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Deaf migrants in Swedish adult education: Language ideologies, repertoires, and translingual practices

Publicerad:22 maj

Nora Duggan har forskat om språkinlärning för döva migranter i svensk
vuxenutbildning med särskilt fokus på hur språkliga, sociala och kulturella
faktorer påverkar deras språkinlärning och språkanvändning.


Nora Duggan


Docent Ingela Holmström, Stockholms universitet Professor Carla Jonsson, Stockholms universite


Professoer Annelies Kusters, Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom

Disputerat vid

Stockholms universitet



Abstract in English

This thesis is concerned with language learning experiences of deaf migrants in Swedish adult education with a particular focus on how linguistic, social, and cultural factors influence their experiences. Additionally, the thesis critically questions the feasibility of ‘full integration’ for deaf migrants in Swedish society. The four studies comprising this thesis employ various sociolinguistic theoretical frameworks to investigate these complex issues.

While it is common for migrants to face hurdles upon arrival in a new country, deaf migrants often encounter additional challenges. A notable contrast between deaf and hearing migrants in Sweden is that it is common for hearing migrants to learn Swedish so they will not need to use interpreters while deaf migrants learn Swedish and Swedish Sign Language so that they can use interpreters. This places significant pressure on deaf migrants, as not being able to learn Swedish Sign Language may restrict their access to essential services such as healthcare. Moreover, it is possible that deaf migrants have had limited access to language in their home environment prior to coming to Sweden. These disparities present formidable challenges not only for deaf migrants but also for education and public service providers. Given Sweden’s emphasis on the importance of language learning in term of integration, it is crucial to better understand deaf migrants’ language learning experiences and, in turn, how it affects their experiences of integration.

This thesis explores deaf migrants’ language learning experiences and how these affect their opportunities for integration into Swedish society. Employing linguistic ethnography as an approach, the empirical data include video recordings from participant observations and semi-structured interviews conducted in four folk high schools (equivalent to non-formal adult education) across Sweden. Based on the analysis of these data, this compilation thesis comprises four studies: (i) an exploration of language ideologies constructed in the classrooms and their impact on deaf migrants’ language learning experiences, (ii) an examination of different translanguaging strategies used in the classrooms and the efficiency of these strategies, (iii) an investigation of the sociocultural factors that influence language use and language learning, and (iv) an examination of the effects of the Swedish bureaucratic system on deaf migrants’ integration experiences.

These studies highlight the challenges associated with deaf migrants’ language learning that need to be considered before creating language policies that affect marginalised groups. This thesis offers new insights into how deaf migrants experience learning new languages and how their languaging challenges linguistic norms in Swedish society. Lastly, this thesis underscores the need for a transformative approach to language education that embraces different ways of languaging and places diversity and equity at the forefront.

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