“They have no language”: Exploring language ideologies in adult education for deaf migrants

Autor/a: DUGGAN, Nora; HOLMSTRÖM, Ingela
Año: 2022
Editorial: Apples, Journal of Applied Language Studies, 16(2), 147–165
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda


This article is based on data from an empirical research project on the multilingual situation of deaf migrants in Sweden. Deaf migrants attending folk high schools are a heterogeneous group with various language and educational backgrounds. Some of them have grown up with limited or no access to a spoken or signed language while others have grown up learning multiple languages. In those schools, the migrants learn Swedish Sign Language (STS) and Swedish as well as about Swedish society. The study uses an ethnographic approach, and data has been created through participant observations and interviews with teachers and migrants in three folk high schools in different municipalities in Sweden. The analysis reveals that language ideologies are present in these schools, such as what constitutes a language and what status different languages and other repertoires have. In addition, STS appears to be the only acceptable language for communication within the schools. Another finding is that the Eurocentric perspective on ‘language’ among researchers and teachers often collides with the migrants who have different experiences of language use. Furthermore, the study reveals that some migrants, after some time in school, begin to view their previous repertoires used for communication as inferior to STS. It also emerges that the teachers lack the knowledge necessary to understand what it means to learn a language formally for the first time as an adult. In order to develop teachers’ knowledge to ensure social justice, research on adult deaf migrants’ language acquisition within school contexts is essential.