Teachers’ language practices and choices in a bilingual, co-located kindergarten in Finland


  • Pauliina Sopanen University of Jyväskylä


early childhood education, language choice, language practices, teachers


This article explores the language practices and choices of four teachers in a co-located kindergarten in Finland. Following Finland’s official bilingualism, the education system is built on two tracks – Finnish and Swedish. As official languages of Finland, the two languages share the same status, but since Finnish is the registered language of the vast majority of the population, Swedish can be seen as a de facto minority language – one reason why Swedish education has been seen as an important space for maintaining Swedish language and culture. This constitutes an important perspective for research on Finnish and Swedish early childhood education units that are located in the same building. In this article, the language practices and choices of four kindergarten teachers are examined. The teachers worked in different groups: two of them in Swedish groups and two in Finnish groups. These teachers’ everyday activities were observed and recorded, and the teachers were interviewed about their language practices and choices. Through data source and methodological triangulation, this article illustrates how the teachers worked side by side in collaboration and across language borders, and thus created a feeling of community between the Finnish and Swedish groups. Sharing some of the spaces and activities broadened the space and made it more bilingual. At the same time, the teachers’ language practices gave extra support to Swedish, which was used not only in the Swedish groups but also with bilinguals in the Finnish groups.



2022-02-16 — Updated on 2022-07-26


How to Cite

Sopanen, P. (2022). Teachers’ language practices and choices in a bilingual, co-located kindergarten in Finland. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 16(1), 21–44. https://doi.org/10.47862/apples.107280 (Original work published February 16, 2022)