Smartphone-Based Language Practices among Refugees: Mediational Repertoires in Two Families




linguistic repertoires, mediational repertoire, polymedia, refugees, smartphone-based language practices, informal language learning


Drawing on an ethnographic pilot study carried out in a refugee residence in Hamburg in 2017/18, this paper explores the relationship between smartphone usage and multilingual repertoires among refugee families from Syria and Afghanistan who arrived in Germany since 2015. The data includes nine semi-directed interviews, in which the informants report on their media and language choices for various purposes and to various types of addressees, ethnographic field notes, and video demonstrations of smartphone usage by some of the informants. Analysis focuses on a comparison of the mediational repertoires in two families, originating in Syria and Afghanistan. We explore the relevance of various factors, such as literacy, type of social contact, and purpose of digital media use, to the informants’ linguistic choices from their repertoire. Both families rely on a wide range on languages and smartphone applications in their everyday life at the residence. In both families, mediational repertoires differ by generation. The paper also discusses sources and strategies for smartphone-based language-learning. The findings suggest that media literacy and Internet access are highly relevant to the process of social integration, including language learning, among refugees.




Artamonova, O., & Androutsopoulos, J. (2020). Smartphone-Based Language Practices among Refugees: Mediational Repertoires in Two Families. Journal für Medienlinguistik, 2(2), 60–89.