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 editors: Alstad, Gunhild Tomter; Sopanen, Pauliina

Journal or series: Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy

eISSN: 2002-0317

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 7

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 30-43

Publisher: Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20020317.2020.1862951

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open 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.

Keywords: early childhood education and care; language teaching; monolingualism; bilingualism; multilingualism; language policy; education policy

Free keywords: language education policy; language orientations; ideologies; multilingualism; early childhood education; early childhood education policies

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:49