LAMiNATE Talks: Karolina Larsson (LU & Halmstad Municipality), Polly Björk-Willén (Halmstad Munic.), Katarina Haraldsson (Halmstad Munic. & Gothenburg University) & Kristina Hansson (LU). Children’s use of English as lingua franca in Swedish preschools.
This paper highlights a current phenomenon reported from preschools placed in multilingual areas in Sweden, namely that some preschoolers with mutually different language backgrounds use English as lingua franca instead of Swedish during play.
The data stems from a study of language environments in Swedish preschools situated in both monolingual and multilingual areas. The analyses reveal that many children are influenced by the English language in both areas, but to a much greater extent in multilingual areas. An interesting situation arises when the majority language of society, which is also the language of education and lingua franca of the preschool, acquires a subordinate role in children's accomplishment of everyday practices.
Data show that the participating children are exposed to and speak English to a varying extent. They learn and teach each other English, and speak English in an array of pragmatic purposes; to position themselves in the social hierarchies of the preschool group, to create meaning within their shared peer culture and for the purpose of exclusion of intruders. English is also used as a secret language of friendship.