A1 Journal article (refereed)
Language orientations in early childhood education policy in Finland and Norway (2021)

Alstad, G. T., & Sopanen, P. (2021). Language orientations in early childhood education policy in Finland and Norway. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 7(1), 30-43. https://doi.org/10.1080/20020317.2020.1862951

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsAlstad, Gunhild Tomter; Sopanen, Pauliina

Journal or seriesNordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy


Publication year2021


Issue number1

Pages range30-43


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/73625


This article investigates the language orientations in education policy documents for early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Finland and Norway. Finland, an officially bilingual country, and Norway, a predominantly monolingual country, share similar views on ECEC. However, the ECEC field in both countries has undergone major changes in recent years: more children are attending ECEC, and the increasing number of children with diverse backgrounds and minority languages. The document analysis includes seven policy documents related to ECEC in Finland and Norway. The analytical approach is based on Ruíz’ framework for language orientations, i.e. language as resource, language as right and language as problem. The analysis shows that the language orientation in ECEC policy is rather vague and open. On the one hand, multilingualism is seen as a resource. On the other hand, multilingualism is considered as challenging in terms of language diversity, facilitating multilingual and first language development. In both countries, there seems to be a a monolingual ideology underlying the policy. We discuss these findings in light of policy implementations and finally underline the importance of critical multilingual awareness in early childhood teacher education.

Keywordsearly childhood education and carelanguage teachingmonolingualismbilingualismmultilingualismlanguage policyeducation policy

Free keywordslanguage education policy; language orientations; ideologies; multilingualism; early childhood education; early childhood education policies

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 22:25