Multilingual dynamics: exploring English as a third language in Russian-speaking families across Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Israel, and Sweden

Sviatlana Karpava, Anastassia Zabrodskaja, Anna Ritter, Natalia Meir, Natalia Ringblom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Employing a qualitative approach for data collection and analysis, this research focuses on 50 multilingual families, with ten from each country. The study explores the role of English as a third language (L3) in both endogamous and exogamous multilingual families with immigrant and minority backgrounds across Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Israel, and Sweden. Additionally, it examines the impact of English on family language practices, its effects on Russian as a heritage language, on the majority country language(s), and on (online) education, as well as on (digital) literacy skills. The findings, based on the thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with mothers, highlight the importance of English as an L3 in the context of the majority language and Russian as a heritage language. This emphasises parents’ recognition of English as crucial for their children’s future success and the significance of English education for academic achievement. The study underscores the evolving role of English in multilingual families, by putting emphasis on the need for continued exploration of language practices, proficiency development, and the broader impact on family language policies. We advocate for further investigation into the influence of social and technological factors to enhance understanding of language dynamics in diverse multicultural contexts.

Bibliographical note

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Keywords

  • English
  • Heritage language
  • family language policies
  • majority language
  • multilingual families

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