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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Volume 36, Issue 4


Dilemmatic aspects of language policies in a trilingual preschool group

Tünde Puskás / Polly Björk-Willén
Published Online: 2017-05-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0025


This article explores dilemmatic aspects of language policies in a preschool group in which three languages (Swedish, Romani and Arabic) are spoken on an everyday basis. The article highlights the interplay between policy decisions on the societal level, the teachers’ interpretations of these policies, as well as language practices on the micro level. The preschool group is seen as a complex context for negotiating language policies and expectations regarding language use. The theoretical framework builds on Billig’s work on ideological and everyday dilemmas that we argue are detectable at both levels of the analysis. The analysis of the ethnographic material shows that the explicit language policy formulated in the Swedish preschool curriculum leads, in practice, to ideological, pedagogical and everyday dilemmas. Moreover, an unwillingness to set rules for children’s language choice combined with the central position of free play in Swedish preschool practice has led to a situation in which children fall short of their potential to develop bilingual competence.

Keywords: explicit and implicit language policies; educational dilemmas; bilingual preschool practice


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-05-02

Published in Print: 2017-07-26

Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 36, Issue 4, Pages 425–449, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0025.

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