Reference : Language as a Social Practice and Processes of Institutionalisation in Early Childhoo...
Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings : Unpublished conference
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Anthropology
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Education & instruction
Language as a Social Practice and Processes of Institutionalisation in Early Childhood Education and Care: An Ethnographic Research in Luxembourgian Day Care Centres.
Seele, Claudia mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Integrative Research Unit: Social and Individual Development (INSIDE) >]
Oxford Ethnography and Education Conference
September 15-17, 2014
United Kingdom
[en] ethnography ; early education ; multilingualism ; Luxembourg ; institutionalisation
[en] In Luxembourg, multilingualism is an everyday reality. Not only are there three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German. Luxembourg is also the EU member state with the highest proportion of resident foreigners (44.5% in 2014). In this context, educational practice in early childcare settings is confronted with multiple, at times divergent tasks, ranging from language promotion and school preparation to contributing to social cohesion and to the integration of a heterogeneous society. Instead of asking how effectively educational practices meet these demands and expectations, my research rather takes a non-normative approach by asking how multilingualism is actually dealt with in everyday practice.

To regard language as a social practice is to put the focus on the actual doing of language and its contribution to the practical accomplishment of an institutional order. Institutionalisation, here, is understood as the intricate processes of referring and answering to external expectations in everyday practice in order to negotiate what “early childhood education and care” (ECEC) actually is and means. Hence, not everything that happens in educational fields is per se “education”; rather it has to be performed and practically enacted as such in response to certain institutionalized norms, values and expectations.

The paper draws on findings from an ethnographic research that has been carried out in three Luxembourgian day care centres over the course of two and a half years in the context of a PhD project. Different aspects of language practices, i.e. their material, bodily, spatial and representational dimensions, are analysed in order to track the processes of institutionalisation in ECEC. Pertinent questions in this context are: What is the role of children in these processes? How do language practices, on the one hand, contribute to the accomplishment of an institutional order and are, on the other hand, themselves constrained by this order? What are the possibilities as well as the limits of practices of language promotion in ECEC? What are the implications of the research beyond the Luxembourgian context?
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