Interpreting and managing a monolingual norm in an English-speaking class in Finland: When first and second graders contest the norm

Alicia Copp Jinkerson



This study explores the stances that multilingual learners adopt in the face of a monolingual, “English-only” norm in a primary English medium class in Finland. I examine classroom interaction focusing on three students and the ways in which they reinterpret, reformulate, and contest this norm. This research is informed by the perspective of language socialization and draws on methods of microethnographic discourse analysis. I find that the three focal students come into opposition when they interpret and manage the institutional monolingual norm differently, indexing issues of mother tongue expertise and group membership. Aleksi employs a variety of discursive practices in resisting the English language norm, conceptualizing it quite differently than Lucille who seeks to monitor language use among her peers. Ali operates on the border, revealing a surprising degree of metalinguistic awareness and interest in how languages are situated institutionally. All three students articulate different stances on the use of English and Finnish in their lives. Language use transcends institutional boundaries, and norms are reproduced in concert and in conflict with other members of the class. My findings speak to contested language practice everywhere, to institutional norms regarding language use, to the ways in which students respond, reproduce, and reject institutional linguistic ideologies, and the different roles students give to languages in their daily lives.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies