Translanguaging in the Family Context: Evidence from Cyprus, Sweden and Estonia

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Abstract


The aim of this paper is to highlight translanguaging practices in the home among bilingual/multilingual Russian-speaking children and their parents in Cyprus, Sweden and Estonia. Multilingual families are the focus of our research: 50 in Cyprus, 20 in Estonia and 50 in Sweden. Using parental written question- naires with the focus on general background, socio-economic status and language proficiency, as well as oral semi-structured interviews and ethnographic participant observation, our study attempts to describe how family language policy is managed through translanguaging and literacy activities in multilingual Russian-speaking families in three different cultural and linguistic environments. Our results show both differences and similarities among Russian-speakers in the three countries, not only in their family language practices, but also in their attitudes towards the fluidity of language, language repertoires, translanguaging and Russian-language literacy. Russian-speakers incorporate a wide range of language repertoires in their everyday lives. Sometimes, such language contacts generate power struggles and the language ideological dimension becomes a key terrain to explore how speakers feel about the need to effectively attain a degree of multilingualism. Multilingualism and the maintenance of the Russian language and culture are usually encouraged, and parents often choose the one-parent-one-language approach at home. However, not all families make conscious choices regarding specific language management and may have “laissez-faire” attitudes to the use of languages in the family. We show how family language use and child-directed translanguaging can support, expand and enhance dynamic bilingualism/multilingualism, and reinforce and integrate minority language in a wider context: societal and educational.

About the authors

Sviatlana Karpava

University of Cyprus

Email: karpava.sviatlana@ucy.ac.cy
75 Kallipoleos, P.O. Box 20537, Nicosia, 1678, Cyprus
Lecturer in Applied Linguistics/TESOL at the Department of English Studies, University of Cyprus. She is a Management Committee Member of the “European Family Support Network Cost Action. A bottom-up, evidence-based and multidisciplinary approach” (2019-2023) as well as a working group member of the “European Network for Combining Language Learning with Crowdsourcing Techniques” Cost Project (2017-2021). Sviatlana participates in Eras- mus plus project “Planting languages-seeds of success” (2019-2021). She is the general secretary of the Cyprus Linguistic Society (CyLing) and active member and research collaborator of Cyprus Acquisition Team. Her area of research is applied linguistics, syntax, morphology, semantics and pragmatics, first and second language acquisition, bilingualism, multilingualism and dialect acquisition, sociolinguistics, teaching and education.

Natalia Ringblom

Stockholm University Dalarna University

Email: nari@slav.su.se
Universitetsvägen 10 E, Stockholm, 10691, Sweden Dalarna University, Falun, 79188, Sweden
(PhD) is a Slavist affiliated with the Department of Slavic and Baltic studies, Finnish, Dutch and German at Stockholm University. She is also an educational developer at Dalarna University. Her main research interests include bilingualism, heritage language acquisition and maintenance, with a particular focus on Russian in Sweden. Her PhD dissertation defended in 2012 was devoted to the acquisition of Russian in a language contacts situation. Her current projects deal with family language policy, as well as heritage language acquisition and maintenance. Natalia is a member of a COST Project: “Enhancing children’s oral skills across Europe and beyond”. She has a long experience of teaching Russian and Swedish at various levels.

Anastassia Zabrodskaja

Tallinn University University of Tartu

Email: anastassia.zabrodskaja@gmail.com
Narva mnt 25, Tallinn, 10120, Estonia Jakobi 2-412, Tartu, 51005, Estonia
Professor of Intercultural Communication at Tallinn University. She works as a Senior Research Fellow in Sociolinguistics at the University of Tartu, in the project IUT20-3 “Sustainability of Estonian in the Era of Globalisation”. In 2013-2017 she participated in the COST project “New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges” and in 2019-2023 - in the COST project “The European Family Support Network: A Bottom-up, Evidence-Based and Multidisciplinary Approach”. Her research deals with identity, intercultural communication, code-switching and linguistic landscape. She has published a monograph and numerous articles on bilingualism and language contacts

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