Where communication flows, languages swim freely: developing fieldwork methods for investigating preschool children’s language beliefs


  • Elin Almér


fieldwork methods, preschool children, interactive agency


In this paper I reflect on methodological aspects to take into consideration when developing methods for investigating three- to five-year-old children’s beliefs about language, language use and bilingualism. I analyze participant observations and notes taken in the field. The study focuses on bilingual Finnish-Swedish children in Swedish-medium preschools in Finland. At one of the schools, most of the children and I did not share a common language, so the interaction between us heightened both the children’s language awareness and that of my own. This drew my attention to communicative aspects of embodiment and multimodality and to the distribution of responsibility for interaction. I detected two interaction orders in which children’s agency stood out in their intention to make their voice heard, and I used my experiences to develop an ethically-oriented data-generating approach to enhance communication about communication.