Digital technologies and reported language practices in Russophone families in Estonia, Germany, and Sweden


  • Natalia Ringblom Umeå University Author
  • Anna Ritter University of Koblenz Author
  • Anastassia Zabrodskaja Tallinn University Author



digitalisation, Family Language Policy, heritage language transmission, immigrants, Russian, Estonia, Germany and Sweden


Forty-five Russophone families in Estonia, Germany and Sweden answered semi-structured questionnaires about their sociolinguistic characteristics and participated in in-depth interviews regarding language use, language transmission and maintenance, and attitudes to all these processes. This comparative analysis of the family context helps to explain the variation in the development of linguistic identities and language-use strategies. We identified clear similarities and differences between these families, especially regarding reported digital language practices among immigrant families. The data analysis showed that the use of digital technologies has an impact on the reported language practices among the families but not necessarily on the use of Russian as a heritage language. Most families highlighted the intensification of internet-based communication with extended family members and the supportive effect of digital technologies on intergenerational heritage language transmission, since younger family members gained more access to Russian via the internet. But the role of digital technologies alone is limited when it comes to intergenerational heritage language transmission and other factors, such as the efforts of parents and the agency of children, seem to be more important. Still, the joint use of digital technologies has a positive effect, especially in those families where the children are actively involved in digital communication.

Author Biographies

  • Natalia Ringblom, Umeå University

    Natalia Ringblom is a Senior Lecturer and an Associate Professor at the Department of Language Studies, Umeå University (Umeå, Sweden). Her main research interests include bilingualism, heritage language acquisition and maintenance, with a particular focus on Russian in Sweden.

  • Anna Ritter, University of Koblenz

    Anna Ritter is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Koblenz (Koblenz, Germany). Her research interests include sociolinguistics, code-switching, family language policy, and German as a second language.

  • Anastassia Zabrodskaja, Tallinn University

    Anastassia Zabrodskaja is Professor of Intercultural Communication at Tallinn University (Tallinn, Estonia). Her primary research interests are identity, language contacts, and linguistic landscapes.


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How to Cite

Ringblom, N., Ritter, A., & Zabrodskaja, A. (2024). Digital technologies and reported language practices in Russophone families in Estonia, Germany, and Sweden. Sociolinguistic Studies, 18(1-2), 155-174.