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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

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Volume 36, Issue 4


Bilingual children as policy agents: Language policy and education policy in minority language medium Early Childhood Education and Care

Mari Bergroth
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Languages, University of Jyväskylä, Tritonia/T504 P.O. Box 700, Vaasa 65101, Finland
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/ Åsa Palviainen
Published Online: 2017-06-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0026


The current study examines bilingual children as language policy agents in the interplay between official language policy and education policy at three Swedish-medium preschools in Finland. For this purpose we monitored nine Finnish-Swedish bilingual children aged 3 to 5 years for 18 months. The preschools were located in three different parts of Finland, in milieux with varying degrees of language dominance. The children were video recorded during their normal daytime routines in early childhood education and care. Three types of communicative situations were analyzed: an educator-led small group activity, free play with friends, and an activity in which one child was playing alone. Representative dialogs were selected to illustrate the children’s agency in constructing and enacting bilingual and/or monolingual language policies. Our analysis shows, firstly, that official national language policies can be enacted in different ways depending on the wider practice structures of the site; and, secondly, that each bilingual child has a unique agency and an active role in the construction of not only the monolingual policy but also a bilingual policy within the frames of early childhood education and care.

Keywords: Agency; preschool; early childhood education and care; language policy; education policy


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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 375–399, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0026.

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