Research on work-based learning has produced much insight into how newcomers to work roles acquire the skills and knowledge required in their work. Overwhelmingly, studies have shown that learning takes place through participation in work activities which provides opportunities for learning. But participation can be problematic when workers and the workplace provide limited opportunities for newcomers to take part in ongoing work activities. This article presents the case of a trainee cook negotiating access to work activities and routinising participation through "origination" and establishing a "legitimate presence". The data are drawn from a linguistic ethnography on the work placement experience of trainee cooks and were collected through participant observation, interviews and audio-recordings of verbal interactions in nine professional kitchens. The conclusions reached are useful for understanding the ways in which trainees and other newcomers may initiate themselves into work in order to learn through doing so, and will be relevant to professionals involved in the design of work preparation programmes.
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