaspora studies as well as multilingualism research."

    Li Wei, Director and Dean, UCL Institute of Education, UK


    "When looking at language and migration, it is about time that we move from attaining proficiency, to caring about the wellbeing of our diverse communities. Only then will we be able to design truly equitable policies and practices. This daring and insightful book contributes significantly to this new perspective, and is a real trend-setter!"

    Eva J. Daussà, University Lecturer, University of Groningen, The Netherlands


    "This thought-provoking book will make you reconsider your knowledge of language and migration. Unlike previous studies, Zi Wang brilliantly approaches this issue from a viewpoint of ‘wellbeing’—essential for everyone’s life—making this a must-read for anyone seeking to learn how language illuminates one’s life in a migration context."

    Makiko Fukuda, Associate Professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain