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Children’s agency in creating and maintaining language policy in practice in two “language profile” preschools in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Sally Boyd
Leena Huss
Cajsa Ottesjö
Published in Multilingua - Journal of Cross-cultural and Interlanguage Communiciation
Volume 36
Issue 4
Pages 501-531
ISSN 0167-8507
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 501-531
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1515/multi-2016-0024
Keywords Bilingualism, child agency, code alternation, language policy, prescshool
Subject categories Linguistics, Children's language, Bilingualism


This paper presents results from an ethnographic study of language policy as it is enacted in everyday interaction in two language profile preschools in Sweden with explicit monolingual language policies: English and Finnish, respectively. However, in both preschools, children are free to choose language or code alternate. The study shows how children through their interactive choices create and modify language policy-in-practice. We analyze extracts from typical free play interactions in each setting. We show how children use code alternation as a contextualization cue in both settings, but with somewhat different interac- tional consequences. Children in both preschools tend to follow the lead of the preceding speaker’s language choice. Code alternation is also a means to manage conversational roles, for example, to show alignment. While the staff give priority to the profile language, the children show through their interaction that skills in both the preschool’s profile language and in Swedish are valuable

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