Language-aware operational culture
Developing in-service training for early childhood education and care
This study examines how practitioners of minority-medium Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Finland reflect on language awareness (LA) in their professional learning communities (PLCs). The study is conducted within in-service training for ECEC practitioners and it also highlights how these practitioner reflections can be of use and support developing future in-service training within the action research framework. The data include nine group discussions on a reflection task, with 41 primary participants and 165 secondary participants from each primary participant’s respective PLC. As a starting point, the researcher-trainers identified six language-policy themes on LA in national policy documents. These were presented for practitioners, who then discussed them both in their respective PLCs and within the in-service training. The in-service discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed for qualitative-content analysis. During the analysis, the focus was on the dynamics of minority-majority positions, with the following themes emerging: i) Language contacts; ii) bilingual children and multi-layered identity; and iii) developing multilingual pedagogies. The results showed that the same insights often were treated both as strengths and weaknesses, and that a need exists for support so that practitioners can implement language-aware educational policy into their operational cultures.