Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Language Use and Social Inclusion in International Retirement Migration

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Abstract:  The migration of older people in search for improved quality of life has become an important form of human mobility, and popular retirement destinations are often highly multilingual settings. This article explores language use and social inclusion in international retirement migration through a case study of Scandinavian retirees in the Alicante province in Spain. It examines the linguistic landscape they meet, their language use and their inclusion in their new home country. Interviews with retired migrants and key local individuals show that many migrants try to learn the host country language, but that these attempts are often not very successful. As a result, they frequently use either their native language or English for everyday communication. This article elaborates on three theoretical and political notions of inclusion—assimilation, multiculturalism and civic integration—and discusses how retired migrants’ language use can be interpreted in the light of these notions.

Keywords:  international retirement migration; language; multilingualism; social inclusion; Spain



© Per Gustafson, Ann Elisabeth Laksfoss Cardozo. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.