Ingela Holmström


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Works at Department of Linguistics
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 C, plan 2-3
Room C 344
Postal address Institutionen för lingvistik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am Ph.D. and senior lecturer/associate professor in Sign Language and bilingualism. I am also director for the Swedish Sign Language section.

Presentation in International Sign Language

Ingela Holmström
Ingela Holmström. Click on the image for information in International Sign Language.


I mainly teach at courses in Swedish as a second language for the deaf but also at courses in the bilingualism of the deaf, the history of deaf education and sign language theory. At present, however, I have a break in teaching to devote myself to the research project Mulder and administrative tasks at the department.


My overall research interests lie in communication and interaction between deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people in different contexts, where they make use of different linguistic resources. I obtained my doctoral degree in Education at Örebro University in 2013 with the dissertation Learning by hearing? Technological framings for participation, which covers my main areas of interest described above. My dissertation included a socio-historical analysis of periodicals from 1890 to 2010 that report about technologies, language, and identity of deaf and hard-of-hearing people over the course of time. Moreover, I conducted two case studies about two children with Cochlear implants who are mainstreamed in hearing classrooms. Of particular interest in this study were the topics of participation, power, and technology use, together with overarching questions about communication and interaction.

I have been active at the Department of Linguistics at Stockholm University since 2014 and have worked on a number of different research projects. The latest is the four-year project Mulder, which is funded by the Swedish Research Council (2020-2023). The project is about the multilingual situation of deaf refugees in Sweden. Project Mulder information in International Sign.

Another of the projects I have worked on is about the bilingualism of the deaf and hard-of-hearing, the DHT project, which focuses on special schools as well as municipal schools and schools with special programs for hard-of-hearing students. In the project, we investigate how deaf and hard-of-hearing students' written Swedish and Swedish Sign Language looks like today.

Teaching-related issues are another of my special interests and I have in several projects studied e.g. teaching methods and classroom interaction. Among other things, I currently lead a project that deals with teaching Swedish Sign Language as a second language for hearing beginner students, UTL2. In this project, we study various aspects of the teaching, with the main goal of increasing the knowledge about how the teaching can be carried out to lead to good progression in the learning of Swedish Sign Language. Another related project is the MM project, in which we studied multimodal multilingualism in teaching conducted by deaf teachers in higher education (see Holmström & Schönström 2018).

Interaction outside the school context has also been one of my research interests. I have participated as a researcher in the project PAL (Participation for All?) which is led by Professor Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta at Jönköping University. The project focuses on young adults who have ADHD or are deaf and their participation in society.

I also have experience from studies based on surveys and interviews. The latest is a survey of parents' experiences of parenting a deaf or hard-of-hearing child and the forms of communication that families use, such as Swedish Sign Language, sign-supported Swedish, and/or spoken Swedish. A previously completed project that is also based on a survey together with in-dept interviews is the HP project where I mapped the competence that exists in the municipalities when it comes to hard-of-hearing school students. Results from this study can be found in Holmström & Schönström (2017).

For other publications from my different research projects, see the publication list.

Research interests

  • Communication and interaction
  • Participation
  • Swedish Sign Language
  • Swedish for deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Bilingualism and multilingualism
  • Language acquisition
  • Teaching issues
  • Deaf education


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Chapter Sign languages
    2020. Ingela Holmström, Krister Schönström. The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Education, 341-352

    In this chapter, focus lie in translation as a language teaching practice in sign bilingual settings in deaf education. Due to limited or no access to sounds, many deaf pupils learn and use spoken languages primarily in their written form. Thus, in this translation practice, deaf pupils are translating between a written language and a sign language. The chapter focuses on translation practices in language teaching contexts and consider both experiences of using sign language translation as an approach in deaf education, sign language studies and translation studies, as well as (second) language teaching. Some concrete pedagogical examples of the application of translation as a pedagogical approach in sign language-based education at different levels, e.g. syllabus, classroom practice and assessment are provided. The chapter begins with an historical account of research on sign languages, sign language translation, and gives a brief account on the history of deaf education. A summary of key research approaches related to sign bilingual teaching with particular focus on translation as a method are also provided. Furthermore, some practical approaches and methods are presented with concrete examples from a sign bilingual classroom. The chapter ends with a conclusion and discussion about future directions.

