Ideologies and practices in a kindergarten offering early education in Northern Sámi outside the Sámi homeland

Borbála Pachné Heltai, Csilla Bartha

Language nest, Multilingual education, Sámis


In this study we analyse data collected in a Finnish kindergarten where one of the groups offers immersion education in Northern Sámi, an endangered language. The kindergarten is located outside the Sámi homeland in a majority city of Finland. This fact sets up extra challenges, but also offers possibilities for the promotion of multilingual competencies. First we review some possible categorizations of multilingual educational forms and highlight the advantages of adopting a multilingual habitus in education (Benson, 2014). The group we studied works partially as a language nest, thus we discuss this method in some detail. After that, we introduce the data and the method we used for their interpretation. We present the results by discussing three topics: the broader social context; the diversity of the linguistic repertoires of the participants; and the learning environment and organization of everyday activities. Our findings show that active cooperation between the participants, alignment with the local needs and resources, and flexibility toward language practices are crucial for successful education and the promotion of the non-dominant language and culture.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies