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What Is DigiFam?

Globalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated and expanded the use of digital media for various purposes such as language and literacy learning. This article written by Maria Antonina Obojska and Potheini Vaiouli provides real evidence of the role and the approach of digital media in transnational families in Luxembourg, supported by an exhaustive literature review. Luxembourg is an ideal setting for this research due to its high number of Internet users and non-national population. 

Through an online survey including closed- and opened-questions, 209 participants (including parents and children who met the criteria to participate in the questionnaire) expressed their opinions on the use of digital media. It is important to note that this research aims to focus on the families’ perspective rather than on the learning outcomes. Three main questions were explored regarding the use and frequency of digital resources, as well as families’ opinions. The survey was conducted in a period of three months, from December 2021 to February 2022 and specific eligibility criteria had to be met to participate in the research.  

Despite the numerous benefits of digital media, there are also limitations. On one hand, the research reveals that parents primarily use digital media for communication purposes such as using translation tools or dictionaries, as well as for leisure activities like listening to audio content or watching videos. On the other hand, children tend to use digital practices for watching video content and playing online games, with the use of translation tools being less common compared to their parents.  

To conclude, although families generally agree on the usefulness and positive impact of digital media for language learning and maintaining contact with their heritage languages, it is important to acknowledge the existence of limitations. The research addresses some of the parent’s concerns and limitations such as screen exposure time and worries about healthy digital media practices. Parents suggest that cooperation between Luxembourgish authorities and children’s schools is necessary to provide a wide range of safe and educational online resources. 

How do digital media support language and literacy learning? 

Over the course of the past year, the DigiFam project  has sought answers on the way multilingual, transnational families in Luxembourg use digital media to learn languages and  language skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking. Within this context, we have formed a three-step process to gain a deeper understanding on the use of digital media as a tool to promote  language learning.

First, we conducted a focus group with four parents (From Cape Verde, Czechia and Poland) and had the opportunity to discuss the languages they learn and the digital media they use during their daily routines. Also, we had the opportunity to hear about differences between the choices parents and their children made and how these may support them in their learning endeavors. As a next step for this project, we used this information for the design of a detailed survey on the use of digital media for language and literacy learning. The survey, available in four languages (French, German, English, and Portuguese), was broadly circulated to schools and parent organizations in Luxembourg from September 2021 to February 2022. Parents were asked questions on their own and their children language learning and digital practices, such as which languages the families used during daily routines, the various activities they associated with the use of different languages, and the frequency at which parents and their children used digital media in their daily lives. Also, parents had the opportunity to share their own views and experiences on learning languages with digital media in a descriptive way.

As a final step, we are currently conducting extensive interviews with selected families over a period of three months. During this time, we have the opportunity to explore further the use of digital media for parents and their children. Parents share examples of digital media use in their daily routines through pictures and videos of themselves and their children and we discuss how they are useful in the process of improving their language skills.


Preliminary Results

Our results so far indicate that digital media play an integral part in the families’ practices when it comes to language learning. Parents have indicated the affordability and playfulness of different apps, websites, and language platforms. We also explore the availability of appropriate resources and understand deeper their concerns on issues related to screen time and the age of their children. Overall, our study indicates that digital media may provide learning opportunities and thus they hold the potential to support both parents and their children when learning new languages.



Final Results