  • 2019. Hilde Haualand, Ingela Holmström. Deafness and Education International

    This article focuses on the similar approaches to, yet different contexts of legal recognition of sign languages in Sweden and Norway. We use examples from sign language documentation (both scientific and popular), legislation that mentions sign language, organization of implementation of sign language acquisition, and public discourse (as expressed by deaf associations’ periodicals from the 1970s until today), to discuss the status and ideologies of sign language, and how these have affected deaf education. The legal documents indicate that Norway has a stronger and more wide-reaching legislation, especially sign language acquisition rights, but the formal legal recognition of a sign language is not necessarily reflected in how people discuss the status of the sign language. Our analysis reveals that the countries’ sign languages have been subject to language shaming, defined as the enactment of linguistic subordination. The language shaming has not only been enacted by external actors, but has also come from within deaf communities. Our material indicates that language shaming has been more evident in the Norwegian Deaf community, while the Swedish Deaf community has been more active in using a “story of legislation” in the imagination and rhetoric about the Swedish deaf community and bilingual education. The similarities in legislation, but differences in deaf education, popular discourse and representation of the sign languages, reveal that looking at the level and scope of legal recognition of sign language in a country, only partially reflects the acceptance and status of sign language in general.

  • 2019. Ingela Holmström. Journal of Language Teaching and Research 10 (4), 659-672

    This study focuses on a Swedish Sign Language (STS) interpreting education, in which the students learn a second language (L2) that is expressed in the visual-gestural modality instead of the auditory-vocal one. Due to the lack of research on sign language L2 instruction, the teachers have limited scientific knowledge and proven experience to lean on in their work. Therefore, an action research-based project was started with the aim to enhance teachers’ knowledge about effective ways of teaching STS as an L2, and to examine how teaching can lead to students making good progress and attaining deep knowledge in STS. The article presents results from one of the projects’ sub-studies, Initial teaching through different primary languages, where a hearing STS L2 teacher’s approaches are examined when teaching the hearing students the new language in another modality than their previous language(s). The results show how this teacher uses her own knowledge from learning STS as an L2 and how she, through using spoken Swedish, provides rich metalinguistic knowledge that contributes to the students’ deeper theoretic knowledge about STS in addition to their practical STS learning. This had pedagogical implications for the further development of the instruction at the interpreting program.

  • 2018. Ingela Holmström, Krister Schönström. Applied Linguistics Review 9 (1), 90-111

    In a few universities around the world courses are offered where the primary language of instruction is a national sign language. Many of these courses are given by bilingual/multilingual deaf lecturers, skilled in both national sign language(s) and spoken/written language(s). Research on such deaf-led practices in higher education are lacking, and this study will contribute to a greater understanding of these practices. Drawing on ethnographically created data from a higher education setting in Sweden, this case study examines the use of different languages and modalities by three deaf lecturers when teaching deaf and hearing (signing) students in theoretic subjects. The analysis is based on video-recordings of the deaf lecturers during classroom activities at a basic university level in which Swedish Sign Language (SSL) is used as the primary language. The results illustrate how these deaf lecturers creatively use diverse semiotic resources in several modes when teaching deaf and hearing (signing) students, which creates practices of translanguaging. This is illustrated by classroom activities in which the deaf lecturers use different language and modal varieties, including sign languages SSL and ASL as well as Swedish, and English, along with PowerPoint and whiteboard notes. The characteristics of these multimodal-multilingual resources and the usage of them will be closely presented in this article.

  • 2017. Ingela Holmström, Krister Schönström. Deafness and Education International 19 (1), 29-39

    Although once placed solely in deaf schools, a growing number of deaf students in Sweden are now enrolling in mainstream schools. In order to maintain a functional educational environment for these students, municipalities are required to provide a variety of supporting resources, e.g. technological equipment and specialized personnel. However, the functions of these resources and how these relate to deaf students’ learning is currently unknown. Thus, the present study examines public school resources, including the function of a profession called a hörselpedagog (HP, a kind of pedagogue that is responsible for hard-of-hearing students). In particular, the HPs’ perspectives on the functioning and learning of deaf students in public schools were examined. Data were collected via (i) two questionnaires: one quantitative (n = 290) and one qualitative (n = 26), and (ii) in-depth interviews (n = 9). These show that the resources provided to deaf children and their efficacy are highly varied across the country, which holds implications for the language situations and learning of deaf students.

  • 2015. Ingela Holmström, Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta, Rickard Jonsson. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 25 (3), 256-284

    Different technologies are commonly used in mainstream classrooms to teach pupils who wear surgically implanted cochlear hearing aids. We focus on these technologies, their application, how pupils react to them, and how they affect mainstream classrooms in Sweden. Our findings indicate that language ideologies play out in specific ways in such technified environments. The hegemonic position wielded by adults with regard to the use of technology usage has specific implications for pupils with cochlear implants.

Show all publications by Ingela Holmström at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 8, 2020

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