Keynote speakers


Professor Åsa Palviainen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland: 

A child of its time? Managing the multilingual child in official ECEC policy texts

Official educational policy documents guide the daily Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) work. In this process, the policy-makers have a significant role in shaping the future, not the least of multilingual children: “Language policies for education play an important role in the ways in which a society articulates and plans for the futures of its members” (Liddicoat 2013:1). At the same time as policy texts serve to be pro-active, they also appear as a function of the time in which they were produced. I will take a diachronic as well as a synchronic perspective and critically analyse how the bi-/multilingual child, and minority and immigrant languages have been discursively constructed over time in ECEC curricula across the Nothern Europe and United Kingdom contexts. To what extent are these curricula –including the most recent ones– ”a child of their time”, and what does this mean in practice? And, who are the real policy-makers?


Professor Dr. Annick De Houwer, University of Erfurt, Germany: 

Including all children from the start: multilingualism-friendly early childhood education  

More and more children in early childhood education (ECE) all over Europe have a linguistically diverse background. They may hear two language varieties at home, only one of which is used in preschools and kindergartens, or they may just hear languages at home that are not used in ECE. These facts need to be fully recognized and acknowledged in preschool classes. If they are not, children will feel left out. Feeling left out does not contribute to socio-emotional well-being. Yet, such well-being is of fundamental importance to learning. Additionally, if children feel no recognition or respect for their home language(s), they may not develop any motivation to learn the school language. Starting from a social justice perspective that takes the UN Convention for Child Rights as its ethical basis, my presentation will further explain these facts, and will propose relatively easy and inexpensive ways to include ALL the children in the classroom from the very start, regardless of their language background.



Professor Lars Anders Kulbrandstad, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway

Language minorities and education in Norway – then and now

Because of the ideology that dominated the Norwegian nation building way into the 20th century, people tend to think that this country was monolingual and monocultural until the advent of immigrants and refugees in the second half of the 20th century. The fact of the matter is that groups of people with different languages and cultures have lived in close contact on the territory of present day’s Norway since time immemorial; and throughout the history of organized schooling, there have been children from language minorities in classrooms in most parts of the country. However, their home culture and language have mostly been ignored or neglected by the school and they have been taught as if have had the same background as the majority. This is often still the case in spite of official rhetoric praising diversity and supporting minority rights. In my talk, I will give examples of school experiences of children from different minority groups in the past and present and discuss inconsistencies and contradictions in Norwegian educational policy as well as in public opinion and attitude.