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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Volume 36, Issue 4


Playing the game and speaking the right language: Language policy and materiality in a bilingual preschool activity

Anna Martín-Bylund
Published Online: 2017-06-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0021


What are the material-semiotic relationships between a language policy and a table game activity in a bilingual preschool? Using Actor-Network Theory (ANT), the aim of this article is to explore this question, working with both human and nonhuman aspects of the activity, symmetrically, at the same level. The game playing activity takes place at a bilingual, Spanish-Swedish preschool in Sweden, which adopts a 50-50 approach in daily interaction. In interplay with video recordings, field notes and Actor-Network Theory, four different actor-network scenes of the activity are produced. Children, teacher, game pieces, die, cards, linguistic and other elements are described in the same language, as well as symmetrically drawn together in material-semiotic relations. The results indicate that the activity revolves mainly around two different, multilayered, and sometimes conflicting interests: to play the game and to speak the right language. The article describes the interrelatedness between these interests and how bilingualism emerges, transforms and becomes temporarily different in the relations of the actor-network. The approach opens up new avenues for understanding different constructions of bilingualism not in terms of a flexible-separate dichotomy but as entangled with one another in material-semiotic relations, which may illuminate creative potentials in the relations of policy and practice rather than implementation.

Keywords: language policy; bilingualism; flexible-separate; Actor-Network Theory (ANT); material-semiotic; human and nonhuman; early childhood education


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-06-29

Published in Print: 2017-07-26

Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 36, Issue 4, Pages 477–499, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0021.

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Anna Martín-Bylund
Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2017, Page 1

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