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The multicultural realities of modern society require an effective system to support the development and preservation of the heritage language of children growing and developing outside of their heritage culture. Digital technologies may come at hand to parents and educators who strive to create such a system for their bi/multilingual children.
This paper reports on the mixed methods research study that documented and analyzed attitude to and the usage of digital technologies by Russian-speaking parents raising bi-/multilingual children outside of Russia. Thirty-four participants from 12 countries completed an online questionnaire. Three native Russian mothers raising young Russian heritage language learners were also engaged into a case study.
The study revealed that parenting efforts could include speech development learning activities with traditional and digital learning tools. Participants expressed their favorable view on the educational value of digital (computer, mobile, online) technologies. In practice, parents’ usage of these tools was very limited as most of them preferred a printed book and live communication for maintaining Russian. It was obvious that many parents are not well informed about the availability of high-quality digital resources for the development of Russian speech in preschoolers and/or don't see their advantages. The results of the research confirmed studies that indicated the importance of creating the “child-digital resource-teacher” interaction and the need for mediation by an adult in a situation where a child interacts with a computer or tablet. These results are of practical significance for formal/informal bilingual educators, teacher training institutions and parents of bi/multilingual children.
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